Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

  • Deadly strike hits Gaza market despite four-hour 'truce'

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with holdout creditors

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

Europe

UN attempts damage control after Ahmadinejad speech

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Latest update : 2009-04-21

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said delegates should not allow the Durban conference to be "sabotaged" by remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after EU delegates walked out during his speech.

AFP - As delegates reconvene at the UN anti-racism meeting Tuesday, top UN officials sought to contain the fallout after an anti-Israel onslaught by Iran's president prompted a mass walkout.
   
"I noted that what was said in the president's speech has had nothing to do with the substance of the conference, and so it should also have nothing to do with the results," Navi Pillay, who is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.
  
Pillay said delegates should not allow the five-day Durban Review Conference against racism to be "sabotaged" by "one person who has come with these unsavory remarks".
   

She described President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "somebody who traditionally makes obnoxious statements".
   
"Whether I consider that he sabotaged the conference. I don't think so, unless we let him do that.
   
"So here I would appeal that you focus on ... all the important work that has been done for this conference."


 While deploring Ahmadinejad's speech and accusing him of undermining the aim of the conference, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also sought to turn public attention back to the key aims of the meeting.
   

 

Ban pointed out that member states had "come a long way" in forging an agreement on a draft declaration on fighting racism, xenophobia and intolerance that is expected to be adopted by the remaining states in the meeting.
   
"This is not the end of the process, this is just the beginning of the process. We have to continue and to build on this," Ban told journalists.
   
But Ban had told Ahmadinejad in a one on one meeting before the Iranian leader spoke that the UN General Assembly had adopted resolutions "to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism and to reaffirm the historical facts of the Holocaust".
   
"It is deeply regrettable that my plea to look to the future of unity was not heeded by the Iranian president," Ban said.
   

Ahmadinejad, who has previously called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map, criticised the creation of a "totally racist government in occupied Palestine" in 1948, calling it "the most cruel and repressive racist regime.
   
"The (UN) Security Council helped stabilise this occupation regime and supported it for the past 60 years, giving them a free hand to continue their crimes," he said on the first day of the conference.
   
His remarks prompted 23 European Union delegations to walk out of the conference room in protest.
   
They also provoked a flurry of condemnation from Western leaders, with Washington calling on Iran to end its "hateful rhetoric".
   
President Barack Obama "disagrees vehemently" with Ahmadinejad, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
   
Gibbs added that it vindicated the decision by the country's first African-American president to shun the conference.
   
Australia, Canada, Israel, some EU countries and the United States had announced they would not take part in the meeting even before it opened Monday.
   
After Ahmadinejad's speech, the Czech Republic said it was definitely dropping out.
   
The walkout mirrored the last such conference against racism held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 when Israeli and US delegates stormed off over comments by delegates equating Zionism with racism.
  
The Geneva meeting is meant to take stock of progress in fighting racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance since Durban. Pillay underlined recently that the goals set then had not been achieved.
   

Date created : 2009-04-21

COMMENT(S)