WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has decided not to participate in a UN conference against racism dubbed 'Durban 2', which is scheduled to take place in Switzerland in April. A senior US official said the White House would announce its intention soon.
US President Barack Obama's administration sent two representatives to Geneva last week, where negotiations on a document leading the event were taking place. The administration hoped it would succeed in getting anti-Israeli references dropped from the document, which characterizes Israel as a racist and occupying nation.
While the US presence was warmly welcomed, the senior official said Friday that in the negotiations a bad document became worse.
In choosing to withdraw participation from the conference the US is following the lead of Israel and Canada, and a number of European countries are currently awaiting an official statement from the White House in order to declare their refusal to participate as well.
Among those awaiting an official statement Friday were Australia, Holland, Denmark, and Britain.
The first conference in Durban, South Africa was littered with anti-Semitic sentiment and declared Israel one of the only racist states in the world. The Bush administration chose not to participate in the first conference but Obama decided to attempt discourse in order to try to change the final wording of the document set to emerge from the conference.
The US was hoping that the declarations made in Durban in 2001 would be stricken from the record and another document prepared, from which criticism against Israel and the period of slavery in the US would be absent.
However Obama's representatives were unsuccessful in imposing change, and the 100 clauses in the document still include many references to Israel.
The Holocaust and the murder of a third of the Jews in the world is expected to go unmentioned in the conference's final draft, but the document does currently include a passage rendering any criticism against Islam a criminal act.