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A new electronic database helps eradicate racial discrimination

Two decades after the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, “the ugliness and brutality of racial discrimination and xenophobia are still with us,” said UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay at an event to launch a database containing information on practical means to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The database, developed by the UN Human Rights Office, with the financial support of Germany and the Russian Federation, is accessible to everyone at adsdatabase.ohchr.org.

Pillay said that the unique compilation of advice, legal precedent and know-how in the database provides new and concrete ways to counter racial discrimination and xenophobia.

Its content illustrates existing measures and practices to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at the international, regional and national levels.
“Our new database will not only encourage the replication of good practices contained in it,” said Pillay “but also further empower all stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations, academia, the media and individual citizens with knowledge on how to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

“This database consists of more than 1,500 documents and contributions from more than 90 countries, a wealth of vital human rights information from all over the world today made accessible to everyone,” she said.

The database includes the texts of relevant international and regional instruments; information on existing avenues for remedy, recourse, redress and compensation; relevant decisions of international, regional and national courts; legal measures adopted by States - including anti-discrimination legislation, constitutional law and other type of legal measures; documents containing information on policy measures - including National Action Plans; and information on institutional measures – including committees, working groups, networks, focal points. Links to relevant websites are also included and existing measures to combat racism are categorized under different thematic areas.

The database was launched on 11 September 2013 in Geneva, at an event jointly organized by the UN Human Rights Office, the Permanent Mission of Germany the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation at the United Nations.

“We call upon all members of the international community, and certainly upon all members of the Human Rights Council, to actively fight all sorts of racism in society by supporting, cooperating with and contributing to this database,” said Hanns. H. Schumacher, German Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other organizations in Geneva.

Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation Andrey Nikiforov said that each country has its own unique experience of combating racism, and expressed concerns over the rise of contemporary forms of racism including the resurgence of neo-Nazism, neo-Fascism and violent nationalist ideologies based on racial and national prejudice. He expressed hope that the newly-launched database would serve as a bridge between national and international policies in prevention and elimination of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Pillay added that many countries in the world have yet to adopt effective laws against racial discrimination and for racial equality. “Even where national anti-discrimination legislation exists, we all know that its effective application can be a challenge,” she said. “That’s why I am confident that this research and policy tool will make a real difference.”

Any comments on and contributions to the database may be sent to: adsdatabase@ohchr.org

16 September 2013

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