U.S. May Boycott U.N. Racism Conference Over Document

Thanks for the heads up to WHALERTY BLOG

A decision on whether or not the United States will join the U.N. Human Rights Council has not been made, but the U.S. will send an official to Geneva to participate in the proceedings of the Council.   U.N. officials feel it is important for the Obama administration to participate in the April conference, especially so since he is the first African American U.S. president.  Human rights advocates are pitted against the American Jewish organizations who have called for a boycott of the conference.

The anti-Defamation League supports the administration in it’s refusal to participate.

By Colum Lynch

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, February 28, 2009; Page A06

NEW YORK, Feb. 27 — The Obama administration has said it will boycott a major U.N. conference on racism scheduled for April unless significant changes are made to the draft outcome document, which U.S. officials say unfairly singles out Israel for censure and could restrict freedom of speech.

A State Department official said that the current text is “unsalvageable” and that the United States would reconsider its position only if the negotiators stripped out provisions criticizing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and recommendations for restrictions on the defamation of religions, an initiative by Islamic states that Washington fears could undercut free speech. The United States also opposes any language requiring reparations for slavery.

A U.S. delegation went to Geneva last week to participate in preliminary negotiations for the conference, which is being held to review progress on a declaration from the 2001 World Summit Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The United States and Israel walked out of that meeting, held in Durban, South Africa, citing anti-Israel bias.


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