Human Rights Council
20 March 2018
The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, after hearing the presentation of reports by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on its ninth session, and the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration on its fifteenth session.
Adam Abdelmoula, Chief of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanism Division of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented the High Commissioner’s report entitled “Combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief.” The report was based on information provided by 20 Member States on the measures taken to implement the action plan for the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Taonga Mushayavanhu, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe and Chairperson–Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, introducing the report of the Ad Hoc Committee, said that the Council in several resolutions had expressed concern at the lack of progress in the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. There remained a lack of political will to move forward on the part of the Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee had received a new and specific direction, and it should work on the topic of procedural gaps, national mechanisms, and education and awareness raising.
Yvette Stevens, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone and Chair–Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, introducing the report, said that the Working Group had reviewed the progress achieved in the implementation of the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent and needed to start working on a Declaration on the Human Rights of People of African Descent, so Member States had been urged to make inputs for the Declaration.
During the general debate, speakers noted that the resurgence of incidents of violent and racially motivated hatred in various parts of the world, alongside racial profiling, was cause for serious concern that must always seize the work of the Human Rights Council. They welcomed initiatives concerning people of African descent, as there was a need to overcome such unique cases of discrimination and historical inequalities. Speakers noted that in some societies discriminative practices persisted, particularly when it came to refugees and migrants. Those racist practices had an institutional nature in many countries that claimed they were civilized.
Speaking in the general debate were Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned movement, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Bahamas on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan, Brazil, Tunisia, Cuba, China, Ukraine, Venezuela, Iraq, Mexico, Egypt, United Kingdom, South Africa, Israel, Sierra Leone, Russian Federation, Libya, Bahrain, Greece, Iran, Botswana, Algeria, Turkey, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, Amuta for NGO Responsibility, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, Iraqi Development Organization, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Alsalam Foundation, World Jewish Congress, European Union of Public Relations, Canners International Permanent Committee, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, International Association for Democracy in Africa, United Schools International, Indian Council of South America, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, World Environment and Resources Council, Pan-African Union for Science and Technology, World Muslim Congress, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea, World Barua Organization, Association of World Citizens, Guinea Medical Mutual Association, Liberation, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Centre for Organisation Research and Education, Association pour l’integration et le Developpment Durable au Burundi, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, ABC Tamil Oil, Alliance Creative Community Project, Prahar, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, International Solidarity for Africa, IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association, Human Security Initiative Organization, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Tourner la page, Association Thendral, Tamil World, Le Pont, Association for the Victims of the world, L’Observatoire Mauritanien des droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Action of Human Movement, United Nations Watch, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, International-Lawyers.Org, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Conseil International de Soutien à des Procès Equitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, New Human Rigths Cameroon, Sikh Human Rights Group, European Union of Jewish Students, International Educational Development, Inc, Meezaan Centre for Human Rights, Auspice Stella, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Association for Protection of Women and Children’s Rights.
Latvia spoke in a right of reply.
The Council is holding a full day of meetings today from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This evening, it will hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under its technical assistance and capacity building agenda item.
The Council has before it the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (A/HRC/37/76).
The Council has before it the Report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (A/HRC/37/77).
The Council has before it the Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/37/44).
Presentation of Reports
ADAM ABDELMOULA, Chief of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented the High Commissioner’s report entitled “Combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief.” Mr. Abdelmoula reminded that the Council had requested the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated conclusions based on information provided by States on the efforts and measures taken to ensure the implementation of the action plan for the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The report was based on contributions from 20 Member States in reply to a note verbal issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report summarized those contributions, bearing in mind that some information received from some States on their implementation of the action plan had been reflected in previous reports on the same topic, most recently the report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly. Mr. Abdelmoula drew attention to multiple forms of discrimination affecting women and girls. It would be useful if submissions referred to multiple discrimination and the gender dimension of discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, in view of the steps undertaken by States to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief. States could also consider rationalizing reporting under the plan. As there were two annual reporting processes on the very same action plan, to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, States could streamline those parallel processes either in terms of content or focus, or by adjusting the reporting time frames.
TAONGA MUSHAYAVANHU, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe and Chairperson Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards, introducing the report of the ninth session of the Ad Hoc Committee, said the session had taken place from 24 April to 5 May 2017 and had been attended by representatives of Member States, Non-Member States represented by observers, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. At its first meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee once again had elected Mr. Mushayavanhu as its Chair-Rapporteur. While there was general acknowledgement in the Ad Hoc Committee that racially motivated crimes and xenophobic attacks were on the rise worldwide, the Committee continued to fall short on what needed to be done, in a practical manner, to combat this scourge. As was evident the Committee had yet to deliver on its mandate which was “to elaborate, as a matter of priority and necessity, complementary standards in the form of either a convention or additional protocol (s) to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, filling the existing gaps in the Convention and also providing new normative standards aimed at combatting all forms of contemporary racism, including incitement to racial and religious hatred.” Given the establishment of the mandate in 2007, this Ad Hoc Committee was over a decade late – a position that called for a change of approach.
It was in this vein, that the Human Rights Council in resolution 34/26 and the GA resolution 71/181 and again in resolution 72/157 had expressed concern at the lack of progress in the elaboration of complementary standards to the Convention to fill existing gaps through the development of new normative standards aimed at combatting all forms of contemporary and resurgent scourges o racism, and called upon the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee to ensure the commencement of the negations on the draft additional protocol to the Convention criminalizing acts of a racist and xenophobic nature. There remained a lack of political will to move forward on the part of the Ad Hoc Committee. Two bodies had given a new and specific direction to the Ad Hoc Committee and it had to follow that track. While criminalization would be an important response, Mr. Mushayavanhu advocated for a parallel approach that addressed the tenacious and multi-layered nature of racial discrimination and xenophobia today. In this regard, the work of the Ad Hoc Committee should work on the topic of procedural gaps, national mechanisms, and education and awareness raising, among others. He appealed to Member States to participate in the progamme of work for the upcoming tenth session of the Ad Hoc Committee scheduled to take place in December 2018. Racism and xenophobia were real. They were distinct and had to be addressed.
YVETTE STEVENS, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone and Chair–Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Aaction, said that during the fifteenth session of the Working Group, the participants had shared views on the state of racial discrimination worldwide and measures to enhance the effectiveness of the follow up mechanisms to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to ensure better synergies. The Working Group had reviewed the progress achieved in the implementation of the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent and discussed good practices to promote more inclusive societies, conduct training and awareness-raising activities for judiciary and law enforcement agencies, monitoring and investigation of hate speech and hate crime, and protection of migrants and refugees. Several recommendations had been adopted by the Working Group to address racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. Member States should contribute to the report of the Secretary-General on a global call for the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
One of the greatest achievements of the Working Group was the elaboration of the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Though several States and civil society had taken actions, concern over the lack of funding was expressed. At the time of the launching, great hope had been placed on the Trust Fund. However, thus far, only Russia had been contributing to the Fund. The Working Group also needed to elaborate on a Declaration on the Human Rights of People of African Descent, so Member States were urged to make inputs for the declaration.
General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance
Brazil, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, vehemently condemned all acts and manifestations of racial discrimination. Such actions were perpetuating the inequality of already marginalized groups. Brazil welcomed initiatives to dedicate extra attention to issues of people of African descent and urged all delegations to engage in the debate. There was a need to overcome historical inequalities affecting people of African descent.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said it believed in the equality of all peoples. The adoption of Human Rights Council resolutions on discrimination provided an action plan for States to combat instances of Islamophobia, discrimination, and violence all over the world. Religious hatred and intolerance ran counter to the promotion and protection of human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights must provide protections for those facing discriminatory acts.
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the importance of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Venezuela condemned and expressed profound concern over the resurgence of acts of discrimination and intolerance. Such acts amounted to grave violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Religious sectarian profiling was also an affront to humanity.
Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it would continue to provide leadership in the eradication of discrimination and racism. Togo called on the international community to come together in rejecting racism. Progress in combatting racism was unsatisfactory. Racism and racial profiling around the world remained of profound concern and escalated the need to properly implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, noted that in some societies discriminative practices persisted, particularly when it came to refugees and migrants. Those racist practices had an institutional nature in many countries that claimed they were civilized. In order to eliminate racism in all its forms, perpetrators had to be prosecuted, and a culture of tolerance had to be disseminated. The international community and the Human Rights Council should invest serious efforts to that end.
Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reminded that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action recognized that the promotion of the universal respect for and protection of all human rights were fundamental factors in the prevention and elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It underlined the important role of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as a tool to prevent existing situations escalating into conflicts.
Bahamas, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, remained deeply saddened that millions of people nowadays were victimized by contemporary manifestations of the multiple scourges related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It was further concerned about the intellectual legitimization of racism and xenophobia, particularly by the media and those entrusted with leadership roles, under the guise of patriotism.
Pakistan warned of the surge of contemporary manifestations of the multiple scourges related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Ethnic and religious minorities were physically targeted and migrants demonized. It was regrettable that ideological hatred was practiced in the garb of patriotism. Pakistan had actively participated in the Durban Conference and in global efforts to eliminate racial discrimination.
Brazil reiterated its commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and to the Programme of Activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. The unique nature of discrimination faced by people of African descent called for affirmative action initiatives and negotiations on a Declaration on the Rights of People of African Descent were urgent.
Tunisia said that hate crime, xenophobia and extremism posed an enormous challenge to the international community which required the redoubling of efforts at the regional and international levels. Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was necessary to ensure the elimination of all forms of discrimination, in particular towards vulnerable groups, including people of African descent.
Cuba noted that slavery and the transatlantic trade of Africans had to be recognized as crimes against humanity and exploitation of indigenous persons needed to be acknowledged and redress made. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had to be implemented and all States were invited to dedicate their utmost efforts.
China expressed thanks to the Working Group and the Ad Hoc Committee and applauded their efforts to eradicate racism and xenophobia. Concern was raised over neo-Nazi movements reemerging in some countries as well as incitement to hatred by some political figures. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action identified how to fight all of those phenomena so States were invited to implement the relevant measures.
Ukraine assured that Ukraine remained committed to the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. On the other hand, Russia continued to disregard its obligations in that sphere, including in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Occupation authorities in Crimea were pursuing a policy of “Russification” that inflicted collective punishment on other cultures. The Crimean Tatar ands ethnic Ukrainian populations were facing harassment.
Venezuela reiterated steadfast support for the mandates of the Chair-Rapporteurs and for promoting more inclusive societies. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was a solid basis for fighting racism and racial discrimination. There was a need for comprehensive legislation against discrimination and increased protection of migrants. Venezuela voiced concern over discrimination targeted at migrants. The Government would continue to work to claim the human rights of people of African descent.
Iraq stressed that persistent intolerance created an intersecting network of deprivation that weakened society. Poverty was one of the forms of discrimination threatening societies. As a result, Iraq was implementing policies to address poverty as a means to countering discrimination. Authorities were developing legislation on the protection of diversity based on the belief that pluralism was a source of strength.
Mexico said fighting discrimination was a cornerstone of the quest to consolidate democracy. Mexico was taking action at home and abroad to promote and protect human rights and guarantee the rights of all Mexicans. Recognizing that no country was free from racism was one of the greatest achievements of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. More than ever, there was a need to defend the international human rights system.
Egypt said that one of the most important achievements of the international community was the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. However, discrimination and hate on the grounds of religion, ethnicity, and anti-migrant sentiment persisted, especially in Europe. Egypt strongly condemned the use of anti-terrorism measures to justify racism and forcible return of migrants to their countries of origin.
United Kingdom stated that it was committed to creating a fair society in which all people, of whatever ethnic origin or background, were valued and able to participate fully and realize their own potential. The Prime Minister Theresa May had launched the country’s race disparity audit on the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, which highlighted different outcomes for people of different backgrounds in the United Kingdom.
South Africa noted that the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was not satisfactory due to the lack of political will. The resurgence of incidents of violent and racially motivated hatred in various parts of the world, alongside racial profiling, was cause for serious concern that must always seize the work of the Human Rights Council. Accordingly, South Africa called for the speedy implementation of the General Assembly resolution 72/157 of 19 December 2017.
Israel warned that anti-Semitism was on the rise, with constant attacks against Jews, and desecration of monuments, among other hideous acts. Following the passing of the Polish law in Parliament denouncing the role of accomplices of Polish people during the Second World War, Israel had responded that one could not change history and that the Holocaust could not be denied.
Sierra Leone said racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia had plagued the world for centuries and were root causes of vast human rights abuses, violent extremism, terrorism and conflict. It was time to translate the rhetoric into action. The Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration had, over the years, examined the topics of the Declaration and proposed concrete recommendations. Sierra Leone appealed to all to take appropriate action to implement these recommendations.
Russia said today the world was witnessing an eruption of xenophobia and troubling signs of aggressive nationalism. It was of serious concern that in many of the so-called developed democracies in Europe, displays of nationalism and xenophobia were becoming commonplace. Neo-Nazis and vandalism, and the defamation of monuments of victims contradicted the Nuremberg Trials. In Latvia a tribute had been made to someone who had led the mass extermination of Jews.
Libya reiterated that it supported all concrete measures with the view of eliminating racial discrimination. Libya took part in United Nations mechanisms charged with ending racial discrimination. It had also signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Bahrain had examined the report of the Inter-Governmental Working Group and agreed with its conclusions, recommendations and proposals for combatting terrorism. It agreed with the Working Group on the importance of adopting national plans of action to combat racism and provide training on human rights at all levels, with a view to bringing the scourges of racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance to an end. Negative stereotypes and xenophobia hindered the rights of minorities.
Greece said racism and intolerance were on the rise and posed serious threats to human rights. Several initiatives were being taken by Greece to strengthen legal frameworks to counter racial discrimination and xenophobia. Proper training of civil servants was the most effective solution to tackle deeply rooted racist and xenophobic misconceptions. To that end, Greece was implementing a human rights plan aimed at training public employees.
Iran was convinced that all forms of intolerance ran counter to the promotion and protection of human rights. Iran was fighting discrimination in both law and practice, at home and abroad. Tehran remained fully committed to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The fight for equality required political leaders to speak out against all forms of discrimination and hatred.
Botswana noted that while progress was being made to keep the issue of racism on the international agenda, practical progress was slow. Botswana urged relevant parties to collect information on different action plans being implemented by States and share successes of those States. Such efforts to share international best practices would result in more effective national action plans to combat discrimination.
Algeria said all forms of discrimination and related violent acts required particular attention from the international community. Combatting xenophobia should feed into a broader framework of prevention and outreach, including at the judicial level. There was a need to improve international human rights mechanisms to better combat incidents of racial discrimination and racism.
Turkey remained concerned about anti-immigrant sentiments which were on the rise globally, and more particularly in Europe. Migrants were victims of unequal treatment, prejudice, stigmatization, violent attacks, hate crimes and adverse public discourse. It was critically important that prominent personalities, especially politicians and media representatives, used uniting rhetoric, instead of divisive remarks and attitudes.
Bangladesh drew attention to the decades-old xenophobic treatment of the minority Muslim Rohingya population in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. The situation warranted immediate action. The business-as-usual reaction of the international community would only lead to continued denial of such heinous acts.
Malaysia noted that while promoting tolerance and respect for religious diversity was of utmost importance, combatting defamation of religion should be given similar attention. Defamation of religion was an act which unacceptably derogated the right to freedom of religion or belief, and it was inextricably linked to intolerance, xenophobia and incitement to racial and religious hatred.
Azerbaijan raised concern about the glorification of Nazism in the South Caucasus region, namely the construction of a statute of General Garegin Nzdeh, who had collaborated with the Nazis and put the Armenian legion of 30,000 soldiers at the disposal of the Nazi command on the Eastern Front. More worrisome was that the racist ideology of Nzdehism was included in high school programmes in Armenia.
Armenia drew attention to the policy of intolerance and hatred against Armenians openly promulgated by Azerbaijan on a daily basis. There was a conflict-ridden domestic political discourse and Azerbaijan’s leadership, education system and media were very prolific in their denigration of Armenians.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, were deeply concerned about the failure of the Human Rights Council to combat racism. They called for the thirty-seventh session of the Council to develop an outreach programme in support of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and reactivate the Trust Fund against Racism and the Independent Experts. If more efforts had been made to engage the public on the true content of the Declaration, many victims would have been spared.
Amuta for NGO Responsibility said the Durban Conference was one of the worst examples of anti-Semitism promoted by the United Nations.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Inc. said there was systematic discrimination of the Shiite majority in Bahrain, in the areas of housing and employment, as well as flagrant discrimination by law enforcement and security. The Shiites made up 70 per cent of the original inhabitants of Bahrain but only five per cent of the jobs went to them. Confessional publications published by the Government supported the Wahabist theory and dogma according to which Shiites could be persecuted.
Iraqi Development Organization said there were millions of displaced Yemeni people. There was discriminatory Saudi policy which meant that Yemenis would either have to leave or be subject to high taxation in Saudi Arabia. Yemenis had become slaves in Saudi Arabia and were discriminated against. The organization called upon the non-governmental organizations to undertake this issue.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said caste discrimination was a pernicious and deeply ingrained form of structural discrimination. Additionally, over 180,000 households in India were involved in the harmful practice of manual scavenging. While India had an extensive body of legislation, outlawing caste-based discrimination and the practice of scavenging was not prioritized due to a lack of political will.
Alsalam Foundation remained concerned over disrespect of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Saudi Arabia continued to discriminate against its Shia minority and executed Shia leaders who spoke out against the Government. The Declaration directed States to counter all forms of discrimination and Saudi Arabia must fulfill its obligations.
World Jewish Congress said it had intervened to stop a pro-Nazi march last year. Such action showed that anti-Semitism was rearing its ugly head. Clear signs of hatred must not be ignored. All States had the responsibility to combat anti-Semitism and hate. The World Jewish Congress urged the Human Rights Council to tackle all forms of discrimination.
European Union of Public Relations said globalization had made the world more complicated and the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action set a great precedent for human rights. There was a need to assess the implementation of the Declaration. Assessing progress and shortcomings would promote the universal ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Canners International Permanent Committee said that racial discrimination had always been a social phenomenon. Turning a blind eye to it would make things even worse in Pakistan. The report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had exposed various concerns, including lack of comprehensive definition on racial discrimination and narrow understanding of the competent authorities as well as continuous complaints of Punjab province.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said that Pakistan was a nation which had failed to evolve in maintaining religious harmony. Narrow views and conservative domestic policies did not provide space for desired liberal changes to society. The influence of extremist violence was prominent and worsening living conditions of women and children had been described in a Human Rights Watch report.
Centre for Environmental and Management Studies noted that according to the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, it was evident that domestic laws and policies in Pakistan were not enough for combatting existing discrimination. Balochistan remained a major source of concern. Pakistan had to strengthen its national human rights commission.
International Association for Democracy in Africa said that xenophobia had been deeply set in the cultural context of society, impeding economic and political progress. In Pakistan the case of Malala had shown the polarization of the society, as she had been portrayed as a girl who had not respected the boundaries of female as expected in patriarchal society.
United Schools International said the Durban Conference and the Declaration and Programme of Action had provided a significant framework for combatting racial discrimination, which had a direct impact on education, poverty, and development. The United Nations aimed to eradicate poverty and encompassed the obligation to eradicate all obstacles to education. The idea of equality as one of the core principles of human rights should be expressly stated in all national governments.
Indian Council of South America (CISA) said the United States denied the right to self-determination on grounds of racial discrimination, a crime against humanity. The Permanent Forum had completed a study on Doctrines of Discovery relevant to its cases. Indigenous peoples suffered globally from this scourge of racism. There were two cases that had been won against the United States in this regard. The Human Rights Council should request the transmission of these petitions and call for the appropriate bodies to address violations of the United Nations resolutions.
International Buddhist Relief Organization said since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam had been defeated in 2009, all Sri Lankans including Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burgers and other communities had joined hands in brotherhood, to rebuild a nation that was shattered by a three-decade-long internal conflict. Most citizens in Sri Lanka were not in agreement with the present government and requested the international community not to support sinister moves to force external solutions on the sovereign nation.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said racism was based on ideologies and was broader than discrimination. Nowadays, in order to counter this phenomenon and follow up the implementation of the Durban Declaration, different actions had been taken against racism.
World Environment and Resources Council said racial discrimination and xenophobia should not be present in modern societies. Racism was becoming more prevalent and helping spread radical ideologies. Populism, nationalism, and terrorism were interrelated and further exacerbated human rights issues. The organization urged the international community to do away with racism and discrimination.
Pan-African Union for Science and Technology said minorities in Pakistan were seeing their human rights violated. Xenophobia was resulting in the abuse of minority groups in the country. Afghan refugees were devoid of legal protections, making them particularly vulnerable to rights violations. Hostilities were also evident in Pakistan’s anti-India discourse.
World Muslim Congress said India was ignoring its constitutional commitments to protect minority groups. Threats and hate speech against religious minorities had escalated drastically over recent years. Killing in the name of “cow worship” was unacceptable and the Human Rights Council must denounce such acts of hatred.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, in a joint statement, pointed to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and called on States to uphold their international obligations in countering discrimination. The organization decried verbal attacks against certain State representatives at the United Nations and called on the United Nations Economic and Social Council to properly assess the activities of its partners.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolit warned that the majority of the countries that had voted against the renewal of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran belonged to the same religion. China, Nepal, Philippines, Kenya and South Africa were urged to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea noted that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had requested comprehensive elimination of racial discrimination. The Council had forgotten crimes against humanity carried out by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and had sided with this terrorist organization. War criminals who had killed thousands of civilians needed to be punished and the Council was asked to withdraw the resolution.
World Barua Organization noted that India had not submitted its report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination since 2006. India was home of the caste system, which was the outcome of particular religious beliefs. Under such a system of graded inequality, human rights violations were the norm. Schedule castes known as Dalits were the most affected.
Association of World Citizens noted that States were required under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to outlaw all forms of discrimination. Nevertheless, discrimination of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran was continuing and the recommendations of the Committee had yet to be implemented.
Guinea Medical Mutual Association noted that Sri Lanka was a Buddhist country that respected the rights of all people irrespective of their caste, race and religion. The national Constitution had made Sinhala and Tamil official languages, whereas minorities were represented in the national flag. The main business ventures in the country were owned by minorities.
Liberation warned that racial violence had increased in India, following the ascent to power by a political party with a fascist ideology. The act under the name Freedom of Religion criminalized conversion, especially from lower castes. Dalits who had converted to other religions were being targeted under that act.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee drew attention to the racial discrimination of the Sikhs in their historic homeland of Punjab in India, under the present administration of the fundamentalist and militant Hindus and Brahmins. The party in power had carried out the genocide of the Sikhs in June and November 1984. There was no law and order in Punjab. Several thousand Sikhs had been kept in prison without trials since the 1980s.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA reminded that India was home to racial discrimination as the caste system prevailed in the country. The affirmative action taken by the Indian Government was not sufficient at all. The Government was closing down many State schemes planned for the development of lower castes. The organization called on the Council to urge India to increase the budget for the scheduled caste and tribes.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was dismayed by the discrimination, particularly in the context of counter-terrorism measures. Counter-terrorism policies restricted the freedom of movement as did law enforcement institutions and border control. The organization urged States to implement the strategies of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de homme said it welcomed the debate on racism and invited all to stand up to promote tolerance, unity and respect for diversity. However, as the world remembered the millions of victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, they should also remember that people of African descent were currently the most discriminated against. Slavery was still being practiced. This called for the elaboration of new standards and norms that were more vigorous in the elimination of racial discrimination.
Centre for Organization Research and Education said though most countries had agreed to the Durban Declaration, it was sad that caste-based discrimination was still prevalent in India. Indigenous communities in India faced discrimination all over the country. In metro-cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, discrimination was rife and racism was rampant. It urged the Council to communicate with India to stop discriminating against its indigenous communities.
Association pour integration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi said traditional Assam communities were being seriously targeted. There was lack of infrastructure and their population growth was being hindered. They were not allowed permanent citizenship.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said that the Government of Sri Lanka, despite the promise to amend the counterterrorism bill, continued to marginalize ethnic Tamils through arbitrary arrests and detention. The discrimination toward Tamils was also demonstrated through lack of access to public services.
ABC Tamil Oil said that the draconian anti-terrorism law had served as a tool to the Government of Sri Lanka to commit large human rights violations. The investigation of the Office of the High Commissioner testified of the arbitrary arrests, detention and torture carried out on Tamils. The Sri Lankan Government had grabbed land of ethnic Tamils in the north east part of the country.
Alliance Creative Community Project stressed that the Sri Lankan Government continued to violate the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Tamils were victims of discrimination. Numerous Tamil civilians had been arrested and entire zones where Tamils lived were declared as security zones. The only way to achieve peace was to have a referendum and allow self-determination.
Prahar thanked the previous report of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues as in her report from 2016 she had elaborated on caste violence. Dalits were most affected by the caste system. Human rights defenders from the Dalit community were facing criminal charges. The Council was asked to urge India to consider the caste system under racial discrimination and take strong action against perpetrators of violence against Dalits.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France said that in Pakistan attacks on Hindus, Christians and Baloch persisted, and in India Dalits and minorities were under constant threat of Hindu fundamentalism. The organization also drew attention to Sri Lanka’s racial war against the Tamils by the majority Sinhalese.
International Solidarity for Africa noted that the Tamils in north and east Sri Lanka were racially discriminated against by the Sinhalese Buddhist minority. After 2009, the Government had constructed Buddhist instead of Hindu temples and there was deliberate exclusion of the Tamils from the army. The Council should take immediate steps to prevent racial discrimination against the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association stated that cultural diversity was the rule rather than the exception in most countries nowadays. While xenophobic violence was ongoing and refugee flows were bigger than ever, the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration by all Member States was an imperative.
Human Security Initiative Organization noted that the Human Rights Council had to prioritize racism because it was the most important factor that destroyed the social fabric of societies. International organizations in Sudan should increase their international cooperation. There was a need to disseminate the culture of tolerance.
United Towns Agency for North South Cooperation said young people suffered from economic discrimination which prevented them from being active in their countries’ economies. Various international organizations had deployed efforts to elaborate policies to fight against racism and had succeeded to stress the necessity to counter racist violence and hate crimes through education. It was vital to understand that phenomenon of racism. Civil society activism was crucial.
Tourner la Page said in May 2009 Sri Lankan military forces had carried out a genocide war against Tamils by killing more than 146,000 people in a short period of six months, between December 2008 and May 2009. Successive governments had continually violated human rights and the current government continued this trend. Eelam Tamils continued to suffer discrimination despite the defeat of the Tamil Tiger Resistance.
Association Thendral said there was credible evidence that sexual violence was systematically used against Tamils, both men and women, by the Sri Lankan Army towards the latter stages of the war, and it still continued. It was clear that Tamil women in the north and east of Sri Lanka were living under an occupation force that was misogynist. They were awash with violence, sexual harassment and exploitation and this had to stop. The world was watching and waiting.
Tamil World said ethnic and religious minorities continued to experience discrimination in Sri Lanka. It reminded that the Government had aimed to build a society where respect for all ethnic and religious minorities would thrive. However, incidents of discrimination had been on the rise since the Sri Lankan conflict. Economic hardship, violence against women and military occupation were rife.
Le Pont drew attention to the illegal presence of the Sri Lankan military in the north east of the country. The military presence was felt in daily life and interference in cultural events was a hindrance to the community. Development and trade activities were undertaken by the military, negatively affecting the region. The military was dominating the economic and social life of people in the region.
Association for the Victims of the world stressed that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka had resulted in countless human rights violations, including rape and enforced disappearances. Such violations continued to take place in clear violation of the country’s constitution. The Government was discriminating against the Tamil community. The Human Rights Council must call on the Government to allow the Tamil people to exercise their right to self-determination.
L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie noted that there had been an increase in hate speech by Buddhist monks against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka. Minority communities were being disrupted during times of prayer. Attacks were signs of the increasing nationalist sentiment among Buddhist monks and ethno-nationalist organizations.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment said racial discrimination was present in many States, including Sri Lanka. The Government must adequately deal with the vast human rights violations afflicting minority groups in the country. Enforced disappearances and torture against members of the Tamil community persisted.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) reminded that the Sri Lankan forces had ended a war in 2009 in which thousands of Tamils had died. Successive Governments of Sri Lanka had violated the rights of Tamils and subjected them to enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and confiscation of land. The organization called on the Sri Lankan Government to implement the Durban Declaration and to uphold its human rights obligations.
United Nations Watch noted that the Human Rights Council was obliged to practice non-discrimination, not just to talk about it. Was the Council living up to its principles? There was one resolution on Iran, one on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, five on Israel and zero resolutions on Turkey, China, Iraq, Venezuela, Algeria, Russia, Egypt and Zimbabwe.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) referred to Islamophobic acts and attacks against Islamic cultural centres in Europe. The organization had launched a series of cultural activities aware that it was necessary to avoid fear and mistrust of the unknown. It called for inclusive societies and welcomed the measures taken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to that end.
International-lawyers.org called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to clarify why the funds dedicated to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had been used elsewhere and why so little progress had been made to implement the Declaration. Its implementation was more urgent than ever, in light of resurgent racism.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that in Cameroon the Anglophones had taken to the streets to complain of marginalization and assimilation, calling for a return to a federal state. The response of the Government had been violent with the military shooting and killing civilians. Over 20,000 persons had escaped to Nigeria and many more were internally displaced.
Conseil International de Soutien à des Procès Equitables et aux Droits de l'Homme warned the Council about the situation in Gulf countries. In Bahrain, racial discrimination and crimes against humanity had been reaching unimaginable proportions against human rights defenders. Yemeni people had been suffering tragedy after tragedy and the United Nations had been powerless to do anything about it.
New Human Rigths Cameroon said that xenophobia against Balochi people was evident in Pakistan’s disproportionate response to the fundamental demands of Balochi people. Religious fanatical groups had been transplanted to change Balochi culture. Private militias carried out terror attacks and there had been numerous victims of enforced disappearances.
Sikh Human Rights Group said that racism was a pathology of European civilisations acquired during colonialism, but with implications for people around the world, most notably of African descent. European civilisation had to address this pathology, not only through legal measures but also through introspection on why it continued to have difficulty in coming to terms with the natural diversity of human society.
European Union of Jewish Students decried the resounding ease with which States throughout the world were allowing or even perpetuating anti-Semitic attacks. Combatting xenophobia required a clear definition of anti-Semitism. The Human Rights Council must adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in order to live up to its expectations.
International Educational Development said there were no agreed upon indicators or elements to define racist regimes in the context of additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions or generally in international law. Such indicators must include acts of violence against ethnically different groups, as had been occurring to the Hmong peoples in the Lao Democratic People’s Republic.
Meezaan Centre for Human Rights said Israel continued to violate the right to worship of its Muslim population. Muslims in Israel were being subjected to harassment and several Muslim sites had been sold by the Israeli Government for the construction of commercial buildings. The centre called on the Human Rights Council to protect the property of Muslims in Israel.
Auspice Stella said the Mapuche people were facing repressive actions from the Governments of Chile and Argentina. Law enforcement agencies in those countries were relying on torture in their interrogation practices and several leaders of the group had been wrongly accused of terrorism, with authorities planting evidence.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” stated that racism had taken a dramatic turn since the adoption of the Durban Declaration and the attacks of 11 September 2001. Despotism had condemned the human species and indigenous peoples, leaving them without soul and holdings. Neo-colonial leaders imposed on indigenous peoples their own vision of development.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) continued to call on the United States to promote the harmonization and compliance of domestic and international laws to address the socio-historically ingrained and disproportionate disparities for people of African descent in the Americas in Canada, the United States and the Western hemisphere. They still applied doctrines of superiority in law that resulted in institutional discrimination.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) stated that victims of racial discrimination suffered from inferiority and transferred that inferiority to the next generation, thus creating a vicious cycle. Racial discrimination against Dalits in India was common, especially against Dalit women, who suffered from deep structural discrimination. Crimes against them were committed without impunity. They lived in constant fear of being publicly humiliated.
Right of Reply
Latvia, speaking in a right of reply in response to the Russian Federation, said that the history of the occupation of Latvia, starting by the Soviet Union and followed by Nazi Germany, was well known to Russian diplomats. The occupying Nazi and Soviet regimes had forcibly drafted Latvian citizens into military service. Those avoiding conscription had been punished. Former soldiers who fought in the Second World War remembered their fallen comrades on different dates. The Latvian Government strongly condemned all totalitarian regimes and the Holocaust, and it mourned their victims.
1Joint statement on behalf of: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; African Development Association; Association Dunenyo; BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights; Comité International pour le Respect et l'Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples (CIRAC); Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l'homme; Espace Afrique International; Action on Aging; Indian Movement "Tupaj Amaru"; International Association Against Torture; International Association of Democratic Lawyers; International Educational Development; International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic & Other Minorities; International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Victorious Youths Movement.
For use of the information media; not an official record
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