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NINETY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION OPENS IN GENEVA

Committee Hears Solemn Declaration from Five New Members and Elects New Bureau
23 April 2018

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its ninety-fifth session during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Mauritania and Sweden.  The Committee heard an address by Ibrahim Salama, Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, heard a solemn declaration from five new Committee members and elected its new Bureau, and adopted the session’s programme of work and revised agenda.

In his opening statement, Mr. Salama updated the Committee about important events related to its mandate, namely about the Commemorative Plenary Meeting of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 March 2018, and about the events held during the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council held in March 2018.  He reminded of the social media campaign of the Media Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, #Standup4HumanRights, and noted the publication of a booklet called Women and Girls of African Descent: Human Rights Achievements and Challenges, jointly with the United Nations Department of Public Information. 

In light of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Salama deplored the increasing vulnerability of human rights defenders and those who courageously contributed to the Committee’s work.  He expressed the outrage of the human rights community about the recent brutal assassination of human rights activist and Rio de Janeiro city counselor, Marielle Franco.  As for the decision of the General Assembly in December 2017 to reduce the resources for the travel of experts by 25 per cent, and for the travel of staff by 10 per cent, as well as to only authorize the creation of five instead of eleven posts requested by the Secretary-General, Mr. Salama informed that the Office was currently looking into ways to adjust outputs and workload to ensure the necessary support for the Committee’s activities.  Some activities might not be supported by the Secretariat to the extent that they had been previously, Mr. Salama explained. 

The Committee then proceeded to swear in the five new members of the Committee: Ms. Rita Izsák Ndiaye of Hungary, Ms. Chinsung Chung of Republic of Korea, Mr. Sidiki Diaby Bakari of Côte d’Ivoire, Ms. Keiko Ko of Japan, and Mr. Silvio José Albuquerque E. Silva of Brazil. 

The Committee elected a new Bureau with Mr. Noureddine Amir of Algeria as Chairperson, and Mr. Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez of Colombia, Ms. Gay McDougall of the United States, and Ms. Yanduan Li of China as Vice-Chairpersons, as well as Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye of Hungary as Rapporteur.


The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 24 April, at 10 a.m., to hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations. 


Opening Statement

IBRAHIM SALAMA, Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, opened the ninety-fifth session of the Committee and congratulated the five new members elected on 22 June 2017, as well as the re-elected members.  Mr. Salama reminded that on 20 March 2018 the United Nations General Assembly had held its Commemorative Plenary Meeting for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination during which High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had recalled that discrimination, intolerance, prejudice and scapegoating had not only led to disastrous splintering within societies, but had also frequently generated threats to regional peace and had led to conflict.  Mr. Salama reminded that the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council held in March 2018 had been rich in events of direct interest to the Committee.  States had held a debate on promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combatting discrimination with a panel of experts.  The session had also been marked by the celebration of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, during which Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore had echoed the Committee’s concern in relation to migrants of African descent being auctioned off as slaves.  Finally, the Council had paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s lifelong struggle for freedom, human rights and human dignity by adopting a resolution to convene a high-level inter-sessional discussion celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela, his life and legacy.  The event was due to take place on Friday, 27 April 2018.  On that day, in 1994, Mandela and millions of South Africans had cast their votes for the first time in a fully representative democratic election. 

Turning to the ongoing celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr. Salama reminded of the social media campaign of the Media Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, #Standup4HumanRights, which included, among other things, communication tools aimed at increasing awareness about racial discrimination and inviting the public to take a stand against racism worldwide.  The Office had also published a booklet called Women and Girls of African Descent: Human Rights Achievements and Challenges, jointly with the United Nations Department of Public Information.  The booklet, which was based on the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent to the General Assembly in 2017, contained an analysis of the findings of human rights mechanisms and illustrated the realities of discrimination against women and girls of African descent.  In light of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Salama deplored the increasing vulnerability of human rights defenders and those who courageously contributed to the Committee’s work.  He expressed the outrage of the human rights community about the recent brutal assassination of human rights activist and Rio de Janeiro city counselor, Marielle Franco. 

Reminding of the decision of the General Assembly in December 2017 to reduce the resources for the travel of experts by 25 per cent, to reduce resources for the travel of staff by 10 per cent, and to only authorize the creation of five instead of eleven posts requested by the Secretary-General, Mr. Salama informed that the Office was currently looking into ways to adjust outputs and workload to ensure the necessary support for the Committee’s activities.  Some activities might not be supported by the Secretariat to the extent that they had been previously.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would address that situation in the forthcoming second report that the Secretary-General would present to the General Assembly under resolution 68/268, Mr. Salama explained. 

Swearing in of New Members of the Committee and Election of its New Bureau

Mr. Salama then proceeded to the solemn declaration by the five new members of the Committee: Ms. Rita Izsák Ndiaye of Hungary, Ms. Chinsung Chung of Republic of Korea, Mr. Sidiki Diaby Bakari of Côte d’Ivoire, Ms. Keiko Ko of Japan, and Mr. Silvio José Albuquerque E. Silva of Brazil. 

The Committee elected Mr. Noureddine Amir of Algeria as Chairperson, and Mr. Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez of Colombia, Ms. Gay McDougall of the United States, and Ms. Yanduan Li of China as Vice-Chairpersons, as well as Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye of Hungary as Rapporteur.

Finally, the Committee adopted the programme of work and revised agenda of the session, under which the Committee will consider communications under articles 11 and 14 of the Convention.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CERD18.01E