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23 April 2019

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its ninety-eighth session during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Andorra, Guatemala, Hungary, Lithuania and Zambia. The Committee heard an address by Maja Andrijasevic-Boko, Chief a.i. of the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Section of the Human Rights Treaties Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and it adopted the session’s programme of work and revised agenda.

In her opening statement, Ms. Andrijasevic-Boko reminded that the International Day against Racial Discrimination had been celebrated one month ago both at the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly under the theme “Mitigating and Countering the Rising Nationalist Populism and Extreme Supremacist Ideologies”. This had been another opportunity to alert to the seriousness of the situation.  In that context, the High Commissioner for Human Rights had stressed that the Convention encourages firm legislation to prevent the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or racial hatred and called upon States to openly condemn their dissemination, as they incited to discrimination.

Turning to the 2020 review of the treaty body system, Ms. Andrijasevic-Boko encouraged the Committee to pursue its discussion and elaborate a common position. The meeting of the Chairs of the treaty bodies that would take place in New York would be the last formal opportunity for inclusive discussions before the review of the treaty body system, which was scheduled to take place by April 2020. In that regard, the Secretariat of the meeting of the Chairs stood ready to support the Committee, and a dedicated extranet page had been created.  Several stakeholders were keen to consult with Committee members to exchange views.  The General Assembly, in its resolution 73/162 adopted in December last year, requested the Secretary-General to submit the next biennial report on the status of the treaty body system in January 2020, ahead of the review, Ms. Andrijasevic-Boko reminded. The Secretary-General therefore needed to finalize the report by September, with input from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and would be developing its contours by the end of June.  The Office had shared a note verbale requesting input from States and other stakeholders on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 62/268 and the 2020 review, the deadline for which had been extended to 30 April 2019.
The Secretary-General’s report would highlight some of the lessons learned from the implementation of resolution 68/268, as well as address some of the procedures and activities that had not been adequately funded, or for which resources had been underestimated or absent from the formula. This included resources for the timely treatment of individual complaints and inter-State communications, amongst others.  She expressed hope that this process’s outcome would allow the system to function properly and make a difference where it mattered most, namely at the national level, for rights holders. At the same time, the Office was mindful that they were operating in a challenging environment that required creativity and resourcefulness to overcome obstacles.  She noted that the Committee had initiated a review of its methods of work to implement the recommendations of General Assembly resolution 68/268 and those of the Meeting of Chairs.  She encouraged Committee members to continue and to take into consideration the harmonization of the system as a whole as well as the specificity of each treaty body.

Ms. Andrijasevic-Boko recalled that protecting persons and groups of persons from racial discrimination was one of the six pillars of the Office’s organizational management plan. Efforts were made across various divisions to achieve concrete results, such as capacity-building activities to help States comply with their reporting obligations to the Committee.  This had contributed to the submission of reports by Niger and Senegal in March 2019. Benin and Fiji had also benefited from these activities and would hopefully report to the Committee in the near future.  The Office was also conducting capacity-building activities in Angola.  Concerning States parties to the Convention, she pointed out that on 11 March 2019, the Marshall Islands had acceded to the Convention, bringing the total number of States parties to 179.

The Committee had a tradition of partnering with bodies whose mandates were related to racial discrimination, Ms. Andrijasevic-Boko added. The Committee’s scheduled meeting with the Group of Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was yet another example of good practices. Further, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples appreciated the Committee’s collaboration under its new country engagement mandate.  It also welcomed the Committee’s developing practice of proposing to relevant States to consider the assistance of the Expert Mechanism in implementing the rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked Ms. Andrijasevic-Boko for all the work she had done for the Committee, and providing it with an update on the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights while reminding them of where the human rights struggle lay.

The Committee then adopted the session’s programme of work and revised agenda.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 24 April, at 10 a.m. when it will hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations concerning the situation in Andorra and Guatemala, whose reports will be considered by the Committee this week.

For use of the information media; not an official record


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