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Background on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards

The Durban Declaration

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, in its paragraph 199, “recommends that the [then] Commission on Human Rights prepare complementary international standards to strengthen and update international instruments against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their aspects”. This task was initially entrusted to the Intergovernmental Working Group to follow up on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The Intergovernmental Working Group

Prior to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee, The Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 2002/68, created the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (IGWG) to follow up on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. The mandate of the Intergovernmental Working Group, as set out in the above resolution, is:

(1) to make recommendations with a view to the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; and,

(2) to prepare complementary international standards to strengthen and update international instruments against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their aspects.

The IGWG devoted an important part of its agenda to discussions on the questions as to whether:

(a) there are gaps in the legal framework for countering racism and xenophobia (b) if so, how they are to be filled.  In its 2006 report, the Working Group recommended, inter alia, the following:

(a) On the issue of the procedural gaps,  the IGWG  requested the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to conduct a further study on possible measures to strengthen implementation through additional recommendations or the update of its monitoring procedures;
(b) On the issue of substantive gaps, the IGWGrecommended that OHCHR select, in close consultation with regional groups, five highly qualified experts to study the content and scope of the substantive gaps in the existing international instruments to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.


Studies by Group of Experts and the CERD Committee

In its resolution 1/5 of 30 June 2006, the Human Rights Council requested the group of experts “…to produce a base document that contains concrete recommendations on the means or avenues to bridge these gaps including but not limited to, the drafting of a new optional protocol to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or the adoption of new instruments such as conventions or declarations”.

Pursuant to the above resolution: (i) the five experts submitted their study, entitled “Report on the study by the five experts on the content and scope of substantive gaps in the existing international instruments to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (A/HRC/4/WG.3/6); and (ii) the CERD submitted the “Study by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on possible measures to strengthen implementation through optional recommendations or the update of its monitoring procedures” (A/HRC/4/WG.3/7). Both studies were submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 6th session.

The establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee

The fifth session of the IGWG marked the conclusion and closure of the Working Group’s debates and deliberations on the question of complementary standards, as the Human Rights Council in its decision 3/103 entrusted this task to the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards. In the same decision, the Council also decided “to request that the Ad Hoc Committee … use all the documents presented to it as background material for commencing its process of elaborating complementary standards, and that one of its main priorities be to ensure that the draft instrument(s) is/are produced for negotiations”.