Concludes General Debate on the Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
19 March 2019
The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, after hearing the presentation of reports on the subject. It also concluded its general debate on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
Introducing the High Commissioner’s report on “combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”, Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that it compiled, summarized and analysed the responses of States on their efforts to implement the Action Plan outlined in paragraphs 7 and 8 of resolution 37/38. Three potential follow-up measures for further improvement of the implementation of the Action Plan were proposed.
Refiloe Litjobo, Permanent Representative of Lesotho to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Chair-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, said the Working Group had discussed views on the state of racial discrimination worldwide, mechanisms to combat racism, xenophobia and discrimination, and methods to ensure better synergies between those mechanisms. It was no longer possible to merely conclude year after year that racism was increasing, it was vital to step up the implementation of the recommendations.
In the general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, speakers expressed their deep condolences and disturbance over the terrorist act in New Zealand, which unfortunately was one example of a series of successive racist incidents. Populist leadership in many countries were vilifying religious communities, demonizing migrants and physically assaulting ethnic minorities. Speakers said the Durban Declaration was a comprehensive action-oriented document with concrete proposals and measures to combat racism, and reaffirmed their commitment to its implementation as well as to the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference and the Programme of Activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Together, the international community had to tackle structural causes of racism and to highlight best practices in combatting racism in order to remedy all forms of xenophobia.
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Brazil on behalf of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, Angola on behalf of the African Group, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Romania on behalf of the European Union, Haiti on behalf of the Caribbean Community, Oman on behalf of Gulf Cooperation Council, Nicaragua on behalf of group of countries, Saudi Arabia on behalf of group of countries, Pakistan, India, Brazil, Cuba, Iraq, Tunisia, Qatar, Egypt, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Nigeria, Ukraine, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Libya, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Maldives, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Morocco, Algeria, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanon, Greece, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Colombia, Canada, Sudan, Armenia, Lesotho, Indonesia and Jordan.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Sikh Human Rights Group, African Green Foundation International, The International Organisation for LDCs, Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, Guinea Medical Mutual Association , The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, World Jewish Congress, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, International Buddhist Relief Organisation , United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea, Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights, Health and Environment Program (HEP), International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Association of World Citizens, Tourner la page, L'observatoire mauritanien des droits de l'homme et de la démocratie, Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule, Network of Women's Non-governmental Organizations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, Institute for NGO Research, World Environment and Resources Council (WERC), International Educational Development, Inc., Pan African Union for Science and Technology, European Union of Public Relations, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, International-Lawyers.Org, United Schools International, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Prahar, Refugee Council of Australia, Hamraah Foundation, Association Thendral, Godwin Osung International Foundation, Inc. (The African Project), Giving Life Nature Volunteer, Elizka Relief Foundation, Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social, United Nations Watch, Center for Environmental and Management Studies, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Canners International Permanent Committee, Union of Arab Jurists, Association for the Victims of the world, Action of Human Movement (AHM), World Muslim Congress, Ingénieurs du Monde, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training, Global Welfare Association, Liberation, World Barua Organization (WBO), Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Tamil Uzhagam, Le Pont, ABC Tamil Oli, Association culturelle des tamouls en France, International Solidarity for Africa, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID), Active Solidarity for Family Development (SADF), Servas International, Russian Peace Foundation, 28. Jun, and International Council of Russian Compatriots (ICRC).
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its general debate on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The first part of the debate, held on Monday, 18 March, can be read here.
In the general debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, speakers affirmed that the implementation of Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was a matter of priority for the international community and noted that the United Nations should be precise in its evaluation of this implementation. Some delegations noted that ending poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals agenda could only be achieved through justice and accountability and only if women were the equal partners of men. Several human rights situations across the world were discussed. Organizations pointed out that some countries needed reminding of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action’s requirements against discrimination.
The following civil society organizations took the floor: Canners International Permanent Committee, American Association of Jurists, Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights, Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Association of World Citizens, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, The International Organisation for LDCs, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), World Muslim Congress, Liberation, World Barua Organization (WBO), Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Le Pont, Association culturelle des tamouls en France, International Solidarity for Africa, Alliance Creative Community Project, Active Solidarity for Family Development (SADF), Association of Mali Youth for Agriculture ASJAM, African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID), and ABC Tamil Oli.
Speaking in right of reply were Latvia, Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Ecuador, China and Bangladesh.
The Human Rights Council will next hold an interactive dialogue based on the report of the High Commissioner on the developments of the human rights situation in the Kasai region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
General Debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Canners International Permanent Committee said Pakistan was depriving the rights of 50 per cent of its population from their rights and limiting their space within the four walls of their domestic space. Pakistan was an overly patriarchal and rigorously Islamic nation that limited its so-called second sex from attaining their full potential.
American Association of Jurists said that ethno-development promoted development through local knowledge. Indigenous peoples were campaigning to change the status of certain sacred plants which were currently classified as narcotic. It urged countries to continue a dialogue between Geneva and Vienna promoting this matter.
Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights said they were still campaigning for the repatriation of human remains back to the Ryukyu islands where skeletons had been stolen by scientists and kept at Kyoto and Taiwan universities. In 2018, the Committee had asked Japan to recognize the Ryuhyu people as an indigenous minority.
Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik said the peaceful transition from a fundamentalist State to a democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran was progressing slowly. Several human rights defenders and journalists were imprisoned under the charge of disseminating propaganda against the regime, insulting the supreme leader and other fabricated charges. The organization called for the Council to condemn such action.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association said implementing the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was a matter of priority for the international community. But India had violated its provisions in the region of Shipra, where indigenous women suffered rape, murder and imprisonment. The Association called for self-determination in Shipra, and for the United Nations to visit the area to witness the repression faced by indigenous people.
Association of World Citizens said that the United Nations should be precise in its evaluation of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Iran was a grave violator of women’s rights, and advertised child marriage on State television, yet it was a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Association urged all States from the Asia region with a higher score on the gender equality index to become members of the Commission on the Status of Women, to uphold women’s human rights.
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation drew attention to the rape of children in France. Impunity for pedophilia was deplored. Very few people pressed charges and very few people were prosecuted, which was why this still persisted. Sexual crimes should not fall under a statute of limitations. Traumatic amnesia was one of the pillars of impunity.
Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action forbade discrimination based on political or other opinion. In Baluchistan, Pakistan had failed to protect the human rights of all. There were extrajudicial killings occurring as well as murders of human rights defenders. They were silenced as they tried to raise their voice against the oppression.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that Morocco had occupied Western Sahara and changed its borders. It had also changed the names of its inhabitants, and their citizenship. Sahrawi people had to be heard and they did not want to travel with passports imposed by the occupying force.
The International Organisation for LDCs said that ending poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals agenda could only be achieved through justice and accountability and only if women were the equal partners of men. The organization urged the Council to take the appropriate measures to limit global warming to a maximum to 1.5 degrees.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) said the rights of men and women in Jammu and Kashmir continued to be violated, with youth particularly being subjected to the worse kind of torture. The media gag had been intensified and arbitrary detentions had increased. The Association urged the Council to resolve the conflict according to the agreed upon resolution.
World Muslim Congress said that in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, violence was worsening. In 2018, 160 innocent lives had been taken, including 31 children, and sexual violence was being used as a weapon of war.
Liberation said the Gurkha army had become an integral part of the Indian army in 1948, but it was standard practice for the bodies of army personnel serving in the Indian army to be returned to their families if killed. However, the dead bodies of Nepali soldiers were not returned. Liberation requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ban India for the unequal and unjust behaviour of the Indian army.
World Barua Organization (WBO) said that countries like India needed reminding of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action’s provisions on racial discrimination, and pointed that the caste system flouted these as Dalits were treated as second class citizens. The organization asked India to explain why there were so many examples of civil society defenders who had been detained for fighting the caste system. It called on India to give equal treatment to all.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said the use of emergency powers in the northeast region of India was unjustified. The Government of India, instead of considering the repeal of the emergency powers, as per the Universal Periodic Review recommendations of the past three cycles, was considering formalizing the law. The Committee said the law was about the racist subjugation of the northeast, rather than for security considerations.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said that when faced with violence from the State, the Tamil Liberation Movement had taken up the struggle to defend themselves. However, the Sri Lankan authorities had also pursued Tamil media associations and civil society bodies. Tamil Tandi was the latest media organization being targeted for uncovering the Sri Lankan atrocities, and the Centre called on the Committee to look into these actions.
Le Pont was concerned about the Choco department in Columbia where there had been a 174 per cent increase in massacres and where 70 per cent of the population did not have drinking water. The Government could no longer ignore what was happening. Le Pont called on the Council to condemn any belligerent act by Colombia or Venezuela which would set them on a path to war.
Association culturelle des tamouls en France said asylum seekers should have a right to protection, including in Australia which imposed mandatory and indefinite detention for those arriving by boat and where shifting the burden of proof, amongst other policies, comprised their rights. They called for a formal review of Australia’s refugee and asylum policy and called for action to be taken against the perpetrators of gross human rights violations within detention centres.
International Solidarity for Africa spoke about the violence suffered by Tamils living in Tamil land that was illegally occupied by Sri Lanka. Military commanders should be brought to justice and the Sri Lankan Government should be monitored.
Alliance Creative Community Project said that in the north and east of Sri Lanka, Tamil women were facing abuses of their right to self-determination. Numerous women were looking for their loved ones, who disappeared decades ago. Security forces threatened them. The question of disappeared persons was also a rising concern in India.
Active Solidarity for Family Development (SADF) brought to the attention of the Council the case of a social activist from Tamil Nadu who had gone missing. He had faced several threats to his life as he was exposing mafia, including the involvement of high-level political offices. It was clear that he had been abducted, as he had been campaigning against human rights abuses.
Association of Mali Youth for Agriculture ASJAM said that Tamils lived in fear of security forces. Mothers of missing persons were protesting. Tamil people were living under military occupation. Sri Lanka had failed to deliver its promise and was treating Tamils as second class citizens. The Council was urged to appoint a Special Rapporteur for Sri Lanka.
African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID) said that the rights of occupied Tamil people in Sri Lanka were not upheld and continued to be violated. Where was freedom for millions of Tamils abused by Sri Lankan authorities. What freedom was there for Tamil people whose children were missing, and their land and beaches stolen. Dozens of victims had come to the Council to voice their plight.
ABC Tamil Oli said that the current situation in Sri Lanka was unstable. It showed why Tamils would never be able to seek a right and just solution, despite what was promised in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Sri Lankans continued to discriminate against Tamils with different draconian laws.
The Council has before it the Report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its sixteenth session - Note by the Secretariat (A/HRC/40/75).
The Council has before it the Combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/40/44).
The Council has before it the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards on the tenth session (A/HRC/40/76).
Presentation of Reports on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance
PEGGY HICKS, Director, Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced the High Commissioner’s report on “combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”. This compiled, summarized and analyzed the responses of States on their efforts to implement the Action Plan outlined in paragraphs 7 and 8 of resolution 37/38.
Three potential follow-up measures for further improvement of the implementation of the Action Plan were proposed. First, whilst current submissions from States focused on how constitutional and legislative frameworks were in place to combat all forms of intolerance, greater emphasis must be placed in future on the practical actions taken by governments and other stakeholders. Second, in order for it to be successful, participation in the implementation of the action plan should be expanded. Civil society’s participation was essential to effectively combat intolerance and incitement to violence, and these should be reflected in the reporting. Finally, the High Commissioner suggested that States rationalized the reporting mechanism, which currently required two reports, one to the Human Rights Council and one to the General Assembly. Streamlining could be achieved by either changing the content, or adjusting the reporting timeframes to a biannual period to give a more meaningful update on implementation.
REFILOE LITJOBO, Permanent Representative of Lesotho to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Chair-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, said the Working Group had discussed views on the state of racial discrimination worldwide, mechanisms to combat racism, xenophobia and discrimination, and methods to ensure better synergies between those mechanisms. Its conclusions and recommendations were contained in the report. It was no longer possible to merely conclude year after year that racism was increasing, it was vital to step up the implementation of the recommendations, to which end the best methods to monitor that implementation were contained in the annex of the report. Civil society organizations were taking important initiatives in combatting racism and needed support, both financial and political. A permanent Forum on People of African Descent was to be established which would serve as a platform to improve the quality of life. The report encouraged States, civil society and the public sector to work together and roll out joint programmes to combat racism.
General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was concerned about increased incidents of anti-Muslim attacks and sentiments. A manifestation of such attacks was the heinous terrorist attack in New Zealand. These incidents were motivated by the populist frenzy, provoked by misguided media, and linked with obvious double standards that portrayed Muslims as violent aggressors.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference, and the Programme of Activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. All countries were called upon to work constructively in the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent.
Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the attack in New Zealand underlined the necessity to implement fully and effectively the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was a base for combatting this scourge. Violent extremism caused by propagation of ideologies promoting nationalist and populist ideologies had to be combatted. A permanent Forum on People of African Descent should be established.
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, regretted the lack of tolerance and a growing hatred of the other, which all could see in the treatment of migrants. The awful attacks in New Zealand were carried out against people for being Muslin, and such intolerance must be addressed. The Arab Group called for this undertaking to be honoured, and appealed to the international community to prioritize combatting these phenomena, in order to build a peaceful culture.
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the importance of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as an important document that formed a basis on which all could fight intolerance. There was an urgent need to tackle intolerance across the world, including areas under occupation. The Non-Aligned Movement condemned all forms of violence against people for their religious beliefs or race, which persisted across the world.
Romania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that in the fiftieth year of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Member States needed to do more to fight intolerance. The European Union condemned the attacks in New Zealand and expressed its sincere condolences. The European Union had worked to reach a consensus on the Programme of Activities for the Decade for People of African Descent, but regretted that the agreements reached had been questioned.
Haiti, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, reiterated the Community’s aversion to all forms of discrimination and intolerance, and encouraged all Member States to participate in the next session of the Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Community called on the Council to put an end to the lasting effects of slavery, to improve the economic status of people of African descent, and to commit to and adopt measures to tackle the deep causes of discrimination.
Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said that countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council were committed to tolerance and coexistence and had all enacted a model law to reject extremism. They called on Member States to criminalize terrorist acts forcefully and to suppress hate speech and discrimination by combining efforts and resolutions 262, the Durban Declaration and Security Council resolution 16/18 to put together a sound strategy to counter discrimination.
Nicaragua, speaking on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance, spoke out against the genocide of the native populations of the Americas and the Caribbean and discussed possible reparations. The Bolivarian Alliance was concerned about the rising expression of hatred and racism against migrants, especially women. The effects of discrimination were expounded by the unfair distribution of wealth.
Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the entire world was deeply disturbed by the terrorist act in New Zealand which unfortunately was not the first of its kind but only one example of a series of successive racist incidents nurtured by Islamophobia. Some States were still facing considerable challenges in their endeavour to criminalize such behaviour on their territory.
Pakistan said that world was confronted with an upsurge of new forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. Populist leadership in many countries were vilifying religious communities, demonizing migrants and physically assaulting ethnic minorities. To win popular vote, such leadership promoted xenophobic political discourse in the garb of patriotism, using both mainstream and social media.
India said that the Durban Declaration had given a comprehensive action oriented document with concrete proposals and measures to combat racism. There should not be any State sponsored or institutionalized discrimination against any individual or group, and States should not condone or encourage regressive social attitudes, which fuelled such discriminatory attitudes and practices.
Brazil reaffirmed its steadfast commitment to the conclusions of the Durban Conference and to the Programme of Activities of the Decade for People of African Descent, as the majority of the Brazilian population was made up of people of African descent. Supporting the programme was a testament of Brazil’s commitment to fight racism. Brazil supported the call for a permanent forum to be established on people of African descent, and committed to facilitating this.
Cuba were concerned at the increase in the western world of racist and xenophobic acts. The Cuban revolution had fought for 60 years against such injustices. Today, a majority of parliamentarians were black or of mixed race, as were a number of senior members of the judiciary, thereby demonstrating Cuba’s commitment to non-discrimination. It was crucial that today the Council adopted resolutions that ensured all people were treated equally.
Iraq believed all human beings were born equal, and called for all to uphold the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Hatred was a scourge, and they condemned the savage massacre that had been committed in New Zealand. New Zealanders believed in justice and equality, and so it was important that all took steps to combat such actions. Iraq was committed to building a tolerant and equal society.
Tunisia said the upsurge of racism and hatred should move the international community and human rights defenders to work together and upscale their efforts, including positive measures to protect minorities and migrant rights. Tunisia was at the forefront of those implementing progressive laws. In 2018, a new law to combat racism and discrimination in all their manifestations was implemented and Tunisia remained prepared to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Qatar condemned the hostile terrorist act perpetrated in New Zealand where scores of innocent Muslims had lost their lives. The values of tolerance could not be overcome by racism, and States had a duty to address the rise of destructive violence and the proliferation of right wing thought and speech. Qatar had hosted a number of conferences on tolerance, such as the interfaith dialogue, and had implemented measures to keep youth away from radicalism.
Egypt called on the European Union to provide full rights to migrants and was concerned about the growing climate of xenophobia in Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and the Czech Republic, where violence against Muslims was increasing and where a number of innocent people had been murdered. It called for those countries to provide explanations, implement measures and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Bahrain said that ensuring effectiveness in the implementation of the Durban Declaration was crucial for combatting racism and xenophobia, especially against Muslims. The terrorist attack in New Zealand was a clear warning of the rising intolerance and Islamophobia. Together, the international community had to tackle structural causes of racism and highlight best practices in combatting it in order to remedy all forms of xenophobia.
Bangladesh said that manifestations of racism and religious profiling were intensifying, and were further aggravated by populism and far right sentiments. The fascist and anti-migrant manifestos of some political leaders in the West were encouraging religious bigots and terrorists. The global community had to condemn such practices in the most serious terms. The most persecuted community in history was applying the same principles it suffered from against Palestinians. Clearly, they had not learnt from history.
China said that some progress had been made in the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Some right wing extremists and Nazi sympathizers were increasing their influence and the Internet was often used to spread hate. Refugees and migrants faced discrimination on an institutional basis. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action specified good orientation for combatting racial discrimination.
Nigeria condemned all forms of intolerance, and remained concerned about right wing extremism that jeopardized international security. The New Zealand attacks were another sign of this, and Nigeria called on the international community to step up its efforts to fight such intolerance. To this end, Nigeria underscored the importance of implementing all the requirements of the Durban Declaration.
Ukraine deplored the terrorist attacks in New Zealand, and all such forms of intolerance. Ukraine had not experienced racial conflict since independence. However, 18 March 2019 marked five years since Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea, since which human rights violations against the Crimean Tatar People had been rife. The Russian Federation, as a party to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, must abide by the International Court of Justice ruling regarding its actions in Crimea.
South Africa reiterated its strongest condemnation of the attacks in New Zealand, and such intolerance reminded of the importance of implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. As the international community approached the halfway mark of the Decade for People of African Descent, members should step up the actions of its work programme, in cooperation with the peoples affected. The Office of the High Commissioner should contribute to a Multi-Year Programme of Action to mobilize the public in support of the Durban Declaration.
Saudi Arabia expressed condolences to victims and families of Christchurch and the Netherlands and said that the sympathy and solidarity shown in the wake of these acts showed that terrorism was rejected by humanity. Lenience on hate speech under the guise of freedom of expression was worrying and Saudi Arabia called on States to effectively defy all extremist voices and legislate laws to promote tolerance.
Israel quoted Macron who publicly recognized that “anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism” and called on the Council to also recognize this and act decisively. Israel said that governments needed to do more to educate people and children about the values of respect, non-discrimination and peace.
Libya called on all countries to take serious steps to deal with the causes of attacks such as the one carried out in Christchurch. The Working Group on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and its monitoring of the implementation of recommendations was essential in the current climate.
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) reaffirmed that the fight against all forms of racism was a legitimate concern of the international community, even more given the effects of extremist movements that gave rise to politics that motivated racism and racial discrimination. Bolivia had adopted a programme of activities for people of Afro-Bolivian descent, and created a national committee to promote public policies.
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) condemned the terrorist attacks in New Zealand and expressed solidarity with the victims. The Working Group had discussed measures to increase the effectiveness of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was a solid base to combat xenophobia and racial discrimination.
Russian Federation said that combatting racism was one of the most important areas of the work of the United Nations. Unfortunately, there was a resurrection of historical revisionism. In many countries, immunity to such ideologies had weakened and there was acquiescence to extremism, even sometimes encouragement of radicals. European countries and the United States were seeing increasing migrant-phobia.
Costa Rica welcomed the Programme of Activities of the Decade for People of African Descent, and the report of the Working Group. Costa Rica condemned racial discrimination and all theories that prioritized one race over another. It urged the High Commissioner to organize activities to enable the media to fight such discrimination, and called for a draft declaration recognizing the cultural, economic and social contributions of people of African descent to society. This should dovetail with the requirements of the 2030 Agenda.
Maldives condemned the heinous attacks at two mosques in New Zealand. Today, terrorism had crossed borders and left in its wake a trail of destruction. Maldives rejected all forms of terrorism committed everywhere around the world, and called for others to do the same. Racial prejudice was a global threat that required a global solution, and Maldives urged members to address this collectively through joint efforts.
Azerbaijan extended their deepest condolences to the victims of the attacks in New Zealand. Azerbaijan regretted that many forms of intolerance had infiltrated political discourse all over the world. States should develop mechanisms to fight this scourge. Azerbaijan was committed to doing so at home, and hosted regular forums and conferences to foster inter cultural dialogue and understanding.
Botswana supported the recommendation for States to elaborate a Declaration on People of African Descent. It was pleased that the report discussed the impact of extremist political parties and far right ideologies and called on all States to implement the Working Group’s recommendations and conclusions.
Morocco said that its Government had put in place numerous measures, including national legislation to prevent all forms of discrimination. The Special Rapporteur had welcomed the measures taken to foster the rights of migrants in Morocco and those to integrate their children into society.
Algeria expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the Christchurch attack and welcomed the timely report on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Algeria noted with concern the increasing number of incidents of racism and discrimination, and the discriminatory practices against migrants and refugees.
Islamic Republic of Iran underscored the inherent dignity of all human beings. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action still served as a solid basis and a common legacy for further actions and initiatives of the international community. Targeting and blaming specific groups, nations or races was unacceptable and it led to the killing of innocent people.
Lebanon agreed with all the conclusions reached by the Working Group, especially on setting up national standards that could counter xenophobia and fanaticism. All States had to cooperate on this, and the attack in New Zealand testified to the culture of hatred in some places that had to be fought. Societies were under the threat of racism, and this was a product of globalization and the lack of justice.
Greece said that 50 years after it entered into force, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was unfortunately as relevant as ever. Resorting to scapegoating and blaming the other provided a simplistic narrative on a complex issue and an easy way to deflect blame and instrumentalize hatred. It was a phenomenon all too commonly observed, against which it was crucial to take action.
Jamaica remained firmly committed to the Durban Declaration and recalled the need to give effect to its commitments such as designating 25 March as an annual International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and the erection of a permanent memorial at the United Nations for this. Jamaica highlighted work ongoing at the national level with a view to marking the anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Trinidad and Tobago stated that as much of its heritage had been affected by slavery and colonialism, they appreciated the need to understand the structural dynamics which shaped the current world. Last month, a pilot initiative – the Housing and Village Improvement Programme - had been launched to deliver housing to residents of Samuel Cooper Village, a community comprising the descendants of formerly enslaved African-Americans.
Turkey remained highly concerned about the rise in all forms of intolerance, mainly in Western countries. The attacks in New Zealand showed the danger of such intolerance. Many politicians around the word continued to spread hatred in their rhetoric, and Turkey called on them to stop this, and regretted any links being made between terrorism and Islam. Turkey had convened a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on 22 March to discuss the terrorist attacks in New Zealand.
Colombia thanked the Working Group for the report on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Work. Although diversity and pluralism enriched States, high rates of illiteracy, poverty and lack of economic access caused discrimination. The Government had undergone regulatory reforms, including a specific law on anti-discrimination.
Canada said there was a collective duty to end the cycles of discrimination and division. To this end, last year, the Canadian Government had launched a national dialogue on a strategy to fight racism, and had adopted a motion condemning Islamophobia and discrimination. The only way to combat demagoguery was by sharing of good practices.
Sudan considered the fight against racism and the Durban Declaration as one of the great successes of the Council despite ongoing challenges. Migrants suffered the effects of racism in Western countries which proved that democracy was not a guarantee of human rights. Sudan appealed to the Council to spare no efforts to fight racism.
Armenia highlighted the role of education for the promotion of a culture of respect for human rights as an indispensable function of prevention. Upon initiatives of Armenia, the Council had adopted four resolutions on the prevention of genocide. Armenia reiterated it firm commitment and determination to support global efforts directed towards the prevention of genocide as well as combatting racism.
Lesotho noted that the Durban Declaration still remained an important framework, which States and other stakeholders could look up to whilst working towards combatting racial discrimination and intolerance. Even after 18 years of its adoption, it still remained a vibrant document that concerned all States. It was through concerned efforts of the United Nations system and national ownership that States could reclaim the Durban Declaration.
Indonesia said that despite numerous resolutions on anti-discrimination and continued deliberations under item 9 of this Council, the challenges beiing faced today were more prevalent than ever. Turning to the tragic event in New Zealand, Indonesia said that with the rise of national populism and extreme ideologies, enhanced by technological advancement, some tried to broadcast such heinous acts live as if it was a normal trend to garner followers.
Jordan condemned attacks in New Zealand, saying it should teach all to unite in fight against fanaticism. The international community had to mobilize efforts and forces to counter the hatred of the other. They could not allow people who deviated from the path of goodness to do what they felt like doing. The international community had struggled to adopt resolution 22/50 and countries were urged to adhere to it.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said that if more work had been done to inform the public of the content of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the international community would have made more progress in strengthening its work against racism. A stronger relationship between implementing the Durban Declaration and the 2030 Agenda was needed.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) said there was nothing preventing the upholding of rights of indigenous peoples, except the lack of political will within the Council. They asked for action without delay to address cases of harassment of indigenous peoples exercising their land rights in Alaska, Hawaii, Sri Lanka and Canada. When would the Council deal with these acts of racism and discrimination.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” stated that indigenous peoples in Latin America found themselves threatened with extinction today. The Mapuche people of Chile found themselves in prison simply for defending their lands. Despite the creation of the Human Rights Council, indigenous peoples were still being persecuted for defending their human rights, and had been subjected to unwarranted imprisonment.
Sikh Human Rights Group said that barriers still existed for Sikh communities to enjoy their full human rights, particularly in France which continued to apply a very basic unreformed version of “secularism”. The group encouraged France and other countries to adopt a more sophisticated version of secularism which would allow it to conform to paragraph 67 of the Durban Declaration (which had the Sikh community in mind).
African Green Foundation International said that Tamil politicians were not allowing internally displaced Singhalese people to return to their lands in northern Sri Lanka and highlighted the double standards suffered by the Sinhalese.
The International Organisation for LDCs urged the Council to adhere to the declaration on religious tolerance signed in Abu Dhabi after the Pope’s visit and to consolidate their efforts to promote tolerance.
Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation condemned attacks on civilians in New Zealand. The serious lack of any progress on Sri Lanka was noted. Sri Lanka had not only failed to implement its commitments but it added insult to injury by publically saying it would not implement resolution 30/1 that it had co-sponsored. The lack of humanity displayed by Member States that were shielding Sri Lanka from responsibility was shocking.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme said that terrorist attacks in New Zealand demonstrated the peak of racism and fanatical populism, which went against universal values. It was a reminder that hate knew no boundaries. All States were called upon to heighten their efforts in preventing actions of shadowy political groups in their countries.
Guinea Medical Mutual Association appreciated efforts of the High Commissioner on racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. After the genocides against Armenians, Jews, Igbo in Biafra, and group in Mali and Rwanda, now after 15 years there was increasing violence with militias, well known to the United Nations, but they continued their work in impunity. The international community had to work locally and provide proper education to young people.
The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd recalled the recent passing of a law in Israel’s Knes0set, making the State of Israel a Jewish State and relegating the Arabic language to a secondary status. The National State Law declared that illegal Israeli settlements were a national value, in clear violation of international law and in exercise of apartheid practices. Palestinians faced increasing displacement and house demolitions.
World Jewish Congress said that racism against Jews dated back several millennia. The Jews of Persia had been forced to defend themselves from a royal decree to destroy the Jewish race. Hamas posed an even greater danger to the Jewish people. Anti-Jewish racism was rampant across the world and it was only getting worse. Actions like those of Hamas would never lead to peace and the Human Rights Council had to condemn that genocidal practice.
International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists expressed concern about the rise of anti-Semitism across the world through hate speech on social media, and attacks on synagogues and Jewish property. The rise of populist nationalism enabled the rise of anti-Semitism. The Association urged States to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism and urged the Special Rapporteur on racism to incorporate such a definition of anti-Semitism, and to monitor and provide recommendations in that regard. Anti-Semitism was never just about Jews, but it also generally influenced an increase in intolerance.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association stated that the indigenous people of the northeast region of India were being persecuted by the right-wing Government of India. The group was ethnically closer to the south Asian population than to that of the Indian sub-continent, yet a population transfer to make them a minority in their own land was underway, as part of the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2013.
International Buddhist Relief Organisation said a number of Singhalese army generals had been penalized for defeating the Tamils. The High Commissioner had accused them of war crimes, an act which was criticized by many experts. Her condemnation of General Silva’s appointment as Chief of Staff of the army was unwarranted, as the High Commissioner had no right to interfere in this internal matter.
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation was aware that despite work by the international community, the scourge of racism persisted. In Libya, arrests and arbitrary detentions were continuing under the law for the prevention of terrorism. The Government of Libya had failed to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and the organization called on the Council to pressure Libya to defend the rights of oppressed Tebou and Tawareg peoples.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said that discrimination and inhuman conditions remained the daily reality for tens of thousands of Dalits in India. The majority of Dalits were restricted to most menial, dirty and dangerous jobs and were socially boycotted. While previous and current Indian governments had failed to end the dehumanizing practices towards Dalits, rationalists who stood against racial discrimination were subjected to violence.
Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea said that Houthi militias were practicing various forms of religious and sectarian discrimination by forcibly displacing Yemeni citizens of the Jewish faith, as well as their aggressions against the Salafis in the Damaj region of Yemen. The violations had escalated since the coup of the militias in September 2014, the most recent which were committed against the Baha’is and the citizens of the Hajour tribes in Hajjah governorate.
Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights, speaking about the repatriation of the human remains of indigenous Ainu people, said more than 1,700 human skeletons had been stolen by scientists in 1920 and remained at the National Hokkaido University, Tokyo University and others. Ainu people had been calling for the repatriation of the remains since 1980. However, Hokkaido University had rejected this. Article 12 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be invoked.
Health and Environment Program (HEP) called on Governments to fight poverty, strengthen education, and introduce modern mechanisms for children in risk situations and potential victims of racism and xenophobia. The organization hoped for the delivery of better health and equity for all, and it hoped that all Member States could ratify the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination welcomed the recommendations of the Working Group in preparation for the twentieth anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Hate speech by political representatives had an important impact on society and the recent attacks on mosques in New Zealand were just an example of that trend. The organization believed that it was important that States enacted domestic legislation to criminalize racist and hate speech in accordance with international standards.
Association of World Citizens appreciated the efforts of the United Nations and of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to combat racism and xenophobia, and appreciated all the recommendations set out in the High Commissioner’s report. In spite of all those actions, racial discrimination against foreigners and Muslims was on the rise. The heinous crimes in New Zealand showed that hate speech was a crime that at any moment could be converted into an attack.
Tourner la page reminded that Sri Lanka had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, but the Tamil nation continued to suffer violations, such as military occupation, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Since 1999, thousands of Tamils had been living as internally displaced persons. The organization asked the Human Rights Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court and not to allow war criminals to its sessions.
L'observatoire mauritanien des droits de l'homme et de la démocratie said that Tamils had suffered discrimination for decades. The United Nations and international organizations had never taken a decision for fear of antagonizing the Singhalese regime. The Sri Lankan Government had created joblessness among Tamils. The Government had passed the Terrorism Prevention Act and its primary victims were Tamils.
Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule said that ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka had resulted in illegal and arbitrary arrests and detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances, rape and torture in custody, and extra judicial killings and internal displacement of the Tamil communities. Years of discriminatory political and economic development had produced a setting of marginality and instability in the war ravaged north and east of Sri Lanka.
Network of Women's Non-governmental Organizations in the Islamic Republic of Iran said they believed in the contributions of non-governmental organizations and religious minorities in solving legal, civil and social problems of women. According to the Constitution of Iran, all human beings enjoyed equal human rights. Sanctions against Iran caused problems for many Iranians, including access to food and medicine.
Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment highlighted the discrimination faced by the entire people of Baluchistan. Pakistan’s xenophobia towards the Baluch people was evident in its approach to them, including the transfer of fanatical religious groups to their region to dominate them. The State had systematically segregated them and kept them from economic activity. The appointment of a Special Rapporteur was urgently needed to address this issue
Institute for NGO Research said that the Durban Declaration was meant to serve as a marker for tolerance for members, however numerous signatories had examples of anti-Semitism in their societies. They asked what the Council was doing to counter outrageous anti-Semitic acts. Israel was the only country highlighted in the work of the Council. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights remained silent on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe.
World Environment and Resources Council (WERC) said Israel had one of the broadest anti-discrimination laws, and one of the most open populations in the world. Israel was an active multi-party State, and parties representing Arabs regularly won elections. The United States was also a State that paid careful regard to human rights, and even when it went to war, it made every effort to minimize civilian casualties and suffering.
International Educational Development, Inc. was pleased that the Special Adviser on genocide and mass atrocities met with them to discuss extreme racism in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic regarding the Hmong people who supported the United States during the Viet Nam war. Since the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of Hmong had fled their areas and sought and received asylum in many countries.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology spoke about the concept of nationality. This was particularly disturbing in the case of Pakistan whose exclusive society and xenophobia clouded the concept of nationality. Xenophobia was not individual but it was present in policies in the name of eradicating external threats. Pakistan was shying away from possibility of inclusion of different cultures and religions. There was growing mistrust of Pakistani with dual citizenship.
European Union of Public Relations said that in Pakistan racism was prevalent although it denied the racism in its socio-political culture. As an overly Islamic country, Pakistan had been forcing religious minorities to convert to Islam. It often imposed its position that beliefs of ethnic minorities were inferior. Discrimination was experienced in all forms of life.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said in addition to problems like xenophobia, sectarian violence, minority conflicts, and Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, racism was rife in Pakistan. The Association
called attention to Pakistan’s disregard for the international human rights instruments which it had ratified.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace reminded that despite being a signatory of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Pakistan had failed to uphold its principles. The claims of multiculturalism and inclusion failed in the face of fundamentalism and racism, as exemplified by the violation of the rights of the Kalash people, and the Government’s failure to document gypsies and nomads.
International-Lawyers.Org noted the call to States to adopt legislation to criminalize hate and racist speech, and emphasized the importance of the recognition of intolerant behaviour in that respect. Political leaders must fight the structural foundations of racism and guide social behaviour towards inclusion and tolerance. The organization strongly believed that hate speech was a systematic problem that required systematic solutions.
United Schools International stated that Pakistan was not the tolerant and inclusive nation it claimed to be. Xenophobia and sectarian violence served Pakistan’s agenda to make society extremist and monolithic. The Sunni majority fuelled sectarianism in the interest of the elite. Negative stereotyping and stigmatization posed a dangerous threat to equality and justice.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said the world had witnessed a sharp increase in Islamophobia in recent years, since the September 11 attacks. This had been exacerbated by Western media and politicians who had flamed anti-Islamic sentiment. These groups were responsible for the Christchurch mosque attacks. There was a wide precept in the West that discrimination was caused by the high number of refugees, but this was not the case.
Prahar called on the Council to acknowledge the caste-based discrimination faced by the Dalit community in India. The Government of India treated the caste system as a private national matter, not for the Council to interfere with. It still held a view that caste was not race, and therefore the Durban Declaration was not relevant to it. The Council must include the caste system as a race issue, and a Special Rapporteur must be appointed to look into its role in affecting economic and educational sphere.
Refugee Council of Australia stated that for years, politicians had demonized and scare-mongered against minorities, which had emboldened a segment of the population to act violently against such groups. This rhetoric had led to inhumane policies such as the offshore detention of asylum seekers in Australia. New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s actions following the mosque attack had shown that true leadership celebrated diversity, and did not fear it.
Hamraah Foundation drew attention to the Durban Declaration and its principles of equality and non-discrimination. Despite pledging to repeal its discriminatory laws, Sri Lanka had maintained discrimination against Tamils, who were still seeking justice. The organization called on the Human Rights Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Code and to appoint a special mandate holder for that country.
Association Thendral reminded of the 2009 genocide of Tamils for which Tamils still sought justice. Sri Lanka was lobbying heavily against those efforts. The organization noted that no additional time should be given to Sri Lanka to advance with peace and reconciliation, and that it be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Godwin Osung International Foundation, Inc. (The African Project) reminded that the Vienna Declaration spoke of the full enjoyment of cultural rights. In that light, the proposed new education policy of India was a racist and discriminatory attack on linguistic minorities. In a country where the education syllabus was still not uniform across the country, the Government had imposed a common exam based on one syllabus.
Giving Life Nature Volunteer noted that Tamils in northeast Sri Lanka had been denied economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. They were hit by deep-rooted poverty and draconian legislation leading to arrest and detention. The only way to ensure that they enjoyed their rights was for the Council to call for the ending of the military occupation of Tamil land and for their self-determination.
Elizka Relief Foundation criticized the oppression faced by Tamils in northern Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minster had stated that he would not implement the United Nations resolutions regarding the Tamil people. The notorious General Silva’s appointment as Chief of Staff of the army was also condemned given his role in the Tamil conflict. The Tamil people of Sri Lanka had asked for the referral of Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court, but this had yet to occur.
Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social criticized Ecuador for its ill treatment of Venezuelan migrants in the country. It pointed to the high number of Ecuadorians in Venezuela who had their rights protected. The organization asked the Council to reject any resolutions that criminalized Venezuelans in Ecuador, and called upon Ecuador to drop their narrative of hate that particularly demonized Venezuelan women and girls in Ecuador.
United Nations Watch said a University of Essex Zionist group had been prevented from being formed after opposition from students and staff. Furthermore, a branch of Amnesty International at Essex University had also opposed the creation of the group. Additionally, on the previous day, when the delegate had sought to list names of countries that had spoken in the debate against Israel, he had been shut down. He asked where was the freedom of speech and the non-discrimination.
Center for Environmental and Management Studies said that Pakistan had always denied that it was perpetrator of extremist thoughts and pretended that racism did not exist in the country. Even those with elite education and occupying high-ranking positions were no strangers to racism and hate speech. Inclusion and tolerance for people of different faiths had recently been rejected by the captain of Pakistan’s national cricket team.
International Association for Democracy in Africa noted that Pakistan was playing the game of xenophobia and in its egoism, it was shutting the door to progress and economic development, refusing foreign investments. The hatred of anything foreign highlighted Pakistan’s duplicity. Pakistan was a safe haven for terrorists and radical voices.
Canners International Permanent Committee reminded that Pakistan in its hatred of anything foreign, was left poor and underdeveloped. Most of the recent decisions by the Pakistani authorities had provided to be a big flop, hurting its international image. Another example of Pakistan’s intolerance and racism was the decision to return millions of Afghan refugees to their homeland.
Union of Arab Jurists called attention to the rise in hate speech around the world, especially by politicians. Xenophobia could lead to the denial of the most basic human rights, but also to hate crimes, such as the recent attacks in New Zealand. Hate speech had to be condemned in all circumstances and the organization thus appealed to all nations and individuals to fight against the tide of racism and xenophobia, and to enact laws criminalizing hate speech.
Association for the Victims of the world said that the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka was the cause of gross violations of human rights. The Act silenced the voices of the Tamil victims, and violated the civil and political rights of the Tamil communities as well as their economic, social and cultural rights. The Association urged the Council to call on the Government of Sri Lanka to grant the right to self-determination to the Tamils.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) said that the principles of equality and non-discrimination were core human rights and turned victims into rights-holders. The Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka marginalized Tamils though detentions and arbitrary arrests.
World Muslim Congress said India was unsafe for minorities and marginalized communities due to the extremist Hindu ideology. The most vulnerable were those in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and the World Muslim Congress called on the Council to pressure India to practice at home what it preached to the Council.
Ingénieurs du Monde condemned the horrific murder of Muslims in New Zealand. Sadly, those who claimed to speak for Muslims failed to defend their rights. China had voted for every resolution on this issue, yet Uighurs were oppressed in China, their travel restricted, and some were detained. They asked why China did one thing and said something else, and regretted that no resolution was proposed at this session on the oppression of Uighurs.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) stated that India had been giving long sermons on religious tolerance, however they rarely practiced this at home. Hindu radical groups had been given impunity to attack and murder Muslims, Christians and Dalits in India. In Kashmir, there were many examples of attacks on minorities, and they urged the Council to come forward and take concrete steps to prevent such barbaric acts.
Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training, in a joint submission regarding the Nduga region of West Papua, highlighted repression towards indigenous people in that region, in particular remote areas which were deprived of water and electricity. More than 500 demonstrators were recently arbitrarily detained by authorities. The Special Rapporteur had found structural problems as a result of land destroyed by industrial projects.
Global Welfare Association reminded that colonialism had led to racism and noted the damage done to the culture of the Sri Lankan people due to the divide and rule style of colonialism instituted by Great Britain. The organization regretted the persistence of those colonial practices which had led to internal conflicts and lasting economic and social disadvantage in many post-colonial societies. The Durban Declaration reminded the world of those vestiges of colonialism which should be addressed
Liberation called attention to the racism perpetuated by the caste system in India, noting that the actions taken by the Government of India were not at all sufficient because people were still clinging to the principle of untouchability. Racial violence had increased in India, especially since the current ruling party had come to power. Liberation thus urged the Council to ask India to increase the budget for scheduled castes.
World Barua Organization (WBO) noted that in some countries States denied the existence of racism. India should be considered a leader of that group as it denied the existence of racial discrimination. The main problems of racism in India were linked to the caste system. The Indian National Council of Education, Research and Training had just ordered that a chapter on the caste system be dropped from textbooks. The Council should remind India of its responsibilities under the Durban Declaration.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had recommended that the Indian Government reform its legislation around gender based violence perpetrated by the armed forces. However, they were amending the Criminal Code to further stigmatize indigenous women. The Committee called on the Council to put pressure on India to repeal the law before it was implemented.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said 10 months had passed since the commission of enquiry on the situation in Sri Lanka had visited the country, yet no report had been issued and no justice had been served nor any compensation made to the victims.
Tamil Uzhagam said rural Tamils were under persecution in their own land, and were not free to decide on their social and cultural development. It urged the Council to refer the Government to the International Criminal Court and to appoint a country specific rapporteur to report on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
Le Pont said point seven of the Durban Declaration stated that all were born equal, but basic human rights were being flouted in Tamil Ilem in northern Sri Lanka who were not taught in their own language amongst other grievances. They were discriminated against and denied opportunities due to their Muslim religion, which amounted to an apartheid situation.
ABC Tamil Oli underlined that for Sri Lanka’s transitional justice process to be successful it must enjoy the confidence of victims. Thousands of Tamils had sought asylum in countries such as India and Australia. Credible reports continued to raise concern about the abduction and arbitrary detention of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Tamils in Sri Lanka stated that they identified as Tamil and those abroad feared being forcefully returned to Sri Lanka.
Association culturelle des tamouls en France called attention to the systematic human rights violations in Sri Lanka, including anti-Tamil pogroms. The statements made by the President of Sri Lanka revealed an intent to destroy the Tamil people. The international community should ensure the human rights of Tamils and the International Criminal Court had to prosecute the crime of genocide against Tamils.
International Solidarity for Africa reminded that hundreds of thousands of people, including Tamil politicians, members of civil society, religious leaders and many Sinhala human rights activists had protested and requested that Sri Lanka not be granted any additional time by the Council with respect to its transitional justice process. The organization requested that the Council refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court in order to provide justice to the Tamil people.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment noted that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka nowadays lived under military occupation. The organization urged the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court and to appoint a Special Rapporteur to monitor the militarization of Tamil lands in north-west Sri Lanka.
African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID) said many of the world’s stateless people were deprived of their dignity and were denied a seat at the global table. People in Kurdistan, Baluchistan, Tamil Eelam and Catalonia were not able to determine their national destiny.
Active Solidarity for Family Development (SADF) said language had a huge significance in the development of societies. There was an ongoing language struggle in Tamil Nadu. The organization called on the Indian Government to recognize the rights of Tamils and stop imposing Hindi.
Servas International said xenophobia against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers was the cause of increased racism and hate crimes. There were 1,000 instances of Islamophobia last year in London. The comprehensive follow-up of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was still lacking and the Council needed to make it a priority.
Russian Peace Foundation said that forced assimilation was a new form of racism in the twenty-first century, yet there was no international document which declared it illegal. The term national minority also needed a working definition in order to guarantee their rights.
28. Jun reminded of the twentieth anniversary of the illegal bombing by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of Yugoslavia (today Serbia and Montenegro), noting that the then Secretary-General of the organization Jens Stoltenberg had told the people of Yugoslavia that they were bombed for their own good and that joining the organization was in their interest. In order for the Western Balkans to move forward, the international community had to champion multi-ethnic solutions.
International Council of Russian Compatriots (ICRC) offered condolences to all those who had suffered from terrorist acts. In line with the Durban Declaration, it urged the Council to rapidly resolve the rights of the people of Transnistria. The international political status of that region remained unresolved, but that did not mean that its people should not enjoy their rights, including the right to development.
Right of Reply
Latvia, speaking in a right of reply in response to the Russian Federation, explained the history of occupation of Latvia by totalitarian regimes during the Second World War, namely by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The occupying Soviet and Nazi regimes forcibly drafted Latvian men into their armies. In 1943, the Nazis had created the Latvian Legion, which was a frontline unit and one third of the men had died on the front. None of them had been convicted as war criminals. Services commemorating members of both Nazi and Soviet units were organized on a personal basis. Latvia categorically denounced the Holocaust and all totalitarian regimes.
Myanmar, speaking in a right of reply, regretted the irresponsible remarks made by the delegation of Bangladesh, stating that ethnic cleansing was not a charge to be thrown around loosely, and was not happening in Myanmar. The poem quoted by the delegation was no longer in the curriculum in Myanmar and their statement did not reflect the reality.
Democratic People’s Republic of Lao, speaking in a right of reply in response to a non-governmental organization, expressed its strong rejection of this statement and would not repeat its already stated position.
Ecuador, speaking in a right of reply, said over 1 million Venezuelan migrants had entered Ecuador and half had stayed. The Government had done its upmost to assist them and their protection was fundamental through the issuing of visas and the processing of 200,000 asylum applications. A state of emergency had been extended to assist the situation. The countries of the region had shown an exemplary response to the migrant crisis, unlike other parts of the world. Ecuador had convened a third meeting on the outcome of the Quito process and presented a viable solution.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that non-governmental organizations had launched reproaches to China, although they had nothing to do with the agenda item. The Durban Declaration provided clear guidance on how to combat racial discrimination and China implemented recommendations in its national legislation. To ensure peaceful coexistence was the ultimate goal of China and they supported the implementation of the Durban Declaration. The position on Xinjiang region was stated by the Assistant Minister so there was no need for repeat. The socio-economic situation included positive achievements.
Bangladesh, speaking in a right of reply in reference to Myanmar’s right to reply, said that ethnic cleansing of Rohingya was nothing new, and it was frequently mentioned by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and others as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Rohingya were discriminated against, persecuted and subjected to hate speech. The Government of Myanmar was called upon to take necessary measures, including reacting to hate speech.
For use of the information media; not an official record