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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination opens one hundredth session

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

25 November 2019

Committee to Review the Reports of Cambodia, Colombia, Ireland, Israel and Uzbekistan

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its one hundredth session at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, hearing a statement from Simon Walker, Chief of the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Section at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, in his opening remarks, said that the Committee's one hundredth session was a landmark and an excellent opportunity to take stock of everything that had happened through the adopted concluding observations. Those had laid the groundwork so that the aims of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination could be realized in a world turned on its head by phenomena that all thought had been eradicated.

In the course of this session, the Committee would measure up to the challenges of the current world and of the twenty-first century, the Chair stressed.

In his statement, Mr. Walker said that the Committee's work in combatting the scourge of racial discrimination was as important now as it had ever been. Updating the Committee, he noted that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was still facing various challenges in its efforts to ensure an efficient and effective treaty body system.

One of those challenges was the current funding crisis confronting the United Nations system, which made the funding of the Committee's sessions in 2020 and beyond uncertain. Such a situation underscored the importance of seizing the opportunity of the 2020 review to bring stability and adequate resourcing to the treaty body system, stressed Mr. Walker.

Over the last month, the Office had organized three side events on the margins of the General Assembly's seventy-fourth session, to increase awareness about the work of the treaty bodies and the 2020 review.

One such event was "Perspectives on the 2020 Treaty Bodies review", during which the vision of treaty bodies' Chairs on this review had been presented. At the "2020 and beyond: vision by the treaty body system" event, the Chairs had explained the current challenges facing the system. The third event aimed to increase awareness about the 2020 review and the way ahead among French-speaking delegations in New York.

In spite of the challenges facing the treaty body system, the efforts to combat racial discrimination continued to bear some fruit, Mr. Walker noted with satisfaction. The Office continued to promote non-discrimination as one of its six programmatic pillars as a way to increase the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and improve reporting by States parties.

The Office had trained government officials in Belize, Argentina, Egypt, Barbados, Thailand, Niger, Senegal and Benin on the submission of periodic reports. Training sessions would continue in 2020. It had also supported Angola in the ratification of the Convention, which had taken place on 2 October 2019 and had brought the number of States parties to 182.

In closing, Mr. Walker paid tribute to the outgoing members of the Committee and thanked them for their significant contributions to the Committee's work and the global efforts to combat racial discrimination. The outgoing members are Fatoumata Dah of Burkina Faso, Gay Mc Dougall of the United States, Maria Teresa Verdugo Moreno of Spain, Alexei Avtonomov of Russia, Pastor Murillo Martinez of Colombia, and Francisco Cali Tzay of Guatemala.

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

The Committee's one hundredth session will be held from 25 November to 13 December 2019, during which it will consider the reports of Cambodia, Colombia, Ireland, Israel and Uzbekistan. The report of Chile, which was also scheduled for this session, was postponed. 

The reports of the States parties, the agenda and programme of work, and other relevant documentation can be found on the session's webpage. All public meetings of the Human Rights Committee are webcast live at http://webtv.un.org/ while the meeting summaries in English and French can be accessed at the United Nations Office at Geneva News and Media page

The Committee will meet in private today and tomorrow with United Nations entities, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations in relation to the situation in the countries under review.

The next public meeting will be held at 3 p.m.  on Wednesday, 27 November, during which the combined seventeenth to nineteenth periodic report of Colombia will be reviewed (CERD/C/COL/17-19).

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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