Thirty-one nations have so far decided to boycott a U.N. meeting marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban World Conference on Racism later this week due to the event’s antisemitic nature in the past, marking a major diplomatic win for Israel.The first conference was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001, and covered several controversial issues, including redress for transatlantic slavery and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The United States and Israeli delegations withdrew from the event over objections to a draft document equating Zionism with racism.
The conference’s goal was to tackle the issue of racism, but quickly devolved into an openly anti-Israel event, led by Palestinian and boycott groups.
Since then, a follow-up conference has been held at the U.N. General Assembly every five years. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak as a guest of honor in the event’s 2009 edition and called for the destruction of Israel.
Earlier this year, the United States and Israel voted against the approval of the U.N. budget for 2021 in protest of the organization’s decision to hold the rally at this year’s General Assembly.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid led the efforts to boycott the commemorative event, having spoken to dozens of his counterparts around the world. Other Israeli diplomats also took part in the boycott campaign, spearheaded by Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan.
As of Sunday, 20 countries have already officially announced their intentions to boycott the conference, including the United States, Canada, Australia, the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, New Zealand, Slovenia and Slovakia.
Eleven other nations have also decided to pull out from the event but have yet to issue an official statement.
Other nations that will take part in the conference, such as Belgium, were convinced to downgrade their delegates participating in the event.