UN members have met to commemorate Durban World Conference on Racism despite Israel’s months of lobbying to scuttle the event which aims to raise voice for marginalized communities including Palestinians. 

Countries from around the world have pledged to continue the fight against racism during a conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session despite Tel Aviv’s every possible attempt to stop members from attending the summit. 

Israel claims that at least 19 nations including the US boycotted the meeting. 

Israel’s lobbying fails

Like the previous meetings, Israel lobbied for months to stop UN members from attending the conference, which according to the Israel envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan is “fundamentally rotten”. 

Israeli officials lobbied to paint the conference as ‘anti-Semitic’, an argument that Israel often uses to divert criticism of its apartheid-like policies that discriminate against Palestinians. 

Earlier in 2001, the first conference was held in Durban, South Africa, which was marked by divisions after the civil rights activists denounced Zionism as racism. 

Eventually, a watered-down version of the declaration was adopted that mentioned Israel only twice and recognized the “plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation.” 

This Year Conference 

Nevertheless, the conference still went ahead this year.

The conference adopted a resolution that acknowledged and appreciated some progress but also deplored what it called a rise in discrimination, violence, and intolerance directed at people of African heritage and many other groups from the Roma to refugees, the young to the old, people with disabilities to people who have been displaced.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the gathering via video, “As we strive to correct the wrongs of the past, we must combat racism, sexism, and national chauvinism of the present.” 

“Just as we have united to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Let us recommit ourselves to implement” the promises made in Durban, he added. 

“Ending racism is a fight in which each of us has a stake,” Ramaphosa said.


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