UN human rights system key to implementation of anti-racism conference outcome

The United Nations human rights system plays an important role in combating racism and ensuring effective implementation of the final outcome document of the anti-racism Durban Review Conference.

Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Special Procedures Asma Jahangir (right) addresses the Durban Review Conference © UN Photo/Jean-Marc FERREIndependent experts of UN human rights treaty bodies, special procedures under the UN Human Rights Council, and follow-up mechanisms established by the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) on 23 April voiced their unequivocal support to effectively implement the final outcome of the Review Conference.

“The framework set up by the DDPA has affected in a lasting and positive way the work of international human rights mechanisms,” Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance told the Review Conference.

“It has provided us with a robust blueprint for carrying out our work.”

However, the DDPA was not fully implemented, he said, and “racism is well alive all around the world.”

Welcoming the adoption the Conference’s outcome document, Muigai said “a renewed international engagement against racism is as urgent as it has ever been. As we face a multitude of crises that will dearly affect our standards of living, the risks of renewed racism and xenophobia are too evident for us to ignore.”

The Review Conference’s final outcome document, adopted by consensus on 21 April, has identified a number of “concrete measures and initiatives at all levels” to combat and eliminate all forms of racism.

It “invites the Human Rights Council, its special procedures and mechanisms, as well as relevant treaty bodies” to take into account the DDPA in their work and urges all governments to “cooperate fully” with the UN human rights mechanisms in the fight against racism.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which provides secretariat and substantive support to the UN human rights mechanisms, is also requested to continue its support to this end.

The outcome document further calls on governments to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and other instruments adopted after the 2001 anti-racism conference, such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Chairperson of the UN Committee that monitors the implementation of ICERD, Fatimata-Binta Dah, told the Review Conference that her Committee would continue to cooperate with the DDPA follow-up mechanisms and encourage governments to implement national plan of actions against racial discrimination.

Also addressing the Conference on Thursday were representatives of other UN human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and independent experts on the rights of migrants, minority issues, freedom of expression, contemporary forms slavery, and freedom of religion or belief.

The fourth day of the Review Conference heard statements from representatives of governments, United Nations agencies, national human rights institutions, UN human rights treaty bodies and independent experts, and non-governmental organizations.

The Review Conference, which runs from 20 to 24 April, assesses progress made since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa.

April 2009