U.S. Boycotts International Racism Conference

Published April 20, 2009

The Obama administration broke the suspense over whether the United States would participate in the U.N. Conference on Racism next week, saying that “with regret” it would decline the invitation.

The U.S. State Department cited “objectionable language” in the meeting’s final document, which singles out Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Obama officials had expressed a desire to attend, but warned that it would boycott the April 20-25 conference in Geneva, Switzerland, unless the language was modified.

"Unfortunately, it now seems certain these remaining concerns will not be addressed in the document to be adopted by the conference next week," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement. "Therefore, with regret, the United States will not join the review conference."

The decision mirrors that of the Bush administration in 2001. For many African Americans, the decision by the nation’s first Black president is a major disappointment.

Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus were outspoken critics of the decision to stay home from the Durban, South Africa-based conference eight years ago, and some observers contend that America’s absence precipitated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Written by BET.com News Staff

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