Durban Review Conference 2009


Decision to hold a Durban Review Conference

In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 61/ 149, decided to convene a review conference on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to be held in Geneva in 2009. To this end, it requested the Human Rights Council to prepare this event, making use of the three existing and ongoing follow-up mechanisms, to formulate a concrete plan and to provide yearly updates and reports on this issue starting in 2007. The UN Human Rights Council acted as the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference. The Preparatory Committee had three sessions.

The first took place in Geneva from 27 to 31 August 2007. During this session, Governments took a number of organisational decisions including the provisional rules of procedure of the Durban Review Conference, sources of funding for the Conference, accreditation of NGOs, objectives of the Conference, the organisation of regional preparatory meetings among others.



Objectives of the Review Conference

In August, during its organisational session, the Preparatory Committee for the Conference set forth the objectives of the Durban Review Conference. These are;
    1. To review progress and assess implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action by all stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels, including assessing contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, through an inclusive, transparent and collaborative process and identify concrete measures and initiatives for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action;

    2. To access the effectiveness of the existing Durban follow-up mechanism and other relevant United Nations mechanisms dealing with the issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to enhance them;

    3. To promote the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and proper consideration of the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

    4. To identify and share good practices achieved in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
During this session, the Preparatory Committee took a number of organisational decisions including sources of funding, accreditation of NGO’s, objectives of the Conference and the organisation of regional preparatory meetings. (A Latin America and Caribbean regional meeting was held in Brasilia and the African regional meeting was held in Abuja).


Further Preparatory work

The second session called “The first substantive session” of the Preparatory Committee was held in April / May 2008 during which the structure of a draft outcome document was agreed as well as the establishment of an intersessional open-ended working group (ISWG) that was to follow up its work. This group met on a number of occasions and considered submissions by various Member States and other agencies including the CERD Committee.

The second substantive session of the Preparatory Committee took place in October 2008. A compilation of proposals for an outcome document was put together at this Conference but the compilation was made up of six initial proposals submitted by regional and other groups and, because it contained elements from so many sources, it was somewhat lengthy. Following work that had been conducted in a series of informal meetings, held from late 2008 until April 2009, in addition to the Third substantive session of the Preparatory Committee, held from 15 - 17 April 2009, the Chair of the working group submitted to Member States a streamlined compilation document which then became the draft outcome document.


Work undertaken at a National Level

Representatives from the then Office of the Minister for Integration (now the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Department of Justice and Equality) and the Human Rights Unit of the then Department of Foreign Affairs (now the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) attended these preparatory meetings for the conference. In addition to this, a state response in relation to progress achieved at a national level since 2001 was submitted to the Conference secretariat and published on the website of the Durban Review Conference.

The Irish Government recognises the important role that Non-Governmental Organisations play in human rights matters. Accordingly, a consultation meeting was also organised by the then Office of the Minister for Integration and the then Department of Foreign Affairs with representatives from the NGO sector to provide an opportunity to outline any observations on the draft outcome document. This meeting was held in the offices of the Reception and Integration Agency on 31 March 2009.


Durban Review Conference 2009

The Review Conference itself was held in Geneva from 20 - 24th of April 2009.

The Irish delegation was led by H.E. Mr. Daithi O' Ceallaigh, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, Geneva. Representatives from the then Department of Foreign Affairs and the then Office of the Minister for Integration actively participated in the Conference and Ambassador O' Ceallaigh delivered a national statement on Wednesday 22nd of April.

The Conference itself did not pass without some controversy. However, notwithstanding the incident surrounding the statement of the Iranian President on the first day, the Conference was deemed a success with a relatively strong consensual final document adopted.

Calling the successful result " a platform for a new beginning", High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in her final statement urged all to implement vigorously the outcome document. The High Commissioner also stated that the focus is now on implementation.

The website of the review Conference www.un.org/durbanreview2009 provides a comprehensive outline to the background of the Conference, information on the preparatory process, information relevant to the Non-Governmental sector as well as reports on the Conference itself, side events, the statements delivered and relevant press releases which were issued.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration is currently examining this Final Outcome document.


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