Robsinson’s attack on NGO Declaration misleading


Islamic Human Rights Commission


For immediate release

8 September, 2001

Robsinson’s attack on NGO Declaration misleading

Paragraphs on Palestine Conform to UN Language and International Law

IHRC joins pro-Palestinian groups and NGOs in condemning Mary Robinson’s misleading attack on paragraphs 418 and 419 of the NGO Declaration at the World Conference Against Racism. Her consistent attempts to undermine the document are based on a grotesque misrepresentation of the paragraphs’ contents.

Speaking at a Press Conference on Wednesday, and finally to NGOs this morning, Robinson described the language in these paragraphs as ‘inappropriate’ ‘hurtful’ and ‘unhelpful.’ She particularly singled out the request in paragraph 418 of the document that the UN Resolution that Zionism is Racism be reinstated. She also condemned the reference to Israeli genocide and crimes against humanity in paragraph 419.

Legal advisor to the IHRC team in Durban said:

“Robinson has misled press and public alike in her condemnation of the language used. Both paragraphs conform to UN language both in style and content. What is more, both state matters of fact that in any terminology are undisputed.

“In particular the references to genocide and crimes against humanity are not only sound in law but have been argued successfully in most developed judicial systems. Indeed the UN itself has described Israeli acts and policies in exactly the same language, notably but not solely the genocide committed under the command of Ariel Sharon, against the inhabitants of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

“It is clear that Robinson has tried to stifle any serious criticism of Israeli policy at any cost. Her contempt for the NGO community this last week has undermined her credibility as a serious proponent of the processes of civil society. The picture of her this morning walking out of the meeting with NGOs whilst a Palestinian victim was describing her pain at Robinson’s comments, sums up the contempt Robinson has for universal human rights and democratic participation.”

For more information, please contact the Press Officer on (+27) 721017380 (South Africa) or (+44) 7958 522 196 (UK).