Lee, in her capacity as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued a statement this morning complaining about the Obama Administration’s decision to boycott the United Nations’ 2009 Durban Review Conference addressing racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.
The State Department issued a statement Saturday saying the conference’s draft outcome document still contains language that unfairly singles out Israel for criticism as well as language which could lead to free-speech restrictions. Lee said she and the CBC are “deeply dismayed” by the boycott.
“This decision is inconsistent with the administration’s policy of engaging with those we agree with and those we disagree with, expressed by President Obama during the G20 and on other recent occasions,” her statement said.
“The United States has a unique experience and history of combating racism and intolerance. As a result, the United States is well suited to play a leadership role in overcoming racism and related intolerances, which remain one of the great challenges facing many around the globe,” she said. “By boycotting Durban, the U.S. is making it more difficult for it to play a leadership role on UN Human Rights Council as it states it plans to do. This is a missed opportunity, plain and simple.
“Had the United States sent a high-level delegation reflecting the richness and diversity of our country, it would have sent a powerful message to the world that we’re ready to lead by example. Instead, the administration opted to boycott the conference, a decision that does not advance the cause of combating racism and intolerance, but rather sets the cause back.”