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COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH THE WORKING GROUP OF EXPERTS ON PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT
Holds general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance
24 September 2013

The Human Rights Council at midday held an interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, including on its missions to Panama and the United Kingdom.  The Council also held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.

Mirjana Najcevska, of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in presenting the report said that it was essential to recognize people of African descent as a distinct group in order to increasing their visibility and enable them to realize their human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Millions of persons of African descent still suffered disproportionately from unequal access to quality education and other serious problems. Ms. Najcevska also spoke about the Working Group’s missions to Panama and the United Kingdom.

Panama and the United Kingdom spoke as concerned countries. 

The International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and the Protection of Human Rights also took the floor on behalf of three British Human Rights Commissions.

During the interactive dialogue, delegations said that education was an indispensable tool that could help humanity to move towards societies free from poverty, exclusion, discrimination, oppression, injustice and war.  The access to primary education for children of African descent had improved but regrettably discrimination in secondary and higher education still persisted.  All victims of racism deserved the same attention, regardless of their descent or other status, it was emphasized.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were European Union, Morocco, Brazil (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Venezuela, Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Togo, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka.

The following non-governmental organizations spoke: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme.

The Council also held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, during which speakers welcomed the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action but expressed concerns about remaining challenges to its implementation.  Speakers referred to situations of concern and called on States, the international community and other stakeholders to continue to take action in order to address the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.

Speaking in the general debate were: Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, Lithuania on behalf of European Union, Kyrgyzstan speaking on behalf of a Group of States, South Africa speaking on behalf of the African Group, United States, Kuwait, Ecuador, Egypt, Norway, Tunisia, Russian Federation, China, Iran, Cuba, and Nigeria.

The Council of Europe also took the floor.

The following civil society organizations also participated in the debate: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Pasumai Thaayagam, World Barua Organization, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, United Nations Watch, International Muslim Women’s Union, Family Planning Association, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, World Muslim Congress, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Fraternite Notre Dame, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran, Prevention Association of Social Harms, Indian Council of South America, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment, Under The Same Sun Fund, Africa Culture Internationale, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale (OCAPROCE), and Agence International pour le Développement.

The Council is holding a full day of meetings.  This afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Council will hold a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its twelfth session (A/HRC/24/52); an addendum to the report of the Working Group concerning its mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (A/HRC/24/52/Add.1); an addendum to the report of the Working Group concerning its mission to Panama (A/HRC/24/52/Add.2); an addendum to the report of the Working Group concerning the Comments by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the report of the Working Group (A/HRC/24/52/Add.3); and an addendum to the report of the Working Group concerning the comments by Panama on the report of the Working Group (A/HRC/24/52/Add.4).

The Council has before it a note by the Secretariat concerning the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards on its fifth session (A/HRC/24/53).

Presentation by Working Group on People of African Descent

MIRJANA NAJCHEVSKA, Member of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, said that recognition of people of African descent as a distinct group was essential to increasing their visibility and enabling them to realize their human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Recognition should start with access to education.  Millions of persons of African descent still suffered disproportionately from unequal access to quality education.  Data collection was a key enabling factor to overcome the historical “social invisibility” of persons of African descent, so States should facilitate data collection on ethnic, racial or national origins.  Racial profiling and being blamed for housing and employment shortages were other serious problems facing persons of African descent, particularly migrants. 

Issues discussed by the Working Group during its twelfth session included the adoption of the Working Group’s methods of work and the mandate of the Working Group given by the Council.  Regarding the visit of the Working Group to the United Kingdom in October 2012, Ms. Najchevska said that the country had an impressive legislative framework and had invested considerable resources in anti-discrimination initiatives.  Nevertheless, persons of African descent believed that the Government had not fully implemented the existing policies, and failed to respond to their problems.  Concerns were also raised regarding policing, racial profiling, bias and allegations of excessive use of force against persons of African descent, particularly young men. 

Concerning the Working Group’s visit to Panama in January 2013, Ms. Najchevska said that the country denied the existence of racism in its society, even though it was facing challenges related to its multicultural profile.  Panama had adopted various laws, but persons of African descent continued to have difficulty obtaining access to justice because of institutional discrimination.  In addition, persons of African descent and indigenous peoples did not share in the current economic growth and progress of Panama.  There was still a long way to go before persons of African descent everywhere around the world could realize their human rights.  The proposal for the International Decade for People of African Descent was a timely and important one.        

Statements by Concerned Countries

Panama, speaking as a concerned country, said that it was grateful for the visit of the Working Group last January and took note of the report.  The issue of people of African descent was one of the most important issues on the national agenda and due attention would continue to be given to it.  The Government recognized that all human rights were universal, indivisible and interdependent.  The population was a mixture of races with a significant percentage of persons from outside the continent.  Panama was one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world.  Panamanian legislation guaranteed equality of access to education.  Panama had made strides forward in putting children of African descent into school.  Intolerance in Panamanian schools regarding African descent was unacceptable. 

In 2005 Panama had adopted Act N.11 prohibiting discrimination in the work force.  The report of the Working Group tackled the situation of the penitentiary establishments visited in Panama and it was highlighted that the situation in these centres was considered unacceptable.  In the next few months Panama would be making a new penitentiary centre with the capacity for 5,000 detainees, to be classified and separated according to crimes committed and which would avoid crowding.  The Academy for Penitentiary Training had also trained new staff.  Panama was going through a decisive time in its development process and had undergone an extremely deep transformation in a short period of time, but there were negative legacies in some areas.  Panama was looking at what was taking place in its society, including vulnerable groups.  Panama was a result of a unique ethnic mix and today these descendents were contributing to strengthening Panama’s society. 

United Kingdom, speaking as a concerned country, said the United Kingdom was a diverse and tolerant country with some 14 per cent of its population identifying as belonging to an ethnic minority.  It was worth noting that in the United Kingdom, “people of African descent” was not a category in which people from ethnic minorities tended to self identify with.  Members of Britain’s ethnic minority communities had made an enormous contribution to the United Kingdom’s social, economic and cultural life with many pursuing highly successful careers in business and public life.  The British Government was determined to give everyone the opportunity to prosper and to break down barriers to social mobility. 

The United Kingdom’s approach to tackling the challenges posed by racial inequality and discrimination was not based on singling out individual ethnic groups, but instead on promoting social and economic integration with support from equality and social mobility strategies.  The integration was the process by which millions of individuals came together around common values, aspirations and interests.  It was these shared legal and social norms, such as respect and equality, which provided the foundation for society.  The British Government’s response to the Working Group report set out some of the ways it was addressing inequality and improving social mobility in areas like education, employment, health and the criminal justice system.  Some of the issues raised in the report were similar to ones raised by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in their 2011 concluding observations on the report of the United Kingdom and it looked forward to continuing its dialogue with the Committee on these and other issues in the coming years.

Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on People of African Descent


International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights said that the three national human rights institutions in the United Kingdom were accredited with A status by the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.  The International Coordinating Committee recommended that the United Kingdom and all those involved in the implementation of welfare reform monitor and mitigate the equality and human rights impact of measures taken to ensure that their cumulative impact did not breach human rights.  The national human rights institutions had noted the Working Group’s concerns about the educational experience for black African pupils, who were less likely to have good attainment levels and were more likely to be excluded than their white peers. 

European Union said that it had fundamental concerns about the work of the Working Group and pointed out that all victims of racism deserved the same attention, regardless of their descent or other status.  Also, it objected to the Working Group’s general approach to collective rights and its attempt to impose a classification with which many persons did not identify, and it rejected cultural relativism in the enjoyment of human rights, which undermined the universal nature of human rights.

Morocco said that access of children of African descent to primary education had improved but that regrettably discrimination in secondary and higher education still persisted.  The importance of ensuring quality education to establish culturally open education systems to highlight the cultural values of persons of African descent was highlighted.  The fight against racism and the promotion of egalitarian societies with no room for exclusion was of concern for all, not only persons affected by discrimination.

Brazil, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the Member States were composed of multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual societies, with a large and significant population of African descent.  The Durban Declaration inspired the widespread adoption of legislation, national plans and programmes for affirmative action in the region.  Nevertheless, despite progress made, there were still challenges to guarantee the full inclusion of persons of African descent in conditions of equality.

Venezuela said that it followed the global trend to recognize the rights of persons of African descent in forming their identity in Venezuela and within its social institutions.  The National Population and Housing Census of 2011 included the variable required for obtaining information on people of African descent in the population to develop public policies to benefit this vulnerable group.  Venezuela supported the establishment of a special mechanism that would reopen the debate on reparations because of slavery and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.   

Colombia said that a prosperous and peaceful society must be inclusive of all its citizens.  The visibility of people of African descent, their empowerment and recognition as an integral part of society were essential elements to promote and protect the rights of people of African descent.  Colombia defined itself as a multicultural and pluri-ethnic country.  An appropriate legal framework protected the rights of all people regardless of their race.  Since 2004, the ethnic variable was included in the national census.  

Nigeria endorsed the call of the Working Group for the General Assembly to launch the International Decade for People of African Decent in 2013 and adopt a programme of action for the Decade under the theme “recognition, justice, development”.  The Decade would present the opportunity to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Durban Declaration.

South Africa said education was an indispensable tool that could help humanity to move towards societies free from poverty, exclusion, discrimination, oppression, injustice and war.  States that had in their jurisdiction people of African descent had the duty to ensure equal access to education to them.  States should exercise their responsibility to eliminate discrimination faced by people of African descent.

Algeria said that the work of the Working Group was very important because people of African descent needed to be able to exercise their rights.  States should work with more vigour and greater commitment to human rights in order to combat injustices against people of African descent.  They should also take measures to guarantee the rights of people of African descent and ensure that they were no longer subject to discrimination because of their descent.  

Togo commended the Working Group on the high quality of its report and reaffirmed its full support for the proposal concerning the International Decade for People of African Descent.  Togo supported the creation of a permanent United Nations body which would deal with issues concerning persons of African Descent.    

Sierra Leone said that despite an improvement in access to primary-level education among children of African descent living outside Africa, discrimination at secondary and tertiary levels still prevailed in several countries.  Unless steps were taken to redress these problems, divisions between communities would grow and discrimination would continue, frustrating efforts to ensure the realization of human rights for all. 

Sri Lanka said it had a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious social fabric contributing to a rich and diverse identity.  The rights of all were enshrined in its Constitution.  Sri Lanka was also home to a small community of people with African descent and the Government had launched initiatives to preserve their cultural identity.  Sri Lanka recognised the need to address at the global level contemporary manifestations of racial discrimination such as xenophobia and related intolerance.  

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said it recognised the efforts of the Working Group to advance the understanding of the concept of “Afrophobia” relating as it did to a special and unique form of discrimination.  Much concern was expressed at the low level of participation by non-governmental organizations and people of African descent at recent sessions of the Working Group.  More effort should be paid to increasing this, particularly through budgetary means.

Recontre Africaine pour la Défence des droits de l’Homme reaffirmed its support for the Working Group.  Eleven years after its establishment, a great deal of work had been undertaken.  It was vital to carry out support for the Working Group.  Slavery and colonialization had structurally slowed the development of and heightened discrimination against people of African descent.  How did the Working Group propose to address this in its work?

Concluding Remarks

MIRJANA NAJCEVSKA, Member of the Working Group on People of African Descent, thanked all speakers for their support and hoped that the conclusions and recommendations of the Working Group’s report would be useful for the elaboration of policies by States in this regard.  One could not deny the past of people of African descent and the stereotypes that they faced, namely “Afrophobia”.  Specific groups were recognized by the international community, such as women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people or Roma people.  She wondered about the danger of recognizing the people of African descent as a specific group as mentioned by some delegations.  The recognition of people of African descent was linked to the specific discrimination they faced.  This also was the reason for the recognition of collective rights for people of African descent.  The General Assembly recognized that the Working Group should elaborate the draft programme for the Decade.  The Working Group worked on this question with its more than 10 years of experience and interactions with various stakeholders at the national and international levels.  The issues of justice and recognition were essential.  The Decade was suggested to help to resolve the problems at the national level.  The international approach had to be implemented at the ground level. 

Documentation

The Council has before it a note by the Secretariat concerning the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards on its fifth session (A/HRC/24/53).

General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, said that xenophobia, intolerance, racism and discrimination on the basis of religious belief needed to be combated by strong international instruments and effective domestic legislation.  Regrettably, commitments made by States had not translated into concrete action on the ground, and Muslims in many parts of the world were victims of acts of racism and discrimination carried out by persons who did not believe in peaceful cooperation. 

Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that it was concerned about increasing worldwide attempts to burn the Koran, with the persons behind such acts of religious discrimination enjoying impunity.  Islamophobia was a worrying global phenomenon, and States needed to adopt local deterrent laws to tackle it.  Islam was a religion of love and tolerance and should not be judged on the basis of the actions of certain extremist groups.  The international community needed to cultivate a culture of openness and acceptance of “the other”.

Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the opportunity to draw attention to the problem of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance.  Efforts needed to be stepped up to ensure the elimination of such practices, which remained a global challenge requiring a multilateral and multi-stakeholder approach.  The European Union, which was constructively engaged in efforts to fight such phenomena at the regional and international level, remained concerned about the scope and nature of the Decade on People of African Descent as set out in its programme of action.  

Kyrgyzstan, speaking on behalf of a Group of States, said genocide throughout history had been caused by racism and xenophobia.  After the overthrow of Nazism it was hoped those sentiments would be a thing of the past but that was not so.  Xenophobia, racism and even Nazism itself were again being used by political elites.  That was ignored by many, but neo-Nazi movements must be addressed if the mistakes of the past, including genocide, were to be avoided in the future.

South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the greatest achievement of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was the Durban conference but that more needed to be done by the international community in terms of its instruments to address racism.  The African Group would like to reaffirm its commitment to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and other instruments, and called for full financial backing for it from the international community. 

United States said that ever since Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech of 50 years ago, it had done much to outlaw and combat racism within its own borders.  While its reservations about the Durban process were well-known, especially in relation to Israel, the United States was fully committed to ending racial discrimination everywhere and engaged with international partners to share expertise.

Kuwait welcomed the efforts made by human rights mechanisms to combat racism, racist discrimination and related intolerance, in particular violence and discrimination on the basis of religious differences.  Kuwait deplored all forms or racism and related intolerance and was concerned about the incitement to religious hatred, particularly against Muslims.  Kuwait urged countries to work towards greater awareness, tolerance and respect for diversity and said measures should be taken to address incitement to violence.   

Ecuador reaffirmed its commitment to protect the rights of people of African descent, which included implementation of a pluri-national plan from 2009 to 12, in cooperation with civil society.  That exercise was making it possible to assess achievements regarding the situation of historically excluded peoples.  An observatory to look into the situation had produced a number of gazettes and studies; training modules had also been developed for officers in the security forces and the judicial system.

Egypt stressed the importance of launching the Decade for People of African descent in 2013 and underscored the significance of the topics under discussion in the current report of the Working Group.  The decade was a timely and important endeavour.  The momentum had been gathering since the World Conference in Durban; and the decade would provide an opportunity to ensure the effective implementation of the crucial provisions laid out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.

Norway said its commitment to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was evident in its national action plan.  Discrimination against people who differed from the mainstream was unacceptable for any reason.  Norway had organised a conference to address the rise of right-wing extremism and related hate-speech.  The solution was not censorship, rather dialogue, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, all of which had proven to be more powerful than any other tool in the fight against racism.

Tunisia said it fully supported the work of the Working Group including its work on people of African descent.  Racism was still alive everywhere and, where it had risen in times of economic crisis, was often fuelled solely by the desire for votes, although racism was incompatible with democracy.  Actions stemming from the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action underlined the urgency of tackling racist election abuses.

Russia said the economic crisis favoured conditions for inter-ethnic tension and the political inflaming of xenophobia, and young people were sadly all the more vulnerable to that.  Education was key.  It was important to use education to combat the threat of xenophobic ideas, particularly teaching accurate reflections of history, and also to step-up tolerance awareness-raising programmes.

China said that, despite some progress made by the international community in the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, it was gravely concerned by existing serious cases.  China supported the launching of a decade for people of African descent and would continue to support the work of the Working Group. It hoped that the international community would adopt a zero tolerance approach against racism.

Iran said that alarming manifestations of racism and xenophobia continued, and events in the United States and European Union countries showed that additional reforms in some societies were needed.  Muslims were among the main victims of xenophobia and discrimination around the world; the problem would not be solved unless its roots were recognised.

Cuba said that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had not been fully implemented.  An example of continuing racial discrimination was the United States, where being black often meant a person was suspected of being a criminal, and where 313 extrajudicial executions were carried out by the police in 2012.  Cuba urged all States to demonstrate real determination to fight against the scourge of racism

Nigeria said the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action remained the best instrument available to tackle racism, and the mechanisms that resulted from it enjoyed the fullest support from Nigeria.  The fostering of close cooperation between non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions could benefit from the effort to bridge existing gaps between the relevant international instruments

Council of Europe said the Internet was overflowing with xenophobia and racism and its effects were felt both online and offline.  The phenomenon of young people using the Internet to spread hate speech encompassed many dangerous forms of prejudice and discrimination.  Education and tolerance programmes aimed at young people using the Internet were needed to encourage a full understanding of how racism and xenophobia posed a threat to democracy.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said it was difficult to understand why the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had received little attention from the High Commissioner and was absent or reduced in the future plans of the Human Rights Council.  The International Decade of People of African Descent could be a way to address that in the future.

International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists said incidents of hate speeches, incitement to genocide and racism had not been properly addressed.  The issue of neo-Nazism had been addressed by the Special Rapporteur at the last Council session, in June 2013, but his report did not specify countries or incidents.  In the intervening months incidents of neo-Nazism, racism, and xenophobia had continued to occur.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation said that genocide was taking place in Sri Lanka.  Recent reports from local human rights groups documented coercive population control against Tamil women intended to prevent them from having babies.  It was an outrage that at a time when basic health services were vitally needed by a vulnerable population, they were subverted for coercive population control.

World Barua Organization said cases of racial and religious discrimination were increasing.  Positive developments included the introduction of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, but the devastating discrimination suffered by Dalits and inferior Hindu castes continued in India.  The organization called for immediate measures to be taken to address that discrimination.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said it followed the fate of the Muslim minority in Myanmar with great concern.  Since 1970 they had suffered consistent violations of their rights and many had fled abroad where a few non-governmental organizations assisted with their welfare.  The international community should put pressure on Myanmar to end that situation.

United Nations Watch said that Mona Seif, a nominee for the 2013 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, was a supporter of violence and terrorism.  The award would be presented by High Commissioner Navi Pillay in Geneva next month: United Nations Watch urged her to look into the suitability of this year’s nominees.

Family Planning Association I.R. Iran said anti-Shia violence perpetrated by racist terror groups such as Al Qaeda was anti-Muslim and anti-Koranic.  Indifference on the part of the authorities in the face of that violence only made the situation worse.  Non-governmental and human rights organizations had to prevent the spread of those despicable acts by reporting them to the international community.

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said it was deeply concerned about the situation of human rights in China, especially the discrimination and the persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that the caste system in India was the main source of human rights violations.  The caste system existed not only in rural India but also in urban areas, and even the judiciary discriminated against Dalits.  The Human Rights Council was urged to intervene and provide guidance.

World Muslim Congress said that prejudice and xenophobia were rampant in India.  Besides the age-old caste-based discrimination, religious minorities in India and especially Muslims from Indian-occupied Kashmir faced discrimination in each and every sphere of life on mainland India, and even in their homeland. 

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that the roots of Islamophobia - a view based on groundless hatred of Islam and Muslims – existed prior to 9/11.  Concern was expressed about the rise of sectarian tensions in several locations, including against Christian and Shia minorities.  The historical marginalisation of the Shia had become an official policy in a number of places in the Middle East and required the attention of the Council.

Fraternite Notre Dame said that between 100 and 150 million Christians were persecuted in the world, making Christianity the most discriminated religion in the world.  Every five minutes a Christian died for his faith.  In France, public insults were permitted against Christians under the guise of secularism and the freedom of expression, which demonstrated the start of a major crisis in Europe.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik expressed serious concern about ongoing xenophobia in Iran, especially toward Afghan citizens, who were for the most part Muslims.  According to the High Commissioner for Refugees about three million Afghans lived in Iran but, although Afghan migrations had started in 1979 and the third generation was growing, many Afghans still did not receive a birth certificate and were denied citizenship.

Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran said Islamophobia was on the rise in some countries, but it wasn’t a “phobia” but just simple racism.  It was the direct ignorance of people and the actions of some politicians.  Unfortunately that propaganda coincided with the extremism of some Muslim sects.  The rise of Islamophobia threatened Muslim women and was harmful to that peaceful faith.

Preventive Association of Social Harms (PASH) said the recent events in Syria had not ended and the issuing of fatwas intensified human rights violations, especially those committed against women.  The Council must condemn the human rights violations in Syria and call for their de-politicization.

Indian Council of South America said that indigenous people were suffering the long-term effects of colonization.  Their right to self-determination was not upheld among certain United Nations bodies.  The notion that land was reserved for the white race, as seen in particular in Alaska and Hawaii, and as determined by United States courts, had not received the attention it deserved.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, speaking in a joint statement, said that the Durban Declaration set the principles of equality and non-discrimination as core human rights, transforming victims of discrimination into rights holders and States as duty-bearers.  Education was key to changing behaviour and promoting understanding and tolerance among all.

Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment said that hatred and fear of Islam had become a reality in the form of Islamophobia, a phenomenon that aimed to violate the rights of Muslims.  The Society believed that all of the monotheistic religions were entitled to equal opportunities for their introduction to the world.

Under The Same Sun Fund said that people with albinism were victims of grizzly attacks, often to obtain parts of their body.  Those attacks occurred because of distinct cultural beliefs that had existed for centuries that focused on the appearance of persons with albinism.  They should be recognized as vulnerable and requiring protection by the Council, who should remain seized of the matter.

Africa Culture Internationale said populations of African descent were suffering from a delay as compared to the rest of the world and their marginalisation was not going away.  The denigration of the black race had become engrained in the imagination of society, and some people continued to show contempt towards black people.  People of African descent continued to face exclusion and limited access to technological, scientific, and medical progress.

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale (OCAPROCE) said that racism and Islamophobia continued even today and the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all of their abhorrent and involving forms and manifestations was a matter of priority for the international community.  The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action offered a unique and historical opportunity for its elimination.  

Agence International pour le Développement said if unaddressed Xenophobia posed a serious challenge to democracy.  Religious minorities continued to confront the rhetoric of terror and violations around the world.  Europe had also experienced the targeting of minorities and misuse of freedom of expression by right-wing and extremist political parties.  Many spoke of a fear of Islam, but it was important to realize that their representation of Islam was imagined.  


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/121E