Durban Review Conference on racism: adoption by consensus of the final declaration

Bern, Press release, 21.04.2009

Switzerland was part of the consensus which today adopted the final document of the Durban Review Conference, which corresponds to the objectives set by the Federal Council. Switzerland rejects with the greatest firmness certain remarks made by the President of Iran in the framework of this conference.

Indeed the text limits itself to an evaluation of the implementation of the Durban Declaration and the Program of Action, without any renegotiation of the final document of the Durban Conference of 2001. It does not call into question the existing norms contained in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. And it deals with the various racism-related topics in a balanced manner, so that it not a platform focused solely on any given situation. 

Switzerland is very satisfied that the countries participating in the Conference were able to reach agreement by consensus on the final document, as received from the Preparatory Committee.  

Switzerland deplores the use made of this conference, as of any other public platform, to make statements intended to be divisive and to foment hatred. Moreover Switzerland rejects with the greatest firmness certain remarks made by the President of Iran on this occasion, statements which are contrary both to the spirit of this Conference and to its purpose. Such a forum should be an occasion for joining together to combat racism and discrimination. It is important in such a context to avoid making provocative accusations, when we should be pooling our efforts to seek constructive solutions. Calling indisputable historical facts into question, directly or indirectly, under the pretext of combating racism, is unacceptable. The terrible suffering caused by the Shoah should on the contrary inspire us to combat racism in all its forms with greater determination. The prevailing spirit should be one of moderation and dialogue, not confrontation. 

The adoption of the final document is proof that the international community can work together to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.  

The final declaration contains elements which Switzerland considers important. It underlines the role of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and focuses on measures for implementing the existing norms. Freedom of expression, which promotes diversity of ideas and of thought, is here presented as an essential tool for combating discrimination. This text calls for the eradication of discrimination against women and children as well as many other serious forms of discrimination. In conclusion Switzerland would like to thank Russia for presiding over the process of negotiation with unflagging effort, for without it this agreement would not have been possible.


Further information:

Durban Review Conference: Switzerland's declaration (fr)


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