Dutch boycott UN anti-racism summit

The Netherlands is to join the US, Australia, Canada and Israel in boycotting this week’s UN anti-racism summit in Geneva.

According to foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen, the draft text of the conference’s final declaration is ‘unacceptable’.
On the ministry’s website, Verhagen says: ‘The conference against racism is too important to be misused for political ends and attacks on the West. The Netherlands will not take part [in the conference].’
The anti-racism conference has been ‘over-shadowed by political wrangling between western and Muslim nations’ reports the BBC.
Missed opportunity
Verhagen says the draft declaration is a missed opportunity. ‘A number of countries which themselves have a long way to go when it comes to human rights are abusing the summit to put religion above human rights, unnecessarily limit freedom of expression…. and implicitly put Israel in the dock as the only guilty party [in the Middle East conflict].’
According to the Dutch foreign affairs ministry, the Netherlands submitted a number of alternative texts for the final declaration but the mood remains ‘grim’.
As a result the Netherlands has lost its confidence that an acceptable declaration can be agreed and no longer believes that the conference can make a contribution to the fight against racism, says Verhagen.
The anti-racism organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur is angry at the Dutch government’s decision to boycott the conference.
‘By not taking part in the conference the Netherlands is sending out a signal that fighting racism is not important,’ chairman René Damen told ANP news service on Sunday.

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