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Ninety-ninth session of the Committee on the Elimination of Raciel Discrimination opens in Geneva

5 August 2019 - The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its ninety-ninth session, during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Poland, El Salvador, Mexico, State of Palestine, Iceland, Mongolia and Czechia.  The Committee heard an address by Ibrahim Salama, Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopted the programme of work and revised agenda for the session.

In his opening statement, Mr. Salama said that the Committee continued to face great challenges, as it was confronted with the many manifestations of racial discrimination that were often rooted in racial stereotypes and resulted in racist hate, xenophobia, racism and intolerance in all parts of the world.  The Committee had been largely an actor of the United Nations’ tireless mobilization against hatreds of all kinds, as it had tirelessly worked to assist States parties to counter racial discrimination and defend victims.  The session occurred at a crucial moment for human rights treaty body system as the 2020 review opened new opportunities for fresh ideas to strengthen treaty bodies and their impact for the benefit of rights holders.

At the same time, treaty bodies were confronted with unprecedented challenges to fulfil their mandates, noted Mr. Salama.  In April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had informed the human rights treaty body Chairpersons about the shortfall in funding and restrictions in the 2019 allocation of the approved funds within the Secretariat, stating that this situation might require cancellation of treaty body sessions scheduled for later this year.  The prospect of unprecedented cuts in treaty bodies meeting time had prompted strong reactions: Chairpersons had made an urgent call for solutions to ensure the treaty bodies were able to fulfil their functions undiminished, while non-governmental organizations had expressed concern that the funding gap was likely to affect the effective delivery of the mandates of human rights mechanisms in 2020 and beyond.  Over the past months, the High Commissioner, along with the Secretary-General, had done her utmost to minimize negative impact of the financial cuts on the treaty body system, and had informed all the Committee Chairs that, together with the Secretary-General, she would seek a solution to ensure that the planned meetings could proceed with minimal disruptions.

Turning to the thirty-first annual meeting of the Chairpersons of the treaty bodies which had taken place in New York in June of this year, Mr. Salama said that it had focused on developing the Chairs’ vision for the future of the treaty body system.  The Chairs had also met with the Secretary-General who had affirmed the importance of the work done by the treaty bodies.  Mr. Salama encouraged the Committee to continue its review of its method of work, taking into account the harmonization of the system as a whole while respecting the specificity of each treaty body. 

The Committee had a tradition to partner with bodies that had a similar mandate or a mandate related to racial discrimination, to share experiences and good practices and its long-standing partnership with the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe was one example.  At its recently concluded twelfth session, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had adopted two reports relevant to the Committee’s mandate and work, on the indigenous specificities on migration, borders and displacement and the guiding principles on recognition, reparation, and reconciliation, including the recognition of indigenous peoples, the reparation and reconciliation that are related to past and current injustices.  Mr. Salama also drew the Committee’s attention to the report on the linkages between the extractive industries and structural racial inequality that the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance had presented at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in June 2019.

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked Mr. Salama for his work and that of his Office, which had allowed the Committee Chairpersons’ meeting in New York to take place.  He also thanked him for his clear intervention before the Committee.  He added that he would duly report on the Committee Chairpersons’ meeting to members of this Committee.

The Committee then adopted the programme of work and revised agenda for the session.

The ninety-ninth session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be held from 5 to 29 August.  All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.  

The Committee’s public meetings are webcast live at http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 9 August, at 3 p.m. to review the combined twenty-second to twenty-fourth periodic report of Poland (CERD/C/POL/22-24).

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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