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June 2, 2011 10:44 am

U.S. Pulls Out From U.N. Durban III Summit

avatar by Maxine Dovere

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke about the strong relationship between the United States and Israel at a recent legislative forum. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Bipartisan Position Urging U.S. To Skip Forum for Anti-Semitic and Anti-American Demonstrations

Washington, DC – The Obama Administration has officially announced that the United States will “refrain from participating” in the United Nation’s Durban III World Conference against Racism.

In December, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand headed the submission of a letter to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. The bipartisan group of senators said that, in past, the “Durban Conference” has been a forum for anti-Semitic and anti-American demonstrations. The Senators expressed disappointment with the United Nation’s decision to hold the conference in New York City on September 21st, 2011, just days after the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

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On November 23, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations announced its decision to hold the Durban III World Conference against Racism in New York City, September 21st, 2011. Concerned that this conference will meet a similar fate and result in similar pronouncements as the previous two, U.S. Senators wrote to Ambassador Rice urging her to remove the United States from participating in this conference.

Commending the administration’s action, Gillibrand commented that “It is an insult to America that the United Nations has decided to hold the Durban III conference in New York City just days from the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. We all witnessed how extreme anti-Semitic and anti-American voices took over Durban I and Durban II and we should expect the same thing to happen with Durban III.”

The Senators’ full letter to U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Rice:

December 17, 2010

The Honorable Susan E. Rice

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

United States Mission to the United Nations

799 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017

Dear Ambassador Rice,

We write to express our dismay regarding the United Nations decision on November 23, 2010 to hold the Durban III World Conference Against Racism in New York City on September 21, 2011, just days after the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

We appreciate the United States’ strong statement opposing the resolution on Durban III.  However, we urge you to again refrain from participating in the conference as long as it undermines the very goal of fighting discrimination with a demonstration of anti-Semitism.  We applaud the Canadian government’s decision to boycott the event.  We believe that the United States ought to demonstrate leadership on these issues by removing itself from association with Durban III and encouraging other nations to do the same.

Unfortunately last year the 2009 U.N. Durban Review Conference Against Racism (Durban II) proved to be a repeat of the 2001 controversial summit as extreme anti-Semitic voices took over Durban II, and the United States and our allies were forced to pull out. The United States had likewise withdrawn from participating in Durban I primarily because the conference was viewed as disproportionately focused on Israel and the United States. We are very concerned that Durban III will follow in the pattern of the two preceding conferences by serving once again as a forum for anti-Semitic and anti-American demonstrations, which would again taint this opportunity to combat the abhorrent practices of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related forms of intolerance.

It is important that the United States send a strong signal that another anti-Semitic and anti-American Durban Conference particularly held so close to the tenth anniversary and location of the worst terrorist attack in American history is unacceptable.  We can send this signal by making clear now that the United States will not participate in this gathering.  Of course, we would welcome the United States’ eventual return to the conference if it were to become a legitimate forum for combating discrimination – but that is a development that seems highly improbable to us.

We respectfully ask that you keep us abreast of any developments and offer our assistance in efforts to combat racism and anti-Semitism.

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