The Israel Institute of New Zealand welcomes the news that New Zealand will not be attending ‘Durban IV’, on 22 September, convened by the UN General Assembly to mark the 20th anniversary of the Durban Conference.
The inaugural 2001 Durban Conference was marked by ugly displays of intolerance, antisemitism, and baseless claims against the Jewish state, contrary to its stated purpose of combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Durban process was used to promote racism, intolerance, antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and to deny Israel’s right to exist.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been reported as saying “New Zealand remains strongly committed to combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Consistent with our long-standing position, New Zealand will not attend the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration conference in New York on 22 September 2021”.
New Zealand has taken a strong stand in past years in opposing the antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment that has become synonymous with Durban.
Prior to Durban III, Foreign Minister Murray McCully explained,
“When the World Conference Against Racism was held in Durban, South Africa, seven years ago it was extremely contentious. It gave rise to expressions of anti-Israeli views which undermined its focus on genuine anti-racism initiatives… I am not satisfied that the wording emerging from preparatory discussions will prevent the Review Conference from descending into the same kind of rancorous and unproductive debate that took place in 2001.”
Hundreds of concerned New Zealand citizens wrote to Foreign Minister Mahuta urging her to take a stand against racism by not attending the events. We are dismayed that it took so long for her to make a decision but we are pleased that the government has come to the right decision in refusing to support the flawed Durban process.