See and hear the entire speech of Ahmadinejad here. See and hear also the Norwegian Foreign Minister here.

Störe, which did not leave when Ahmadinejad called Israel a racist government in occupied Palestine, instead tried to save the situation by calling Ahmadinejad ”odd man out”, a parable perhaps not so well-founded. The interesting thing was not really who left and who did not arrive at all, but those that remained and even applauded Ahmadinejad. Among those who stayed were UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, although he probably had to bite the bullet in the name of diplomatic courtesy. Later on he ”condemned” Ahmadinejad’s speech. Read here.

But there were still too many ”odd men (and women) still in” for that epihtet to feel really credible. And when Ahmadinejad had spoken, many of those that left went back in again.

If one further takes into account what kind of people that actually organized this conference, one finds that the President is from Libya and that Iran and Cuba are also represented. This is, of course, countries that are well respected for their concern for human rights, right? According to the link, the choice of countries did not, however, occur as a result of such merits, but in order to achieve a fair ”geographical representation”.

That is a selection principle which must be strongly challenged for each conference that have to do with things other than geography. Durban II deals with racism and xenophobia, which is something completely different.

It is clear that it is important to discuss and try to prevent racism and xenophobia. But when one of the main representatives of racism is allowed to speak and also receives strong applause, then it is clear that this conference will not contribute to the fight against these phenomena, but to the contrary.

For those states that are committed to preventing racism and xenophobia, their choice to participate in Durban II has proved wrong. They really should have followed the example of i. a. U.S. and Israel, who did not participate at all. They have now only to leave the conference, and instead confer themselves, based in part on the reasonable assumption that Israel has a right to exist and should be supported in the defense of its existence against the states – like Iran – and organizations that want to destroy the country.

The defense of freedom from racism and xenophobia certainly contains much more than that. But the Durban II conference is no longer a credible part of such a defense. The question is whether the UN at all is credible in this respect, or if the UN is the real ”odd man out”?

But according to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, it is important for Sweden to remain in Durban II. Since EU President-state the Czech Republic left the conference yesterday, it is now up to Sweden as the incoming EU President-state to ”speak up on behalf of the European Union on these important issues,” he writes. Unfortunately it’ll probably be a speech for many a deaf ear …


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