UK dithers on Durban follow-up conference

A 2001 snapshot of how the UN Conference on Racism was hijacked and turned into an anti-Zionist fest

A 2001 snapshot of how the UN Conference on Racism was hijacked and turned into an anti-Zionist fest

British Jewish organisations have called on the UK government to follow in the footsteps of the United States and boycott the follow-up to the Durban conference.

Last week the American administration said that the US would not attend the United Nations event in September, because it would be wrong to commemorate the "ugly displays of intolerance and antisemitism" of the conference of September 2001.

The US also declined to take part in a second conference in Geneva in 2009, but the UK did not do the same.

The Jewish Human Rights Coalition, which represents groups including the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Holocaust Education Trust, the Community Security Trust and B'nai B'rith London, urged the British government to take its cue from the US.

They said they welcomed the US's decision not to participate "in a process which has been deeply flawed from its inception and become synonymous with displays of intolerance and antisemitism rather than dealing with the important international fight against racism".

They added: "We call upon the UK government to take the same action and withdraw from the process."

But a spokesman for the Foreign Office said the UK had not yet decided whether to withdraw.

He said that the UK had voted against the resolution establishing the conference "in light of" the events of 2009. But he said a final decision about attendance had not been made.

"We will work closely with partners to ensure the meeting addresses all forms of racism, including antisemitism, and does not provide a platform for the type of offensive antisemitic rhetoric and behaviour that undermined the World Conference Against Racism in 2001 in Durban as well as the 2009 Durban Review Conference," he said.

"We will keep our position on participation and representation under review as a result of these efforts."

    Last updated: 2:19pm, June 10 2011