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Call for submissions: Thematic report on reparations, racial justice, and equality

For her 2019 report to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance intends to discuss a human rights-based approach to reparations and its role in securing racial justice and equality. Seeking to inform her report with a diverse representation of views, the Special Rapporteur requests interested stakeholders to provide her with written submissions.

Background

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination requires States to ensure affected individuals enjoy access to justice and effective remedies—including just and adequate reparation—for rights violations1. This obligation is not exceptional, but rather a core principle of the UN human rights system. Every major human rights treaty envisions access adequate redress for violations2.

The UN human rights system has underscored this obligation through the work of its mandates and treaty bodies, as well as through the production of relevant guidelines3. Other UN actions, such as the 2001 World Conference Against Racism and its adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, have also emphasized this fundamental obligation4.

Despite ratification of treaties and general recognition of their obligation to provide reparations, most States have failed to guarantee sufficiently comprehensive recognition, remedies, and reparations for violations of the right to be free from racial discrimination5. Some States have pursued reparations programs for gross violations of human rights, only for implementation gaps to mar the satisfaction of their obligations6. Many other States have declined to engage meaningfully with reparatory justice obligations, even declining to enact policies that examine the viability of reparations policies7.

Purpose of the report

For her 2019 report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur intends to discuss a human rights-based approach to reparations and its role in securing racial justice and equality. In this report, she hopes to reflect on the continued disconnect between State acceptance of obligations to ensure racial justice and equality through reparations and subsequent State action. She will map the interaction between human rights-based visions for racial justice, equality, and reparations. Drawing upon original research and submissions from stakeholders, she will also outline opportunities to advance reparations for racial justice and equality and issue relevant recommendations.

Call for submissions

To inform her report, the Special Rapporteur wishes to receive input from relevant stakeholders, including national and local governments, national and international non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and equality bodies, inter-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and entities, activists, academics, and corporations. She invites all interested stakeholders to provide information and share views on any of the following issues:

  • Aspects of the reparations debates within the United Nations human rights system that have received insufficient attention in prior reports
  • Challenges and opportunities for achieving racial justice through reparations mechanisms
  • Barriers to advancing reparations mechanisms
  • Lessons learned from past reparations schemes
  • Complex reparations schemes, including schemes requiring land transfers or envisioning migration or transfer of populations
  • How positive measures, development, and other structural policies aimed at achieving racial equality interplay with effective reparations schemes
  • Perspectives on existing standards for reparations within international law
  • Ensuring that reparations mechanisms respect the inherent dignity of victims and facilitate robust participation throughout both planning and execution
  • The obligation of States to ensure private actors pay reparations for their violations or contributions to racial discrimination
  • Lessons learned from previous and current domestic and transnational advocacy for reparations

How to make submissions to the Special Rapporteur

Please email your written submissions to racism@ohchr.org. The mandate also accepts mail and fax submissions sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, CH-1211, Geneva 10 (Fax: +41 22 917 90 06).

The mandate will receive written submissions through 30 June 2019, but strongly encourages early submissions.

With apologies, the mandate can only accept in English, French, or Spanish.

Publication of submissions

The Special Rapporteur promotes the publication of written submissions as they may serve as a useful resource for interested stakeholders. Unless otherwise directed by the submitting party, the mandate will publish received submissions on the website of the Special Rapporteur. Publication will occur shortly after the Special Rapporteur presents her report to the General Assembly.


Notes:

1. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Art. 6.

2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Art. 6; Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art. 8; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Art. 2; Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Art. 14; Convention on the Rights of the Child Art. 39; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Art. 2.

3. See, e.g.,G.A. Res. 60/147 (Dec. 16, 2005) (Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law).

4. A/CONF.189/12, paras. 165-166 (calling on governments to ensure the rights of all persons to access justice and urging states to provide effective remedies and reparations to victims of acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance).  

5. See A/RES/69/16, paras. 4, 17(i).

6. See A/69/518.

7. A/HRC/33/61/Add.2, para. 68, 91, 94; A/HRC/36/60/Add.2, para. 53.