The Rosett Report

Durban III: The Monaco Factor

On Sept. 22, the United Nations will strike a blow for bigotry, by hosting Durban III — the third in what has become a series of UN gatherings dedicated in name to fighting racism, but devoted in practise to whipping up and institutionalizing anti-Semitism. The UN’s so-called “Durban process” singles out Israel for opprobrium. The UN’s first Durban conference, held in South Africa, in 2001, turned into such a mob attack on Israel that the U.S. delegation walked out. The UN’s second Durban “review” conference, held in Geneva, in 2009, had its preparatory committee chaired by Libya, and featured as a star speaker Iran’s Holocaust-denier-in-chief, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The U.S. boycotted that conference, and when Ahmadinejad began to speak, a parade of Western delegates walked out.

Undeterred, the UN General Assembly is now planning to hold Durban III at the UN’s headquarters in New York, timed to coincide with the annual pileup of heads of state who come every September to tie up midtown Manhattan traffic and speak at the UN General Assembly’s annual opening. Preparations are already well-advanced for providing the assembled worthies with a full day of opportunities to “commemorate” the bigotry of the original Durban conference, as Anne Bayefsky of EyeontheUN reports in her latest article on “U.N. Busy Deciding How to Slam Israel.

The good news — such as there is — is that six countries have now announced they will not attend Durban III: Canada, the U.S., Israel, the Netherlands, Italy, and the Czech Republic all want no part of this Durban grotesquerie. The bad news is that with only half a dozen countries pulling out to date, that leaves 187 of the UN’s 193 member states (South Sudan was just enrolled by the UN as the 193rd member) either unwilling to take a stand for decency, or eager to go ahead with yet another UN festival of anti-Semitism.

What is to be done? Well, sometimes leverage can be found in strange places. So here’s something to ponder. Preparations for Durban III are being “co-facilitated” by two countries, and an odd coupling it is: Cameroon and Monaco.

There’s no point in expecting decency from the longtime dictatorship of Cameroon — which, while serving at the UN as a grandee of Durban III, has reportedly failed to end slavery on its own turf, and has fostered a system that human rights watchdog Freedom House describes as a sinkhole of cronyism, discrimination against women, and “a transit center for child trafficking.”

But what about Cameroon’s Durban III partner, Monaco? Yes, the Monaco of glamor, fashion, and oh-so-up-market Western civilization? The Monaco of the late Grace Kelly, of charity balls, of fancy royal photos and the recent wedding of Prince Albert. Monaco, with its tiny population of just under 36,000, enjoys a lovely rating by the U.S. State Department as a place where in 2010 there were no reports of anti-Semitic attacks or discrimination against any religion.

Surely, if Monaco carries on lending its name and reputation to Durban III, Monaco’s good name is due for quite a downgrade. This is a conference that the U.S., Canada, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have all decided to spurn because, in the words of the U.S. government: “The Durban process included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism.” Does Monaco really want to make its mark at the UN as a high-end caterer to anti-Semites?

By the same token, little Monaco could do the world a big favor — by wising up and pulling out of Durban III. As “co-facilitator” of the General Assembly preparations to date, Monaco could punch well above its weight, should it decide even at this late hour to do a U-turn and boycott the conference. Unlike the quisling project of arranging the panel discussions and place settings for Durban III, backing away from the entire “commemoration” would be an act of genuine leadership, and — frankly — self-respect. Is anyone at the State Department making that case to the eminences of Monaco?