UN Watch congratulates the United States for announcing today that it will stay away from the UN’s upcoming 10th anniversary commemoration of the 2001 Durban conference, a supposed anti-racism gathering that turned into a global festival of hate. The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the first to announce it would not participate in the planned “Durban III” summit of world leaders, followed by Israel. UN Watch obtained a copy of the following letter sent today by the US State Department to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who in December led a coalition of 18 senators calling on the Obama Administration to follow Canada’s lead and pull out.
June 1, 2011
Dear Senator Gillibrand:
I am writing to respond to your letter to Ambassador Rice about the proposed 10-year commemoration of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (the Durban Commemoration) to be held in New York in September 2011.
The United States will not participate in the Durban Commemoration. In December, we voted against the resolution establishing this event because the Durban process included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we did not want to see that commemorated. The United States delegation in New York has not been involved in the formal negotiations on the modalities resolution or the outcome document and has had a notetaker only in these proceedings. We share your concern about the Durban commemoration’s timing and venue as just days earlier, we will have held solemn ten-year memorials for those murdered in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The United States is fully committed to upholding the human rights of all people and to combating racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, and bigotry. In 2009, after working to try to achieve a positive, constructive outcome in the Durban Review Conference, we withdrew from participating because the conference reaffirmed the original 2001 Durban Declaration, which unfairly singled out Israel and included language inconsistent with U.S. traditions of robust free speech.
We remain deeply committed to fighting racism at home and abroad, including through enhanced implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. As a matter of both principle and policy, we will always stand ready to work with all partners to uphold human rights and combat bigotry and discrimination around the world.
Joseph E. Macmanus
Acting Assistant Secretary
(U.S. State Department)