Geneva — The Durban final outcome document was adopted three days early.
In a surprise development, the delegates in Geneva for the United Nations-sponsored Durban Review Conference adopted the document Tuesday by consensus.
It came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the opening of the parley blasted Israel as a “most cruel and repressive regime,” prompting a walkout by the European delegations and condemnation by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The document was scheduled to be adopted Friday, but delegates moved quickly to embrace it Tuesday after final details had already been worked out April 17.
The document opens by reaffirming the 2001 Durban document, which was a sticking point for both the United States and Israeli governments to boycott the conference, as under the heading of “victims of racism,” the original document had noted “the plight of the Palestinian people” – seen as implying Israeli racism.
While the current document does not mention either Israel or the Palestinians, paragraph 66 (out of 143) “Recalls that the Holocaust must never be forgotten” and calls for countries to implement U.N. resolutions related to Holocaust commemoration.
Some speculated that certain delegations, like Iran or the Organization of Islamic Conference, were pressing to reopen debate to denounce Israel or defamation of religions, especially Islam. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, rejected that notion.
The Friday adoption date was “just in case the main committee needed that much time, just in case various debates reopened or questions were raised,” she told reporters. “None of that happened.”
The United States and Israel are among nine countries to boycott the conference known as Durban II. The Czech Republic did not return after walking out on Ahmadinejad’s speech.