Geneva, April 21 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned on Monday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the Durban Review Conference on racism.
“I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian president to accuse, divide and even incite,” Ban said in a statement.
“This is the opposite of what this Conference seeks to achieve. This makes it significantly more difficult to build constructive solutions to the very real problem of racism,” he said.
“We must all turn away from such a message in both form and substance. We must join hands and work together to achieve a constructive, substantive agenda to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” he added.
The Durban Review Conference, which opened Monday in Geneva, is a follow-up meeting to the World Conference against Racism, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa.
In his speech to the conference, the Iranian president referred to Israel as “the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”
He also said the state of Israel had been created “on the pretext of Jewish suffering” from World War II.
Dozens of European diplomats walked out of the conference room to show their protest as Ahmadinejad gave his speech.
The United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and several other European countries had already chosen to boycott the meeting even before it started due to concern that it could be used as a forum to criticize Israel.
In a separate statement on Monday, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights also condemned Ahmadinejad’s speech.
“I utterly deplore the speech of the president of Iran delivered this afternoon at the Durban Review Conference against racism,” said Navi Pillay.
“I condemn the use of a UN forum for political grandstanding. I find this totally objectionable,” she said.
But she reiterated her objection to some countries’ boycotting the conference.
“The best riposte for this type of event is to reply and correct, not to withdraw and boycott the conference,” she said in the statement.