The US, Canada, and Australia, three countries that emerged from white-settler colonialism, claim that the international conference on racism and xenophobia hosted by the UN 'unfairly' targets Israel.

Canada has joined the US and Australia in boycotting the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, known as Durban IV, citing the event’s tradition of criticising Israel’s occupation of Palestine. 

“Canada opposes initiatives at the United Nations and in other multilateral forums that unfairly single out and target Israel for criticism," Global Affairs Canada spokesman Grantly Franklin said.

Calling the conference “a forum for antisemitism”, the spokesman also equated the criticism of Zionism and Israel’s policies to anti-semitism. 

“Canada is concerned that the Durban Process has and continues to be used to push for anti-Israel sentiment and as a forum for antisemitism. That is why we do not plan to attend or participate in events surrounding the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action,” the spokesman added.

His remarks came after Australia and the US announced their withdrawal from the conference.  Similarly, in 2009 and 2011, Western countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand boycotted the conference, claiming the summit “unfairly” targets Israel. 

However, the three white-settler countries are also worried about the growing calls for an apology over their role in colonialism, the enslavement of Africans and reparations to the colonised nations. 

The conference, which will be held in New York in September, will mark the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action under the theme of “Reparations, racial justice and equality for People of African Descent.”

The World Conference Against Racism is a series of international events organised by UNESCO to promote and support the struggle against racist ideologies and policies across the world. Four conferences were held in 1978, 1983, 2001 and 2009.

The 2001 conference, also known as Durban I, witnessed walkouts by the US and Israeli delegates offended by the draft resolution which called Israel’s founding expansionist ideology of Zionism racist. 

The final draft of the resolution did not condemn Zionism but it recognised the self-determination rights of Palestinians and supported the independent state of Palestine. 

In 2011, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Durban conference, the world leaders agreed on a declaration, proclaiming their "strong determination to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the protection of the victims thereof, a high priority for [their] countries." The year was also celebrated as the International Year for People of African Descent.

Last month, Human Rights Watch published a 213-page report in which the group said Israel pursues policies of apartheid and persecution against the Palestinians in the occupied territories and the Palestinian minority in Israel, which amount to crimes against humanity. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies