Cablegate: Working Group On Follow-Up to Durban Declaration
DE RUEHGV #0617 0730659
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 140659Z MAR 07
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3133
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2075
RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS GENEVA 000617
IO/RHS, DRL/MLGA, L/HRR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM UNHRC
SUBJECT: WORKING GROUP ON FOLLOW-UP TO DURBAN DECLARATION
1. (U) Summary: The intergovernmental working group on the
effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and
Programme of Action met for the first part of its fifth
session March 5-9 chaired by Chilean Permanent Representative
Juan Martabit. Main areas of contention remain the inclusion
of sexual orientation as a category for discrimination and
inclusion of defamation of religion. The EU opposes the
inclusion of defamation while the OIC and African Group
reject any discussion of the inclusion of sexual orientation.
Except for one mention by the UK, freedom of expression went
largely unaddressed in this debate. The second part of the
working group's session is scheduled to meet in September to
discuss complementary standards and further address the work
of the experts designated to identify gaps in the CERD.
USDel observed the meeting and did not speak. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Many delegations across regional groupings
expressed frustration about the lack of transparency in the
operations of OHCHR's Anti-Discrimination Unit (ADU).
Questions from delegations on the effectiveness and
administration of the unit went largely unanswered.
Delegations questioned whether the ADU's technical assistance
to countries in elaborating national plans of action on
anti-discrimination was actually effective. The ADU
representative dodged questions about budgetary and staffing
practices, as well as ADU's four different leaders over the
past three years. The African group expressed concern that
the ADU lacked sufficient support to ensure effective
follow-up and requested that the ADU receive more staffing
and funding. (Note: On this point, our ADU contact noted
dryly that all the resources in the world could not help the
ADU function more effectively since the mandate and
instructions given to it by Council members remained as
ill-defined and contradictory as ever. End note.)
3. (U) While delegations from the EU and Western Group
argued that Durban must address everything from racial
discrimination to homophobia, members of the African group
and OIC were adamant that sexual orientation be excluded,
arguing that Durban focus solely on racial discrimination and
defamation of religion. There was heated debate over the
inclusion of sexual orientation, referring to the adoption of
Durban and the fact that it was not explicitly included.
Belgium declared that it had only adopted Durban on the
grounds that Article 2 was broad enough in scope to cover
sexual orientation. These remain hotly contested issues in
regard to the elaboration of amendments or optional protocols
to "update' Durban to reflect current trends in
discrimination. Many delegations noted the tension between
national commitments to end racism and implementation of
those obligations, both domestically and internationally.
There was large support from EU, Western Group and OAS
members, to address multiple and aggravated forms of
discrimination in the Durban framework.
4. (U) Various delegations underlined that the report
emerging from this session would be provisional, and would
need to be amended after the second half of the session in
September. The draft report considered on the last day did
not reflect any of the debate over sexual orientation and
defamation of religion, but rather focused on the
responsibility of states in elaborating national action plans
and eliminating discrimination in a national context.