UN chief urges nations not to abuse racism debate

September 23, 2011 04:30

UNITED NATIONS - A decade after an acrimonious summit on racism, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged nations on Thursday not to use the issue for "inflammatory rhetoric," a reference to attempts to brand Israel as racist.

"We are all aware that the original Durban conference and its follow-up two years ago caused immense controversy," the UN secretary-general told a meeting on Thursday marking the 10th anniversary of the Durban, South Africa, conference.

"We should condemn anyone who uses this platform to subvert that effort with inflammatory rhetoric, baseless assertions and hateful speech. Our common commitment must be to focus on the real problems of racism and intolerance," he said.

The Durban event was marked by wrangling about Middle Eastern and African demands for reparations for slavery, and attempts by Islamic countries to brand Israel as racist. Israel and the United States walked out of the conference.

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