Text: H.R.3231 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (07/16/2009)


111th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 3231


To refund United States taxpayer dollars expended on the Durban Review Conference, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 16, 2009

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen (for herself, Mr. Garrett of New Jersey, Mr. Pence, Mr. McCotter, Mr. Hoekstra, Mr. Bachus, Mr. Buyer, Mr. Young of Alaska, Mr. Price of Georgia, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Burton of Indiana, Mr. Royce, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Hensarling, Mrs. Myrick, Mr. Wolf, Mrs. Blackburn, Mr. Kirk, Mr. Linder, Mr. LoBiondo, Mr. Terry, Mr. Platts, Mr. Shuster, Mr. Bishop of Utah, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Mr. Nunes, Mr. McHenry, Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Lamborn, and Mr. Broun of Georgia) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


A BILL

To refund United States taxpayer dollars expended on the Durban Review Conference, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Durban Taxpayer Refund Act of 2009”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) The United States is opposed to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, and has long been a party to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

(2) Expensive and politically skewed international conferences can disserve and undermine the worthy goals that they are ostensibly convened to support.

(3) The goals of the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism—held in Durban, South Africa, and commonly referred to as the “Durban Conference”—were undermined by hateful, anti-Jewish rhetoric and anti-Israel political agendas, prompting both Israel and the United States to withdraw their delegations from the Conference.

(4) The official government declaration adopted by the World Conference Against Racism, the “Durban Declaration and Program of Action”, focused on the “plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation”, and thereby singled out one regional conflict for discussion and implicitly launched a false accusation against Israel of racism towards the Palestinians.

(5) On September 3, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell explained the withdrawal of the United States delegation from the World Conference Against Racism by stating that “you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the ‘days of Zionism’ equals racism; or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world—Israel—for censure and abuse”.

(6) The late United States Representative Tom Lantos, who participated as a member of the United States delegation to the Durban Conference, supported that delegation’s withdrawal and wrote in 2002 that the conference “provided the world with a glimpse into the abyss of international hate, discrimination and, indeed, racism”.

(7) On December 19, 2006, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution initiating preparations for a Durban Review Conference (commonly referred to as “Durban II”), which was held between April 20 and 24, 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland.

(8) The chair of the preparatory committee for the Durban Review Conference was Libya, and the co-chairs included Iran and Cuba.

(9) Throughout the preparatory process for the Durban Review Conference, member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference urged that the conference again focus criticism on Israel and single out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for discussion, and also urged that the conference advocate global speech codes that would impose restrictions contrary to fundamental freedoms recognized in the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(10) In testimony before the House of Representatives on April 2, 2008, then-Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristen Silverberg stated that the United States had decided against participating in preparatory activities for the Durban Review Conference because “[there is] absolutely no case to be made for participating in something that is going to be a repeat of Durban I. We dont have any confidence that this will be any better than Durban I”.

(11) On September 23, 2008, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1361, which, among other things, called on the President to “urge other heads of state to condition participation in the 2009 Durban Review Conference on concrete action by the United Nations and United Nations Member States to ensure that it is not a forum to demonize any group, or incite anti-Semitism, hatred, or violence against members of any group or to call into question the existence of any state” and urged all United Nations Member States “not to support a 2009 Durban Review Conference process that fails to adhere to established human rights standards and to reject an agenda that incites hatred against any group in the guise of criticism of a particular government or that seeks to forge a global blasphemy code”.

(12) The present United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the 2009 Durban Review Conference, Dr. Navanethem Pillay, has repeatedly sought to downplay the level of hateful, anti-Jewish rhetoric and anti-Israel political agendas present at the 2001 Durban Conference, describing it as merely “the virulent anti-Semitic behavior of a few non-governmental organizations on the sidelines” and praising the biased Durban Declaration and Program of Action as “[t]he legacy of this Conference”, has repeatedly sought to downplay the level of hateful, anti-Jewish rhetoric and anti-Israel political agendas present at the 2009 Durban Review Conference and its preparatory activities, and has repeatedly praised and urged the full implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

(13) High Commissioner Pillay has repeatedly and publicly criticized nations, including the United States, which announced that they would not participate in the Durban Review Conference, but has almost never publicly criticized governments who succeeded in using the conference and its preparatory activities to single out Israel for criticism and to attempt to restrict fundamental freedoms.

(14) A United Nations press release on September 8, 2008, regarding an address by High Commissioner Pillay, disturbingly dismissed objections raised by non-governmental organizations to the Durban Review Conference as “ferocious, and often distorted, criticism by certain lobby groups focused on single issues”.

(15) During February of 2009, the United States actively participated in intergovernmental consultations on the Durban Review Conference’s “draft outcome document” and engaged in high-level diplomatic efforts to dramatically reverse the path of the Durban Review Conference by directing it towards meaningful efforts to combat intolerance and bigotry and directing it away from efforts to undermine the cause of fighting discrimination through singling out Israel for implicit criticism and calling for restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

(16) On February 27, 2009, State Department spokesman Robert Wood stated that, despite United States efforts to redirect the path of the Durban Review Conference, “the document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable . . . A conference based on this text would be a missed opportunity to speak clearly about the persistent problem of racism” and therefore, the United States would not participate in further consultations and negotiations regarding the “draft outcome document,” and would not participate in the Durban Review Conference itself unless the “draft outcome document” was radically shortened and revised to eliminate objectionable material.

(17) On April 17, 2009, the third and final session of the preparatory committee for the Durban Review Conference proposed a final “draft outcome document” that contained a number of provisions advocating restrictions on freedom of expression, and that also implicitly singled out and criticized Israel for racism by reaffirming, in its very first paragraph, the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

(18) On April 18, 2009, State Department spokesman Robert Wood announced that “the United States will not join the [Durban] review conference,” noting that “The current document . . . still contains language that reaffirms in toto the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) from 2001, which the United States has long said it is unable to support . . . The United States also has serious concerns with relatively new additions to the text regarding ‘incitement’, that run counter to the U.S. commitment to unfettered free speech.”.

(19) On April 19, 2009, the President stated at a press conference that “I would love to be involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe . . . we expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you incorporated—if you adopted all the language from 2001, that’s just not something we could sign up for . . . our participation would have involved putting our imprimatur on something that we just don’t believe . . . Hopefully . . . we can partner with other countries on to actually reduce discrimination around the globe. But this wasn’t an opportunity to do it.”.

(20) Canada, Israel, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, and New Zealand also did not participate in the Durban Review Conference, and the Czech Republic walked out of the Conference during its proceedings, never to return.

(21) Libya was the chair of the Main Committee of the Durban Review Conference, and vice presidents of the Durban Review Conference included Libya, Iran, and Cuba.

(22) Speaking at the Durban Review Conference on April 20, 2009, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the democratic State of Israel “totally racist” and “the most cruel and repressive racist regime”, and called for Israel’s destruction, stating that “Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists . . . Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism”.

(23) In his speech at the Durban Review Conference, Ahmadinejad also propagated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories by saying that “Those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world . . . mobilize all the resources, including their economic and political influence and world media, to render support in vain to the Zionist regime”.

(24) Disgusted by Ahmadinejad’s biased and incendiary statements, delegates from about two dozen nations walked out of the assembly hall in protest, but most delegations remained, and a large number of delegations and observers repeatedly applauded Ahmadinejad’s remarks.

(25) On April 21, 2009, the Durban Review Conference adopted by consensus an “outcome document” that contained a number of provisions advocating restrictions on freedom of expression, and that also implicitly singled out and criticized Israel for racism by reaffirming, in its very first paragraph, the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

(26) Throughout the Durban Review Conference, many speakers singled out Israel for criticism or called for restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including representatives of Iran, Libya, Cuba, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Switzerland, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and a number of other organizations and countries.

(27) During the Durban Review Conference, several speakers who sought to draw attention to genuine instances of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, related intolerance, and human rights violations by the governments of Iran, Libya, and China were repeatedly interrupted by the delegations from those governments and instructed by the conference’s chair to not refer specifically to those governments.

(28) The 2001 World Conference Against Racism and the 2009 Durban Review Conference have made little or no demonstrable contribution to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.

(29) To date, over $2,000,000 from the United Nations regular budget has been expended on the Durban Review Conference and its preparatory activities.

(30) On December 24, 2008, the United Nations General Assembly approved a program budget for the biennium 2008–2009 that, over the objections of the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, and other prominent Member States, provided a significant portion of the funding for the Durban Review Conference and its preparatory activities from the United Nations regular budget.

(31) The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations system, and is assessed for a full 22 percent of the United Nations regular budget, which is funded by assessed contributions from Member States.

(32) Funding the Durban Review Conference and its preparatory activities through the United Nations regular budget has resulted in United States taxpayer dollars being used for those purposes.

(33) The United States decided to withhold from its 2008 funding for the United Nations regular budget an amount equivalent to the United States share of the United Nations Human Rights Council budget, including its share of the Council-administered preparatory process for the 2009 Durban Review Conference.

SEC. 3. Sense of Congress; Statement of policy.

(a) Sense of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the 2009 Durban Review Conference, like its 2001 predecessor and the preparatory activities of both conferences, was subverted by members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and irredeemably distorted into a forum for anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and anti-freedom activity;

(2) by publicly declaring that the United States would not participate in the Durban Review Conference, the President upheld and reaffirmed the fundamental commitment of the United States to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, and should be commended for his decision not to participate; and

(3) the Governments of Canada, Israel, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic should be commended for their decision to not participate or cease participation in the Durban Review Conference.

(b) Statement of Policy.—It shall be the policy of the United States to—

(1) lead a high-level diplomatic effort to encourage other responsible countries to not fund any portion of the Durban Review Conference or its preparatory or follow-on activities, and to withhold from their respective contributions to the regularly assessed biennial budget of the United Nations an amount that is equal to the percentage of such respective contributions that they determine would be or has been allocated by the United Nations for any part of the Durban Review Conference or its preparatory or follow-on activities; and

(2) lead a high-level diplomatic effort to explore credible, alternative forums for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.

SEC. 4. Withholding of funds; Refund of United States taxpayer dollars.

(a) Withholding of previously-expended funds.—The Secretary of State shall withhold from the United States contribution to the regularly assessed biennial budget of the United Nations an amount that is equal to the percentage of such contribution that the Secretary determines would be or has been allocated by the United Nations for any part of the Durban Review Conference or its preparatory or follow-on activities.

(b) Withholding of funds To be expended in the future.—Until the Secretary of State submits to the appropriate congressional committees a certification, on a case-by-case basis, that the requirements described in subsection (d) have been satisfied, the United States shall withhold from the United States contribution to the regularly assessed biennial budget of the United Nations an amount that is equal to the percentage of such contribution that the Secretary determines has been allocated by the United Nations for any conference or other multilateral forum, or the preparatory or follow-on activities of any conference or other multilateral forum, that is organized under the aegis or jurisdiction of the United Nations or of any program, agency, or affiliate of the United Nations.

(c) Refund of United States taxpayer dollars.—Funds appropriated for use as a United States contribution to the regularly assessed biennial budget of the United Nations but withheld from obligation and expenditure pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) may be obligated and expended for that purpose upon the certification described in subsection (d). Such funds shall revert to the United States Treasury if no such certification is made by the date that is one year after such appropriation.

(d) Certification.—The certification referred to in subsection (b) is a certification made by the Secretary of State to the appropriate congressional committees concerning the following:

(1) The specified conference or forum did not reaffirm the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action (2001) or the outcome document of the Durban Review Conference (2009).

(2) The specified conference or forum was not used to single out the United States or the State of Israel for unfair or unbalanced criticism.

(3) The specified conference or forum was not used to propagate racism, racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, denial of the Holocaust, incitement to violence or genocide, xenophobia, or related intolerance.

(4) The specified conference or forum was not used to advocate for restrictions on the freedoms of speech, expression, religion, the press, assembly, or petition, or for restrictions on other fundamental human rights and freedoms.

(5) The leadership of the specified conference or forum does not include a Member State, or a representative from a Member State—

(A) subject to sanctions by the Security Council;

(B) under a Security Council-mandated investigation for human rights abuses; or

(C) the government of which the Secretary of State has determined, for purposes of section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (as continued in effect pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act), section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, or other provision of law, is a government that has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.

(e) Definition.—In this Act, the term “appropriate congressional committees” means—

(1) the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and

(2) the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.