GENEVA (31 July 2017) -The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its ninety-third session, during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts of Kuwait, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Djibouti, Tajikistan, Canada and New Zealand. The Committee heard an address by Adam Abdelmoula, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopted the session’s agenda and programme of work.
In his opening statement, Mr. Abdelmoula stressed that the fight against racism had to be relentless if it were to succeed - this could not be any clearer given the urgency and seriousness of the problems that many people throughout the world were facing on account of their origin. Many people faced race-based hostility and violence as they confronted or fled conflict, persecution and poverty; many faced forms of institutional and systemic racism including in law enforcement, access to justice, education, health, employment, land rights, and housing; and many were targets of racist hate speech and hate crimes that were tearing communities apart. “We are living in an alarming time when racism is being rehabilitated and legitimized in the name of security and nationalism”, said Mr. Abdelmoula.
Many States did not respect their reporting obligations and the Committee faced a very large number of outstanding reports; it had taken steps to overcome the problem, in particular by offering the simplified reporting procedure to States whose reports were overdue for over five years, said Mr. Abdelmoula and encouraged the Committee to continue to consult with State parties to identify creative ways to reduce the number of overdue reports. Through the treaty body capacity building programme, established by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/268 in 2015, the Office was actively working to support the States in strengthening their capacity to meet their treaty obligations; the programme, although young, had produced concrete results in terms of States’ compliance with their treaty obligations and had also improved the quality of the interactive dialogues with the treaty bodies.
Mr. Abdelmoula echoed the High Commissioner’s statement to the Human Rights Council on the importance of the follow-up to treaty body recommendations: treaty body reporting was essential, but in and of itself did not translate directly into the real progress. This might especially be true un matters of racial discrimination which required changing not only behaviours, but attitudes and views. That was why the recommendations and the follow up procedures the Committee engaged in were so crucial. The effective implementation of the recommendations would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the country level, and could serve as indicator of their implementation. The Director encouraged the Committee Experts to continue to reflect on how to increase the complementarity between their work and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Committee's individual complaint procedure mechanism was promising but it was regretful that the mechanism was under-utilized, as only fifty-seven States had accepted the procedure, said Mr. Abdelmoula, who then congratulated the Committee members elected in June and thanked those whose mandates would end this year.
Anastasia Crickley, Committee Chairperson, in her opening remarks, regretted that there were no significant improvements in the racial discrimination suffered by many people around the world. Complacency about racism remained and it had not disappeared since the adoption of the Convention more than fifty years ago. Ms. Crickley denounced the global toxic discourse of justifying security-enhancing processes, including the use of profiling against Muslims all over the world, regretted the continued legacy of slavery of people of African descent, and emphasized that the world needed not yield to the hierarchy of oppression.
The Committee then proceeded to adopt the agenda and programme of work of the ninety-third session.
More information on this session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public today, 31 July at 3 p.m. for an informal consultation with non-governmental organizations from the Russian Federation, whose report, as well as the report of Kuwait, will be reviewed this week.
For use of the information media; not an official record