On 21 December 1965, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2106, which established the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). It is among the oldest conventions in the UN Human Rights Office arsenal to target oppression and discrimination.
The Convention essentially resolves to “to adopt all necessary measures for speedily eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations, and to prevent and combat racist doctrines and practices in order to promote understanding between races and to build an international community free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination.”
2015 marks 50 years since the adoption of the Convention. It was forged during the time of great civil unrest in parts of the world. The drafting took place during the civil rights movement in the United States, whose Civil Rights Act was passed just prior to its adoption. Apartheid was at its height in South Africa, with the Sharpeville Massacre bringing the cruelty of the regime into international focus. And many countries in Africa were doing away with colonialism for independence.
Yet, despite these milestones, racism continues to plague societies. To combat it, ICERD continues to examine the situation in each country that has ratified the Convention through its committee. In fact, the 177 States that have ratified the Convention must regularly report to and appear before the committee in Geneva. The committee, in turn, issues concrete recommendations on how various forms of racism that exist in each country can be effectively eliminated.