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Cablegate: Africa Group and Oic Face Off Against Eu in Durban

VZCZCXRO1420
PP RUEHAT
DE RUEHGV #0155/01 0601511
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291511Z FEB 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6108
INFO RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2658

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 000155

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR IO/RHS, DRL/MLGA, L/HRR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM UNHRC
SUBJECT: AFRICA GROUP AND OIC FACE OFF AGAINST EU IN DURBAN
AD HOC COMMITTEE


1. SUMMARY: The inaugural week-long meeting of the Ad Hoc
Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards
displayed the irreconcilable rifts between the European Union
(EU) and the African Group (AG) and Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC) approaches to racism issues. Nothing less
than a new optional protocol to the ICERD on religious issues
will satisfy the AG and OIC, while the EU does not see
defamation of religion and incitement to religious hatred as
racial issues. The lack of consensus and conclusive results
from the Committee's meeting bodes ill for productive action
in other Durban follow-up fora. END SUMMARY.

2. The work of the Ad Hoc Committee session had two parts:
1) reviewing three documents on substantive gaps in current
international anti-racism instruments, which had originally
come from CERD, the Intergovernmental Working Group on Durban
Implementation (IGWG), and the Group of Five Eminent Experts
(G5); and 2) discussion of specific recommendations for
eventual complementary standards. Delegations recommended
the following issues for complementary standards:
- AG/Egypt: incitement to religious and racial hatred (as
"previewed" in HRC 3/103) and xenophobia;
- OIC/Pakistan: defamation of religion;
- Syria: the inherent racism of foreign occupation;
- Algeria: racism of foreign occupation and xenophobia.

3. Given the appearance of this same handful of issues in
every Durban-related forum, it seems likely that upcoming
Durban fights will center on them. Referring to ICCPR
Article 19, CERD 4, and General Comment 15 of ICERD as
precedents, Egypt and Pakistan argued for the acceptance of
curbs on freedom of speech to prevent defamation of religion.
Near the end of the week-long meeting, given the absence of
any agreement, the Algerian President of the Ad Hoc
Committee, Ambassador Jazairy, suggested a narration of the
discussion as the outcome document. The final record remains
open to edits until the second half of the session, which is
to be scheduled later.

FLASHPOINTS
-----------

4. Egypt for the AG and Pakistan for the OIC repeatedly
accused the G5 of shirking what they characterized as the
G5's mandated duty to formulate a draft of a new optional
protocol to the ICERD. The AG interpreted the request of the
Durban Declaration and Plan of Action (DDPA) for an
elaboration of mechanisms to address gaps as meaning that the
existence of substantive gaps was already agreed upon. The
EU, by contrast, repeatedly insisted the main problem with
anti-racism measures is a lack of political will in
individual states and expressed doubt that increased
instruments would fix that problem. Seeking the most
expedient solution to the admitted gaps in anti-racism
action, the EU supported the experts' recommendations to
better implement current instruments and to formulate a
convention on human rights education.

5. There was broad agreement that a nexus between religion
and racial discrimination exists, but absolutely no agreement
that the African Group and OIC proposals are within the
purview of the ICERD. The AG-OIC coalition insisted that
since anti-Muslim discrimination targets even non-religious
people from Muslim regions, it constitutes racism. The EU
said it could go along with a CERD general comment on that
topic, but did not agree that the issue merits an optional
protocol. The EU indicated it would also like to bring up
other "multiple aggravated forms of racism," to include
sexual orientation, whereas Egypt scoffed that discrimination
on grounds of sexual orientation was not even a real
discrimination issue.

6. The AG and OIC insisted that a new optional protocol
should be drafted, with or without consensus, because, in
their view, the DDPA mandates it, while everyone else in the
session insisted on the need for consensus. After the
session, several EU delegates expressed growing exasperation
with the tenor of the racism discussion and worried that
ramming defamation of religion into the Durban process
endangers consensus on everything else in the DDPA and
seriously harms international anti-racism efforts. They
hoped to convince GRULAC and the sub-Saharan states to oppose
this dilution of the DDPA, although in the session, GRULAC
had remained unwilling to oppose the African Group on this
issue.

COMMENT
-------


GENEVA 00000155 002 OF 002


7. The Algerian chair made little pretense of impartiality.
Above all, he shaped the final document to reflect his view
that there is a strong tie between defamation of religion and
racial discrimination. The document may be a fairly accurate
record of the range of views expressed, but, particularly
given that it was approved as the meeting's outcome, it risks
becoming a basis for future discussions. It could thus
strengthen the position of those who insist on bringing
defamation of religion and incitement to religious hatred
into the anti-racism regime.
TICHENOR

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