August 7, 2009


The Simon Wiesenthal Center said today that Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Irish President, was a wrong choice to receive the United States Medal of Freedom.

“Mary Robinson, as President of Ireland achieved many important things But her signature moment in history came when as Secretary General of the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, in Durban, South Africa (WCAR), was hijacked by extremist groups and degenerated into an ugly anti-American and anti-Semitic debacle-- gravely wounded the cause of Human Rights,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper associate dean of the leading Jewish NGO. Rabbi Cooper served as a spokesman for the Jewish Caucus at the Durban conference.

“Ms. Robinson set the stage for the troubles at Durban, when she approved a February 2201 preparatory conference in Tehran, which despite her assurances barred the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a Baha’i NGO from attending. It was that meeting that set the stage for the demonization of Israel and demands for reparations from the US for 18th and 19th century slavery. Yet she saw it as a constructive meeting of civilizations,” Cooper added.

Cooper said that Robinson later rebuffed then US Secretary of State Colin Powell's efforts to save the WCAR from being torpedoed by extremists. As a result, the US boycotted Durban.

“As a key human rights figure, at including during her tenure as head of the UN Human Rights Commission, she failed to stop or slow down the international campaign to denigrate and demonize Israel which gained so much momentum and legitimacy from the boiler plate anti-Israel resolutions passed by Israel's enemies,” concluded Cooper.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.