THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 22, 2011
Several months ago, the United States announced that we would not participate in the 10-year commemoration of the 2001 Durban Conference. Consistent with that decision, we are not attending today’s high level event in New York.
Since its inception at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, the Durban process has included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism. In 2009, after working to try to achieve a positive, constructive outcome in the Durban Review Conference that would get past the deep flaws of the Durban process to date to focus on the critical issues of racism, the United States withdrew from participating because the review conference’s outcome document reaffirmed, in its entirety, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) from 2001, which unfairly and unacceptably singled out Israel. The DDPA also endorsed overbroad restrictions on freedom of expression that run counter to the U.S. commitment to robust free speech.
Last December, the United States voted against the resolution establishing the commemoration because we did not want to see the hateful and anti-Semitic displays of the 2001 Durban Conference commemorated.
Over the last few months, we did not participate in negotiations on the Commemoration’s Political Declaration document and, like many other countries, we were not present when the Declaration was adopted. We are also deeply disappointed that the rules established for credentialing non-governmental organizations to participate were used by some delegations to silence voices critical of the Durban process.
The United States is profoundly committed to ending racism and racial discrimination. We remain fully and firmly committed to upholding the human rights of all people and to combating racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, anti-Semitism and bigotry, including through enhanced implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This commitment is rooted in the saddest chapters of our history and reflected in the most cherished values of our union. We will continue to work in partnership with all nations of goodwill to uphold human rights and combat racism, bigotry, and racial discrimination in all forms and all places.