U.S. Pulls Out of Latest United Nations ‘Racism’ Conference
Five months after a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged the Obama administration to announce immediately its intention to stay away from a United Nations racism conference to be held in September, the State Department announced Wednesday that it would not attend the event.
The plan has stoked controversy both because earlier such events have been marred by anti-Israel rhetoric, and because of the conference’s venue and timing – in New York City, just days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The decision to avoid “Durban III” came in a letter from State Department official Joseph Macmanus to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who spearheaded opposition in the Senate to U.S. participation in the conference.
Macmanus wrote that the so-called “Durban process” over the past decade “included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we did not want to see that commemorated” in New York in September.
His comment was essentially a reprise of a statement made by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice after the U.S. last December voted against a General Assembly resolution approving the conference. (The measure passed by a vote of 104-22, with 33 countries abstaining.)
Gillibrand and 17 other senators, Republican and Democrat, wrote to Rice in December, urging the U.S. to send a signal to the international community “by making clear now that the United States will not participate in this gathering.”