Sweden was the latest country to announce that it was boycotting the Durban IV conference which takes place this week in New York.
In a statement, the Swedish foreign ministry said: “Sweden is not participating in the UN meeting to draw attention to the fact that the Durban Declaration and its action plan celebrate its 20th anniversary on 22 September. There is a long and politically charged history behind the Durban Conference and its follow-up meetings. The previous conferences have i.a. criticized for not adequately addressing the issue, that is, the fight against racism. They have also been criticized for having anti-Semitic elements and for directing disproportionate criticism of Israel. Several countries therefore do not associate the Durban Conference with the fight against racism, and the process has become politicized. As a result, several countries have chosen not to participate at all in previous conferences, as in today’s meeting. Among other things, a majority of EU Member States have chosen not to participate, against this background. Sweden has made the same decision.”
Sweden’s decision to skip the the conference came a few days after, for the first time in seven years, an Israeli Foreign Minister – Yair Lapid- spoke with his Swedish counterpart, Annn Linde.
‘’Thirty-three countries boycotted anti-Semitic conferencen in New York following focused and successful diplomatic efforts by the Foreign Ministry,’’ Lapid tweeted.
The post was accompanied by a montage of the flags of the countries boycotting.
The conference, which takes place on the sidelines of the UN General Assemby, is marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration, which was adopted at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism.
The first 2001 Durban conference in South Africa was marked by deep divisions on issues of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, colonialism and slavery. Nongovernmental organizations that participated in the conference accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, arguing Israel was an apartheid state and Zionism was racism.