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About early warning and urgent procedures

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

In its regular agenda, the Committee discusses preventive measures which include:

  • Early warning measures, aimed at preventing existing situations escalating into conflicts; and
  • Urgent procedures, to respond to problems requiring immediate attention to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the Convention.

Read all the decisions, statements and letters issued as part of the Committee’s work in this area.

Early warning

Early warning measures aim to prevent existing problems from escalating into conflicts and can also include confidence-building measures to identify and support whatever strengthens and reinforces racial tolerance, particularly to prevent a resumption of conflict where it has previously occurred.

Criteria for early warning measures could, for example, include the following situations: the lack if an adequate legislative basis for defining and prohibiting all forms of racial discrimination, as provided for in the Convention; inadequate implementation of enforcement mechanisms, including the lack of recourse procedures; the presence of a pattern of escalating racial hatred and violence, or racist propaganda or appeals to racial intolerance by persons, groups or organisations, notably by elected or other officials; a significant pattern of racial discrimination evidenced in social and economic indicators, and significant flows of refugees or displaced persons resulting from a pattern of racial discrimination or encroachment on the lands of minority communities.

Urgent procedures

Urgent action procedures respond to problems requiring immediate attention to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the Convention. Criteria for initiating an urgent procedure could include, for example, the presence of a serious, massive or persistent pattern of racial discrimination; or a situation that is serious where there is a risk of further racial discrimination.

History of early warning and urgent measures

In 1993, the Committee adopted a working paper to guide it in dealing with possible measures to prevent, as well as to respond more effectively to, violations of the Convention (see A/48/18, Annex III). The working paper noted that both early warning measures and urgent procedures could be used to try to prevent serious violations of the Convention. At its 45th session in 1994, the Committee decided that preventive measures including early warning and urgent procedures, should become part of its regular agenda.

Decisions, statements or resolutions are adopted and further action is taken by the Committee under these procedures that have been used since 1993 in relation to more than 20 States parties. The Committee has, inter alia, conducted two field visits in connection with the procedure and has drawn the attention of the Secretary-General, the Security Council or other relevant bodies in relation to 6 States parties.

In its working paper adopted at the 63rd session, the Committee mentioned that it may decide to set up a working group to consider the status of implementation of its decisions and recommendations under the early-warning measures and urgent procedures and to make suggestions in this respect. The working group may also be charged with suggesting appropriate measures to reactivate these mechanisms, indicating the situations or cases to which these measures or procedures may be applied.

Guidelines on early warning and urgent action procedures

At its 71st session in August 2007 the Committee adopted revised guidelines on the early warning and urgent action procedure.(See A/62/18, Annex, Chapter III)