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Global toxic discourse fuelling and fanning flames of racial discrimination - UN human rights expert body tells States

NEW YORK (31 October 2017) – The legacies of early forms of racism, including colonialism, coupled with a global toxic discourse are fuelling and fanning the flames of racial discrimination throughout the world, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) today told States at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly’s 72nd session, Committee Chairperson Anastasia Crickley called on the international community to name and address racism, including through special measures, against all those who face persistent discrimination, including people of African descent, Roma communities, indigenous peoples and people perceived to be Muslims.

“Apartheid has ended, civil rights were achieved, European Union Directives to protect against discrimination in its member States have been adopted, and the 178 countries which have ratified the ICERD, have put in place laws to address racism,” Crickley told the General Assembly. “Yet, none of these are or could have been ends in themselves. Special measures as outlined in CERD's General Recommendation No. 32* are required to create the conditions for the social and economic access necessary for full rights realisation. Their absence continues to diminish the outcome of hard won gains and leave widening differentials between marginalised minorities and other sections of the population.”

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial discrimination has repeatedly urged States to abide by obligations they freely entered into, in particular in relation to migrants. Crickley also called on States to uphold the principle of non-refoulement without discrimination, to halt racist hate speech and violence against migrants and refugees, including by border guards and other law enforcement officials, to hold accountable perpetrators and compensate victims, and to outlaw organizations including, political parties, that promote and incite racial discrimination.

“At a time when some political leaders either use hate rhetoric or fail to unequivocally condemn racist attacks and therefore send the message that these might, somehow, be tolerated if not legitimated, it is our collective and urgent responsibility to articulate and address these issues immediately and everywhere,” she said.

“States need to adopt and implement legislation which prohibits officials from engaging in racial profiling, take special measures to eliminate it and avoid policies and programmes which can give rise to it. Resolute action is required by all Governments, including high-level politicians, not only to reject and condemn racist hate speech and racist crimes, to combat racial discrimination and xenophobia against refugees and migrants, among other groups, but also to actively contribute to the promotion of understanding, inclusiveness, and diversity between ethnic groups.”

Crickley also called on the 11 States that have yet to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to do so promptly.

“Those which have not ratified include Myanmar from where reports of egregious manifestations of racial discrimination towards the Rohingya people in Rakine State have been described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and others as ethnic cleansing. The human rights violations which are being committed against the Rohingya people have to be condemned by all who support human rights and reject racism,” she said.

“I take this opportunity to publicly call on Myanmar to urgently ratify and implement the provisions of the Convention so that the framework it offers can be available to the State.”

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will devote half a day of discussion on “Racial Discrimination in today's world: Racial profiling, ethnic cleansing and current global issues and challenges” on 29 November 2017 in Geneva.


For media requests please contact: Ravina Shamdasani (+1-917-367-2227 / ravina.shamdasani@un.org) or Nenad Vasic (+1-212-96-35998 / vasic@un.org)


CERD early warning and urgent action decision 21 August 2017 can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CERD/Pages/EarlyWarningProcedure.aspx

Members of CERD are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. More information on the Committee can be found here.

* CERD's General Recommendation No. 32 can be found here: www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/GC32.doc