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UN World Conference against Racism

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to withdraw from the UN Durban 2 anti-racism conference; what recent discussions he has had with (a) EU member states, (b) the US administration and (c) the government of Israel on this issue; what recent representations he has received (i) supporting and (ii) opposing a withdrawal from the conference; and if he will make a statement. (263262)

The UK is still engaged in the Durban Review process and we will keep our position under review. We hope that there is still time to return the focus of preparations to reviewing work undertaken to combat racism and implement the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, thus enhancing the prospect of a consensus outcome. But a change in this direction will be required for any outcome document to gain our support.

We have, on several occasions, expressed our view on the Durban Review Conference: we want the conference to forge a collective will to fight against racism in all its forms, in all countries in the world. The Government remain deeply concerned about the draft outcome document.

Ministers and officials have had regular discussions with EU partners and the US administration on the Durban Review Conference. I discussed it with the Israeli ambassador when he called on me on 11 March 2009.

We have received numerous representations both urging us to remain engaged in the process to strengthen the concluding document, and also expressing concern about the direction it has taken.