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

6 August 2018

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its ninety-sixth session during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Montenegro, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Mauritius, Cuba, and Japan.  The Committee heard an address by Carla Edelenbos, Chief of the Petitions and Inquiries Section at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopted the session’s agenda and programme of work.

In her opening statement, Ms. Edelenbos reminded that on 13 July 2018 the General Assembly had approved the final draft of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which would be presented for adoption by Heads of State in Morocco in early December 2018.  The Global Compact was conceived as a cooperative framework to foster cooperation on migration, based on international human rights law, including the Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  According to objective 17, States committed to eliminate all forms of discrimination, violence, xenophobia and related intolerance against migrants, to establish mechanisms to prevent and respond to racial, ethnic and religious profiling of migrants, and to engage with political, religious and community leaders and with educators to identify and prevent incidents of intolerance, racism and xenophobia against migrants.  The Global Compact also envisaged the establishment of a capacity building mechanism for purposes of implementation and a follow-up and review mechanism, an International Migration Review Forum. 

The High-Level Political Forum to follow-up and monitor the 2030 Agenda on Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, which had met in New York in July 2018, had focused on the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.  The ministerial declaration adopted at the end of the forum had recognized that universal respect for human rights and human dignity, peace, justice, equality and non-discrimination was central to Member States’ commitment to leave no one behind.  The declaration had emphasised that high quality, accessible, timely and reliable data and statistics were central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and that data and statistics should be disaggregated by race, ethnicity and migration status, among other factors.  The 2019 High-Level Political Forum would focus on the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” and it would review the implementation, among others, of Goal 10 on reducing inequalities within and among countries, and Goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Turning to the Human Rights Council, Ms. Edelenbos reminded that during its thirty-eighth session, held from 18 June to 6 July 2018, the Council had adopted resolution A/HRC/38/L.11 on the incompatibility between democracy and racism.  The Council had been alarmed by the rise of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in political circles, in public opinion and the society at large.  The Council had expressed deep concern about the rise of extremist political parties, movements and groups that sought to normalize racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, particularly against migrants and refugees.  The Council had decided to convene a high-level panel discussion to be held before September 2019, to discuss the incompatibility between democracy and racism, with a view to identifying challenges and good practices.  The Council had also held its annual interactive dialogue with Ms. Achiume Tendayi, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  The Special Rapporteur had presented her thematic report on racial discrimination in the context of citizenship, nationality and migration status, and a report on combatting the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices.  She had called on States to adopt measures to explicitly condemn and eliminate racist and xenophobic practices based on ethno-nationalism, and to withdraw support for political parties and organizations that engaged in hate speech aiming at inciting violence and to take immediate measures to combat direct and indirect manifestations of neo-Nazism affecting youth and children, including their recruitment to extremist groups.

Moving on to the International Court of Justice, Ms. Edelenbos recalled that on 23 July 2018, the Court had issued provisional measures in the case lodged by Qatar against the United Arab Emirates on the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  The Court had decided that it had a prima facie jurisdiction, pursuant to article 22 of the Convention to deal with the request for interim measures, and had requested that the United Arab Emirates ensure the reunification of families of Qatari origin, that Qatari students were afforded the opportunity to pursue their studies in the United Arab Emirates, and that affected persons had access to justice in the United Arab Emirates. 

Briefing the Committee on the meeting of chairs of human rights bodies, Ms. Edelenbos reminded that the thirtieth annual meeting of the chairs had taken place in New York from 28 May to 1 June 2018.  The meeting had focused on the alignment of working methods and other areas of implementation of resolution 68/268, as well as the preparations for the 2020 review of the treaty body system.  On the issue of engagement with civil society, Ms. Edelenbos urged the Committee to pay particular attention to the work of human rights defenders.  One of the outcomes of the chairs’ meeting had been the agreement of the chairs to propose the appointment of focal points in each treaty body to develop a common treaty body based position ahead of the 2020 review, and to explore further alignment of the simplified reporting procedure at the meeting next year.  Furthermore, the chairs had endorsed possible elements for a common aligned procedure for follow-up to concluding observations, decisions and views.  The chairs had also held a meeting with the Secretary-General who had expressed his strong support for treaty bodies.  His next report on treaty body strengthening would be an opportunity to raise various challenges faced by treaty bodies, including in terms of resources, Ms. Edelenbos concluded. 

On behalf of members of the Committee, Committee Chairperson Noureddine Amir thanked Ms. Edelenbos for her update and comments on the recent events, as well as for her work and cooperation with the Committee in light of her upcoming retirement.  Other Committee Experts also expressed their thanks to Ms. Edelenbos for her hard work and dedication over 27 years.  The Committee then adopted the programme of work and agenda of the session.


The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 7 August, at 10 a.m., to hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations from Montenegro, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and China whose reports it will review this week.


For use of the information media; not an official record 

CERD18.11E