19 Apr 2009

Govt considers whether to boycott UN racism forum

6:14 pm on 19 April 2009

The Government says it is considering boycotting a United Nations conference on racism which begins in Geneva on Monday.

The United States on Sunday pulled out of the conference after its State Department cited objectionable language in its draft declaration.

The Geneva meeting follows a 2001 conference on racism in Durban which the US and Israel walked out of when Arab states tried to define Zionism as racist.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully on Sunday told TVNZ's Q&A programme that he has discussed the issue with his Australian counterpart.

Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says he has decided not to go to the conference because he is concerned it will again be used to air offensive views.

Mr McCully says there is a "distinct possibility" New Zealand will also boycott the conference.

The five-day Durban Review Conference is due to open on Monday.

EU diplomats were still consulting on Saturday on whether to attend the conference. Canada and Israel said earlier that they would not attend.