In 1990, the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam,” adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, set Sharia as the sole foundation for “human rights.” The UN’s Third International Antiracism Conference, which took place in September 2001 in Durban, South Africa, amplified the trend: These conferences turned out to be devastating tribunals directed against every democracy, unlimited personal freedom, freedom of opinion, freedom of the press, of the arts and human rights in general. All previous human rights conventions were turned on their heads in Cairo and Durban, and racism was given a new definition. The Durban Conference also taught us that Israel is not only an apartheid state, but is in fact the reincarnation of National Socialism, even though Hitler’s Mein Kampf was openly sold at the conference: an ironic twist-and a nightmare!
Since then all sorts of dictators, racists, fundamentalists and fanatics from around the world have come to Geneva to deliver stalwart declarations to save the world and its subjects. These declarations conform to the understanding of human rights characteristic of the council members from communist and Muslim countries, including Muslim law and Sharia, in which there is no equality between men and women, no right to a free choice of religion or of one’s marital partner. Strange, but true: Many NGO members joined in the applause!-in this way the Declaration of Human Rights is being distorted and damaged in the very name of human rights.
In the course of a “diplomatic initiative to establish an adequate UN Human Rights Council” in Geneva under the leadership of the Swiss Federal Councilor Micheline Calmy-Rey since March 2003, many more confusing and paradoxical shifts have taken place, moving far away from the original sense of human rights in the Charter of the United Nations. Five years ago, Calmy-Rey started a search for possibilities to reform the UN Human Rights Commission. Despite a seemingly good intention, it gives grounds to fear that in the review conference in April 2009, human rights will sink even further back into the Middle Ages.
Interestingly, it was the same states that abstained from voting for the Declaration of Human Rights on June 26, 1945, which staged the Durban event. In 1945 it was the Communist block and the Soviet Union along with Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Thanks to the “Islamic Revolution” of 1979, that same group has been joined by the Iranian mullahs, who have had thirty years to turn Iran into a prison, while they celebrate Holocaust denial and promise to eradicate Israel from the face of the map.
In June 2006, the Human Rights Council, with 47 members including Switzerland, replaced the UN Commission for Human Rights. It was supposed to be an important step for the UN-and an extraordinary success for Switzerland. It was intended to “protect and defend” human rights. The Council was supposed “to examine the human-rights condition in all member states and to insist that they respect human rights.” “If a member is accused of severe and systematic abuse of human rights,” it was to be “suspended.” Oh really?
With grand words and protected by ignorant Swiss hosts, the Human Rights Council is dominated by member states like Iran, Libya, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc.-countries in which there is no freedom, let alone any appreciation of democracy. These despotic states transparently misuse western achievements to pursue their own intolerance and antisemitism, while opposing principles of democracy and freedom.
It is the duty of every democrat to resist this development by supporting the abolition of the Human Rights Council. In addition, we should demand an alternative conference against racism in general and antisemitism in particular. It should address all essential ethical questions and the establishment of conventions to regulate fundamental rights and the universal applicability of human rights. The individual should be understood as a free being, and not in terms of adherence to a particular creed or to a specific ideology. We have to work harder to build alliances and networks. For it is a waste of time to wait for the politicians. The clock is ticking and the dangers are everywhere: Not only in the Middle East, but in the West as well with the leftist and Muslim fundamentalist rage against freedom and humanity, as well as its delusional animosity to Israel and people of other faiths. It would certainly be highly desirable to see a UN body dedicate itself genuinely to the international spread of human rights and to follow-through effectively.
What blind westerners currently support in the UN Human Rights Council is a latent identification with the aggressors, which means a danger for the victims, who face death daily due to their yearnings for freedom: youth, women, intellectuals, journalists, artists, gays, minorities, and adherents to other faiths. This is a moral challenge, which we have to face seriously. We have a duty to these victims to do something.
We therefore call upon the members states of the European Union, especially Germany, to boycott the “Durban 2” conference. Please sign the appeal, available in German and in English on the internet at http://boycottdurban2.wordpress.com.
Nasrin Amirsedghi is a journalist with a Persian background, now living in Mainz, Germany. She is a co-author of the Appeal.
Translated by Russell Berman.
1. “Schaffung eines UNO-Menschenrechtsrats,” available as a PDF here.