The United States have pulled out of Durban II, the United Nations' conference on racism due to be held in Geneva on 20-24 April. The first conference, which actually was held in Durban in 2001, saw the United States and Israel walk out after Arab nations proposed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. Both Israel and Canada have already pulled out of Durban II, but the Obama had given some indication that the US might take part. However, the US confirmed it would not be involved amid signs that the conference would again focus on Israel, in a manner which some Jewish groups say amounts to little more than outright anti-Semitism.
The United States have also expressed concern about an expected attempt by Islamic states, under the umbrella of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, to push through a resolution condemning "defamation of religion", which has been widely interpreted as an attempt to introduce a blasphemy sanction into international law (we've reported on this previously on this blog).
Interestingly, we actually have a piece on this by veteran UN-watcher Ian Williams in the new issue of New Humanist, which is now on its way to subscribers. Williams argues that both the boycotters and those they are opposing risk destroying a process that could lead to some real progress. I'll blog it once I put it online later this week.