WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate last week unanimously passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution denying financial support for the UN’s Durban II anti-racism conference.
The amendment introduced by Senator Norm Coleman prohibits funding for the conference, which is the follow-up to the UN World Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, and instead allocates the funds for domestic veterans’ services.
The United States and Israel walked out of the first Durban conference over anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activities. Observers fear Israel-bashing will take centre stage at Durban II as well.
“American tax dollars should not be used to support an international platform for hateful, anti-Semitic propaganda under the guise of combating racism,” Coleman said.
“Passage of this amendment sends a clear message from the Senate,” he added. “We will not dignify this hypocrisy with funding, and we call on the State Department to formally reject U.S. participation in it. The first Durban conference was bad enough – the late Rep. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and U.S. delegate, was part of the walk-out, calling it the most sickening display of anti-Semitism since the Nazi period. With Libya in the chair and Iran as a vice-chair, Durban II will likely be even worse.”
Recently, Coleman and 26 of his Senate colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging the State Department to shun Durban II. Coleman also passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill preventing U.S. funds from being used to support the UN Human Rights Council, which serves as the planning authority for the Durban conference. The amendment was in response to the council’s sole focus on demonizing Israel at the expense of reviewing urgent human rights situations throughout the world.
Forty countries joined the United States in voting against funding for Durban II in the UN biannual budget for 2008-09.