Brussels (Brussels Morning) France’s President Emmanuel Macron will not attend next month’s UN anti-racism conference because of the antisemitism that was expressed at previous conferences, his office has noted.
The move places France on a growing list of Western countries that are boycotting the Durban anti-racism conference, RFI reported on Saturday.
“Concerned by a history of antisemitic remarks made at the UN conference on racism, known as the Durban conference, the President of the Republic has decided that France will not participate in the follow-up conference to be held this year”, Macron’s office announced.
The anti-racism conference is being held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in in New York this September, marking the 20th anniversary of the 2001 Durban Conference.
Poor track record
The 2001 meeting was marked by acrimony over antisemitism, slavery and colonialism, and the format has always been controversial. At the 2009 Durban Conference, the then President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier, attacked Israel as a “cruel and repressive racist regime”. Several representatives of European nations walked out of the conference venue in protest.
Fourteen countries boycotted the 2011 conference.
“France will continue to fight against all forces of racism and will be watching to make sure that the Durban follow-up conference is held in accordance with the founding principles of the United Nations”, Macron’s office noted.
Last year, Macron warned about the rise of antisemitism in Europe and pledged to fight against antisemitism in all its forms. In recent days, the French government expressed its concern over antisemitic messages voiced at protest rallies about the imposition of pandemic-related restrictions seeking to control the spread of coronavirus.
In addition to France, countries that have announced they would not attend this year’s UN anti-racism conference include Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.