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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Opens One Hundred and Seventh Session in Geneva

08 August 2022

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its one hundred and seventh session in Geneva, during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Benin, Nicaragua, United States of America, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Zimbabwe and Suriname. The Committee heard from the Representative of the Secretary General and adopted the session’s agenda.

Wan-Hea Lee, Chief of the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Human Rights Treaties Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Representative of the Secretary-General, congratulated the Committee on its work fighting racial discrimination, and said it was positive that in-person sessions were continuing in better conditions, including in hybrid format. The Committee’s flexibility and engagement had led to the agreement of all treaty bodies to establish a predictable schedule of country reviews, with an eight-year cycle for full reviews and follow-up reviews in-between. This agreement expanded initiatives that were originally launched by the Committee, including the simplified reporting procedure, which sought to address the challenges of chronic under-reporting by States parties and long delays in the submission of reports.

Ms. Lee said that despite notable improvements, the COVID-19 pandemic was still affecting populations across the globe, with consequences for access to economic, social, and cultural rights. The right to education was a perfect example of the impact the pandemic had on human rights and the challenges it created for vulnerable learners. There had been little progress in access to vaccines by and within developing countries. The statement adopted at the Committee’s one hundred and sixth session invited States to ensure effective and non-discriminatory access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Committee’s initiative to elaborate a General Recommendation on racial discrimination and the right to health would also contribute to improving understanding of human rights standards, including during pandemics.

Ms. Lee said that the situation of migrants at international borders remained an important concern across the globe, which the Committee had been addressing. She referenced the recent report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, in which concerns were raised about the human rights implications of measures taken by States to regulate border and immigration governance, including pushbacks, restrictions of asylum procedures and criminalization of irregular immigration. At its 30th public session, the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent had extensively explored the human rights situation of children of African descent, and the racial discrimination and inequalities they faced in all areas of life. Ms. Lee concluded by extending the best wishes of the Secretary-General and wished the Committee a successful and productive one hundred and seventh session.

Verene Albertha Shepherd, Committee Chairperson, then adopted the Committee’s agenda for the session.

Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s one hundred and seventh session and other documents related to the session can be found here.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 9 August, at 3 p.m. to consider the combined initial and second to ninth periodic reports of Benin (CERD/C/BEN/1-9).