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Sweden to boycott UN racism conference

TT/The Local · 18 Apr 2009, 11:56

Published: 18 Apr 2009 11:56 GMT+02:00

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“This has been a difficult and problematic negotiation that has certainly become more constructive and positive in the last week, but we have decided that Sweden will not be participating at the ministerial level,” she said.

In the days leading up to the conference, there have been intense discussions between, grossly oversimplified, “east and west” regarding differences over issues such as freedom of expression vs. religious freedom, the Holocaust and colonialism.

In the last week, the negotiations have led to the drafting of a document that has been seen by the conference as a success, according to Sabuni. But nevertheless, Sweden refuses to participate in a meeting where individuals such as the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has taken controversial stances on many of the issues, will be present. This is due to worry that it will be a repeat of the last conference on racism – which was chaotic – eight years ago.

Civil servants might still participate, depending on how the discussions unfold.

When asked by TT if she thought it might send a conflicting message to those powers who will come face-to-face with the EU during these negotations, Sabuni answered in the affirmative.

Story continues below…

“Yes, and if you read the document right now, it wouldn't be a problem. But the document is open and as a country, we must send clear signals about what is acceptable. In this case, we are not going to legitimize the non-democratic powers in place at the ministerial level in Durban,” she said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:08 April 18, 2009 by byke
I am not surprised sweden wont send an official considering the amount of breaches sweden makes on human rights.

Maybe sweden should look at its own breaches first before taking the high horse.
19:29 April 18, 2009 by ConnieLeePortman
Good decision Sweden!

Geneva conference taken over by radical Islamic countries who don't understand what is freedom of speech ,freedom of religion, human rights, etc
19:40 April 18, 2009 by Brtahan
Good , because its no use to speak about freedom of rights religion etc with people of no brains like Iran Government. Byke the one who wrote the first comment go to other countries and see the discrimination then speak about sweden here they are 1000 years more develop then then the middle east countries. there might be some verbal discrimination her and they prefer swedes more in certain things but it wont reach that they will kill because you are black, or different religion, or gay etc, like in iran.
21:04 April 18, 2009 by me_i_sverige
Good, this conference is just going to be a propaganda site for those countries where there is no absolute human right. I support Sweden decision.

Mr Byke, Can you show us some breaches on human rights made by Sweden? or, are you one of the so-called fake asylum-seeker rejected!!
00:16 April 19, 2009 by CanadianEh
Well no surprise there, Sweden looks like it's finally coming out of its neutral shell. But then again maybe they should send someone, maybe the delegates they send will be able to teach the rest of the country about how to socialise properly with human beings. What is the defintion of Freedom for one person may mean something else to someone else. There are too many arrogant people that do not understand how the world works but then again you've chosen the right country to be in, Sweden, where everyone looks at the shoes they wear instead of the people they have to live with....
08:01 April 19, 2009 by shpongle
Yes because Canada is doing so well with the diplomacy


Have fun over there though. Accused for being racist and intolerant by the most racist and intolerant countries in the world always makes good comedy though.
08:50 April 19, 2009 by CanadianEh
Response to "shpongle" I never said Canada was perfect. There are racist in Canada and there is currently a government that mimics the Bush administration. But then again every country including Sweden are Racist when it comes to profiling individuals because of race, reliegeon, and creed. Here are Sweden's examples...



However we need to looks past these differences and educate the public to battle these infringements on rights, and that's why this confference was set up by the UN. If you don't go you won't learn... Get it
09:48 April 19, 2009 by Peanuts
Just like a right wing government appropriate an Integration Minister who is really intolerant. It saves so much work.
09:49 April 19, 2009 by shpongle
lets put things into perspective.

On 23 January 2008, Canada stated it would not participate in the Durban Review Conference

On 19 November 2008, Israel announced it would boycott the Durban Review Conference.

On 27 February 2009, the United States announced it would boycott the conference

On 5 March 2009, Italy

On 12 March 2009, Australia's Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, said in the federal parliament that Australia would join Israel, Canada, the United States and Italy in withdrawing from the United Nations-sponsored conference if the draft documents were not revised. “If we form the view that the text is going to lead to nothing more than an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic harangue and an anti-Jewish propaganda exercise, Australia will not be in attendance,” Smith said

On March 14 the German federal government was considering a boycott of the conference.On April 16 Nooke stated at this point it was very unlikely that Germany would attend the Durban conference. [17]

On 16 March 2009, the European Union stated it would boycott the conference unless major changes were made to its declaration.[18] Britain said it would not attend unless the draft showed a "change in direction.

On 17 March 2009, Yuri Boychenko, chairman of the group responsible for drafting the conference's declaration, issued a draft that omitted any reference to the Palestinian territories or to defamation of religion. (i guess we'll see what effect this will have for hte participations)

On 18 April, it was revealed that the government of Sweden would boycott the conference, sending no ministers to the event. A spokesman said that such a presence would "legitimize undemocratic forces," adding that the country might send a lower level delegation

On 19 April, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith announced that Australia would be boycotting the conference.

The support in the west for this conference does seem overwhelming , doesn't it.
09:53 April 19, 2009 by RoyceD
I hardly think not representing yourself at an international conference is making a statement... I would have thought sending someone to voice your concerns is far more productive and is why we elect governments in the first place.
09:59 April 19, 2009 by shpongle
" but we have decided that Sweden will not be participating at the ministerial level,”

"Civil servants might still participate, depending on how the discussions unfold"

Unfortunatly these kind of things aren't exactly like casual discussion a bbq
16:33 April 19, 2009 by Mzungu
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has stirred outrage by repeatedly calling the Holocaust of the Jews a "myth", is the only prominent head of state so far scheduled to attend. <BBC> He does like to hear himself talk, a great opportunity beckons!

*at least tax payers will get off lightly*
18:16 April 19, 2009 by Iraniboy
Who talked about Iranian President in Swedish authorities? It seems to be only The Locals' paranoia!!

The funny part is that Ahmadinejad is still balmed for questioning Holocaust but nobody is blamed for recent massacres in Palestine and Lebanon and nobody is blamed when Israeli PM threaten to attack Iran!! Double Standards comes to mind.
18:53 April 19, 2009 by Kind Man
Some losers talks shits and call it freedom of speech did u know that? If not then look at yourself once again coz you sound like one of them who call Islamic countries radical.

Radical is those countries who make bombs, jetfighters, guns, and supports war and killing of innocent women who dies by these weapons in palastine,Afghanistan Iraq m m.
19:16 April 19, 2009 by glamshek
There is a huge communication gap between the West and the East. If a gay is a proud for the West, it is considered as an insult in the East. For all of this, such conferences provide a good platform to discuss things and minimize the gap. Sweden must go. If you do not have the logic, you run away as coward or attack as coward. So we do not expect this from a country that makes tall claims of Human Rights, Freedom of speech etc.
19:20 April 19, 2009 by glamshek
Do not run or attack like cowards. If you have a point, go and make it. If you cannot then accept the point of your opponent. Becoz you may not have it.
19:37 April 19, 2009 by voidplay
Way to go Sweden ... hear no evil from the axis of evils, there would be no CNN to cover your ass so better not go there and loose face. Anyway Uncle SAM is gonna spank you if you dare too.

Anyway it is very funny with people calling N.Korea childish for not throwing away its only trump card (N.Weapons.) and at the sametime hailing major power for being too sissys, to attend a world conference.
14:30 April 20, 2009 by jacks
Looks like a wise decision..

Probably, it might prove more rewarding for Sweden to focus on similar issues within own territory.
19:15 April 20, 2009 by shpongle
well, this was a huge success. who would've thought.
19:48 April 20, 2009 by voidplay
Refusing to participate in a dialog === fear of being criticized (Sweden, USA, UK)

= refusing to negotiate (Iran, N.Korea)

I wonder if the leadership in Iran and N.Korea are stronger and mature than these elected representatives.
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