U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
April 18, 2009
STATEMENT BY ROBERT A. WOOD, ACTING SPOKESMAN
Durban Review Conference
The United States is profoundly committed to ending racism and racial discrimination. This abiding commitment to the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination arises from the most painful pages of our history, and the most cherished values of our nation. We believe that people of every color and creed are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that equality and nondiscrimination are fundamental principles of international law.
The United States will work with all people and nations to build greater resolve and enduring political will to halt racism and discrimination wherever it occurs.
The United States is deeply grateful to the many country delegations, including Russia as chair, and senior United Nations officials who have worked steadfastly to improve the review conference outcome document and to re-focus the Durban Review Conference squarely on racism and discrimination. We applaud the progress that has been made. The current document is significantly improved compared with prior versions, which is an accomplishment for all who aim to build a world free of every form of discrimination.
However, the text still contains language that reaffirms in toto the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) from 2001, which the United States has long said it is unable to support. Its inclusion in the review conference document has the same effect as inserting that original text into the current document and re-adopting it. The DDPA singles out one particular conflict and prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The United States also has serious concerns with relatively new additions to the text regarding “incitement,” that run counter to the U.S. commitment to unfettered free speech.
Unfortunately, it now seems certain these remaining concerns will not be addressed in the document to be adopted by the conference next week. Therefore, with regret, the United States will not join the review conference. The United States remains fully committed to upholding the human rights of all individuals and to fighting racial discrimination of every form in every context. We will continue to work assiduously in all United Nations fora and with all nations to combat bigotry and end discrimination.