26 September 2017
The Human Rights Council at its midday meeting held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Speakers expressed concern at what they termed a world-wide rise in racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. They called for compliance with and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was singled out as the international community’s best bulwark against the threats presented by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Some speakers underscored the particular dangers of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other religious-based discrimination, while others focused on discriminatory practices in general.
Speaking in the general debate were the delegations of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, China, Bangladesh, Brazil, Israel, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Greece, Russian Federation, Libya, Bahrain, Mexico, Ukraine, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations in a joint statement, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, European Centre for Law and Justice, Amuta for NGO Responsibility, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, World Jewish Congress, Iraqi Development Organization, Alsalam Foundation, The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, United Schools International, Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, World Muslim Congress, World Environment and Resources Council, Indian Council of South America, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Centre for Environment and Management Studies, Prahar, Liberation, European Union of Public Relations, Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA, Association pour l’intégration et le développement durable au Burundi, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, United Nations Watch, Center for Organisation Research and Education, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale OCAPROCE Internationale, VAAGDHARA, World Barua Organization, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International-Lawyers.Org, International Buddhist Relief Organization, ABC Tamil Oli, ANAJA (Lord replied), Association culturelle des Tamouls en France, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique, Association for the Victimes of the World, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, LE PONT, Alliance Creative Community Project, L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tamil Uzhagam, Association Threndral, Tourner la page, Association of World Citizens, International Educational Development Inc., Africa Culture International, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Servas International, The Next Century Foundation, Sikh Human Rights Group, Meezaan Centre for Human Rights; and Stichting International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service.
Russian Federation, China, Cuba, Azerbaijan and Armenia spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
At 3 p.m., the Council will hear an oral presentation on the human rights situation in Ukraine by Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, followed by an interactive discussion. Time permitting, it will then hear the presentation of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by an enhanced dialogue.
General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the importance of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and its outcome document, which represented a cornerstone in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The various types of racism and other negative stereotypes on the basis of religion or belief continued to increase the world over. States should adopt effective measures to deal with and combat this.
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, raised concern at the resurgent manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was the only means to combat racism at the international level. It was action-oriented and implementable for addressing the scourges which manifested in hatred and violence. The international community needed to be guided by the ideas behind the International Decade for People of African Descent.
Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed concern at images of discriminatory practices within societies. Discriminatory practices had taken an institutional nature in many countries, which were proud of their civilised progress, pretending to uphold human rights values. The Arab Group believed that combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance could only be achieved by criminalizing those practices. The international community and the Human Rights Council must deploy efforts to combat racism around the world.
Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said when discrimination and xenophobia were on the rise, the international community needed to work on a more cohesive society overall. In the effort to promote a positive narrative, efforts should be made to tackle discrimination and incitement to hate crimes against migrants and refugees. Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were on the rise worldwide. The European Union was ready to exchange best practices with others.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, regretted that Muslim girls wearing the hijab were attacked in Europe. When a few governments in Europe passed discriminatory legislation banning hijab, why did it not raise eye brows? The Organization of Islamic Cooperation considered anti-hijab campaigns as a form of racism broadly covered under the word of “Islamophobia”.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, remained deeply concerned that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance continued to manifest themselves in inequality and disadvantage against people of African descent. The group of countries reaffirmed the commitments contained in the Declaration of the Latin America Regional Conference on the International Decade of People of African Descent.
Iraq said that Iraqi legislation stipulated equality among all members of society and firmly condemned any forms of discrimination, religious hatred and violence. Iraq had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. A law on the protection of diversity had recently been adopted. Plurality was the source of the strength and community of Iraq. Iraq would take any possible measures to fight discrimination in conformity with its Constitution and laws.
Cuba said that despite the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, racism and xenophobia still prevailed. In many countries, selective patterns and acts of discrimination continued to be committed by security and police services against people of African descent. Hate speech persisted as well as xenophobia on the part of civil servants and officials. Cuba had made significant efforts to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and promote policies to maintain a constant vigilance to eliminate racist practices.
Venezuela reiterated its commitment to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the review programmes strengthened that fight, and improved the resources available for victims. The increase in racist demonstrations, hate speech and discrimination which had led to the death of millions was lamentable and regrettable. Many people of African descent in the north suffered police violence and a lack of opportunities, due to belonging to a specific ethnic group. Venezuela reiterated its support for non-discrimination, and guaranteed inter-culturalism at all moments.
Ecuador said discrimination continued to be a social concern in many parts of the world, with hate speech based on xenophobia being observed. It was important to ensure that the principles of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action remained in force. The securitization of human rights needed to be avoided. It was one of the highest responsibilities of States to ensure that State practices were in line with respect for diversity and other human rights. Ecuador promoted a high level of participation. Respect for difference was the cornerstone of democracy.
China said the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was a milestone document of the international community in its fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In some countries, racism was still very serious, with neo-Nazi forces on the rise. Some media disseminated hate speech, causing increased confrontation among different ethnic groups. Refugees and migrants were marginalized in social life, and police violence was seen against ethnic minorities.
Bangladesh said it was worrisome that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and religious profiling challenged fundamental human rights and had become the new normal. The attention of the Human Rights Council was drawn to the situation of the Rohingya population in Myanmar. Decades of systematic deprivation and discrimination perpetrated on that minority population had led to deep-rooted hatred in Myanmar. Unless those hate-merchants were brought to justice, this textbook case of ethnic cleansing would continue until the complete extermination of the Rohingya population was attained.
Brazil stressed that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action acknowledged that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance revealed themselves in a differentiated manner for women and girls. Multiple and reinforcing forms of discrimination were the main factors leading to a deterioration in their living conditions, poverty, violence and the limitation or denial of their human rights. It was therefore crucial to integrate a gender perspective into public policies against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Israel was concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in many countries and the worrying growth in hate speech, holocaust denial, physical assault on Jews and desecration of memorial and synagogues. It was important to highlight that many of those despicable actions found no reactions from governments and parliaments. Education played a key role to put an end to this trend.
Pakistan believed in equality of human kind and was committed to ensure a life full of hope for all. Religious festivals were celebrated at the State level in Pakistan and a 5 per cent quota had been given for minorities to access the administration. Pakistan was concerned about contemporary forms of racism against Dalits in India.
Sierra Leone took note of the theme of the report of the Working Group notably, “Leaving no one behind : people of African descent and the Sustainable Development Goals”, and their provision of concrete recommendations as regards the challenges faced by people of African descent in various parts of the world. States should be urged to take these recommendations into account.
Greece said racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were on the rise, and the international community needed to respond. As racism posed a complex threat, Greece had taken several initiatives in different fields to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Greece had also invested in dealing with human trafficking, and proper training of civil servants was underway. Greece remained committed to taking continued targeted action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Russian Federation said the recent neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, United States, were deeply concerning. There continued to be a worsening situation in the European Union, with increasing ethnic and religious intolerance and phobia of migrants. For many years, the European Union had been condoning parades of neo-Nazis in Baltic countries. Neo-Nazism was therefore spreading throughout the continent.
Libya said hate speech often targeted migrants in particular. Such actions might hide behind the fig leaf of the right to free speech, but increased cooperation and effectiveness was required against it. Awareness-raising and training was needed against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance regardless of its origin.
Bahrain said there were still many racist discriminatory practices that hindered understanding and respect for others. Bahrain supported the policies carried out by some countries at the national level and called for continued good practices to raise awareness among populations to recognize the benefits of diversity. Bahrain condemned the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, Myanmar.
Mexico noted that contrary to expectations related to modern countries, racism, xenophobia and intolerance continued in many countries. Mexico was particularly concerned about the proliferation of xenophobic speech against vulnerable groups, particularly migrants, used as a political tool of manipulation. Cancelling the DACA programme in the United States would violate the right to access to education and work for thousands of people.
Ukraine was committed to establishing an efficient national system of preventing and combatting discrimination, including by adopting comprehensive and consistent legislation as well as awareness raising programmes for citizens. The temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation had deprived Crimean ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples of the right to be protected under Ukrainian law.
Turkey said that the world was facing by a pressing need to seriously address and take immediate action against the challenges presented by racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Turkey was deeply concerned about these phenomena, as well as anti-immigrant sentiments which were on the rise globally. Migrants were victims of unequal treatment, prejudice, stigmatization, violent attacks and adverse public discourse.
Iran stated that the Durban Declaration was an instructive document which constituted a solid foundation for the struggle against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. But the international community was still far behind the expectation of enforcing the provisions of that instrument. The situation of religious minorities, notably Muslims, in some Western countries was deteriorating alarmingly and they were increasingly facing biased intolerance.
Azerbaijan said that for centuries, representatives of all cultures, religions and ethnicities had lived as members of one family. As the people who had experienced ethnic cleansing and discrimination by Armenia, the Azerbaijanis understood the scourges of discrimination very well. There were no Azerbaijanis living in Armenia nowadays, whereas thousands of Armenians lived in Azerbaijan.
Armenia was concerned that the most recent discovery of money laundering by Azeri elites was blamed on the Armenian diaspora. What was that if not incitement of racism? It was particularly alarming when such accusations were encouraged by State leaders. United Nations mechanisms had repeatedly drew attention to Azerbaijan’s human rights failings, which should be under constant attention of the Council.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, noted that the Durban Declaration was an indispensable tool for fighting racism and racial discrimination. It reminded that the General Assembly had called on the Human Rights Council to conduct a programme in order to inform the global public about the goals of the Durban Declaration. The reactivation of the Trust Fund was essential for the reigniting the fight against racism.
International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism expressed concern at the rise in racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance which was the result of failing to take action against hate speech. The situation in the United States, United Kingdom, and Republic of Korea was mentioned. The full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination was necessary for the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
European Centre for Law and Justice spoke about prenatal testing. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action prevented genetic research from being used for discriminatory or racist purposes. Some countries such as Iceland were on the verge of eradicating all Down Syndrome births, which was a new form of eugenics. The Human Rights Council needed to recognize the dignity of every person before the medical profession eradicated an innocent group of children.
Amuta for NGO Responsibility said the Durban Conference had turned into a forum for hatred. The singling out of one country continued, particularly by some non-governmental organizations. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action embodied anti-Semitism, and the funders of non-governmental organizations shared moral responsibility for funding them. There was no room for anti-Semitism in the human rights architecture.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture asked the Human Rights Council to work quickly to stop Israeli violations against Palestinian people. Discrimination of the Zionist entity was a crime against humanity. Several laws were discriminatory against Palestinians, such as the Law of Return. Palestinians were not allowed to build or renovate on some land while Israeli settlers were allowed to do so.
World Jewish Congress drew attention to the spike in anti-Semitism rising from ignorance and fear, and attacks on Jewish families in France. Anti-Semitic violence was running rampant in France. Jewish citizens in France had to be accorded with appropriate protection.
Iraqi Development Organization called on Member States to investigate all actions targeting freedom of belief in Yemen that had been enabled by a culture of extreme intolerance accompanying the Saudi coalition war. An international commission of inquiry should be set up to investigate incidents in which people of various religious faiths had been targeted.
Alsalam Foundation alerted the Human Rights Council not to overlook the implementation of the Durban Declaration, noting that in Bahrain the Shia were particularly discriminated against. The largest Shia organization had been dissolved, and many were not allowed to hold Bahraini nationality due to their religion.
The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd noted that there had never been a more sinister ideology and practice in the history of colonial movements than that which was applied consistently on the Palestinian people for one hundred years by Zionism and Israel. There was not a single Palestinian in the past, at present and like in the future who was not a victim of vicious, continuous and unchecked Israeli racism.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. remained concerned about the lack of respect of some Member States for the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, such as Saudi Arabia, where some faced a disproportionate lack of services. The Government had evicted thousands of Shi’a residents. The military operation included use of indiscriminate force. Government forces used artillery against various areas of the neighbourhood.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said Muslims were victims of serious crimes documented in Kashmir, and the Indian State was carrying out policies against them. In Yemen, there was discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, and the followers of the Houthi group were not given government posts. Imams could only preach if they were supporters of the Government.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said there was Shi’a-phobia in the Middle East. In June, terrorist attacks in Tehran had killed dozens of people. Terror attacks were condemned by international human rights law. Some States were triggering Shi’a phobia. The Human Rights Council should study best practices of preventing hate crimes, and the relevant Special Rapporteur was asked to pay special attention.
African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters asked why the regional conference for Europe and North America for the International Decade for People of African Descent could not be hosted by a Member State with all the resources and capacities that existed in the region concerned. It was time for the Human Rights Council to give priority to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik called attention to the discrimination experienced by migrant children in Iran. Many of them were not able to pay for their school costs and many were not allowed to enrol. There was no sign that Iran would consider ratification of the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
United Schools International regretted that many factors still gave rise to discrimination in the modern world. It was no secret that intolerance and bigotry had been a hallmark of Pakistan in recent years. Ahmadis in Pakistan faced multiple levels of racial discrimination, and they were not adequately protected from attacks by extreme religious groups.
Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme stated that racism, hatred, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism were poisoning society. The Arab region had been targeted by wars, and countries had been robbed of their natural sources. The hate of Shia was also widespread.
International Association for Democracy in Africa noted that Pakistan followed none of the international tenets on racial discrimination, and the glaring example of that was the racial discrimination against the Shia in Pakistan. They faced systemic and organised attacks by State patronised extremist groups.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology said there had been a growth of xenophobia and defamation of religion. The trend was evident in Pakistan, which had become the anti-thesis of a democratic regime. The plight of Christians had been going on since the 1980s, with sentences of blasphemy often amounting to a death sentence.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme reiterated the importance of effective follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The duty to remember was a collective responsibility, and everyone needed to work to make the Decade for People of African Descent a decade of justice, moral reparation and tolerance. Member States and civil society were urged to combat all manifestations of racism in the world.
Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation said Tamil women and girls in Sri Lanka were discriminated against both on the basis of gender and ethnicity. The ongoing occupation of the north-east meant they continued to be vulnerable to abuse by Sri Lankan forces. Some women were forced to engage in sexual activities with members of the military, and both men and women were tortured for being Tamil.
World Muslim Congress expressed concern at forced conversions in India. There had been “cow-terror” attacks which included mob lynching and murder, assault and gang-rape. Kashmiri Muslims were facing an existential crisis. Right-wing Hindu extremists were bent on turning India into a Hindu state, and elements involved in hate speech and incitement of violence against religious minorities were now ruling the country.
World Environment and Resources Council stated that the people of Baluchistan in Pakistan were subject to institutional discrimination and grave human rights violations. Despite having vast natural resources, Baluchistan remained one of Pakistan’s poorest provinces. Pakistan had failed to address the rights of people affected by discrimination based on origin and descent.
Indian Council of South America noted that the Mapuche people in Chile had been victims of land grabbing and robbery of their natural resources. In Bolivia the indigenous Urus were on the verge of extinction due to the lack of water. In the United States Leonardo Peltier had been political prisoner of the Government for 40 years because of his defence of indigenous rights.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee stated that the people of the province of Assam in India were affected by racial discrimination. The people of Assam were looked down upon when trying to get job opportunities and education. That discriminatory attitude had its roots in the Indian caste system.
Centre for Environmental and Management Studies drew attention to the use of false blasphemy charges against religious minorities in Pakistan. Blasphemy laws were often used to settle personal scores, and Islamist groups and lawyers advocating the harshest punishments often applied pressure for convictions on police and courts.
Prahar said the Committee on Racial Discrimination had recommended that India should repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Most human rights violations, especially in Assam, were caused by the negligence of the Government. Political parties had addressed the severe issue. Because of illegal migration, people in some areas had become minorities in their own areas.
Liberation said racial discrimination was deep-rooted in Indian society and students were most affected as they were deprived of a fair chance to compete against their peers from other areas of India. Students faced atrocities in their daily life. One student at Delhi University had committed suicide. The Government claimed it had taken measures, but it was taking too long. The Human Rights Council was asked to communicate with India.
European Union of Public Relations said people had disappeared or been killed in different areas of Baluchistan, and Pakistani forces had killed hundreds of people during military operations. More than 5,000 persons had been victims of extrajudicial executions.
Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum said jihadi terrorism had become more complex and widespread. The international community had allowed Wahhabi/Salafi ideology to continue to spend tens of billions of dollars to Wahabise the world Muslim community. Muslims needed to make revolutionary changes to bring consensus theology in line with the needs of present times.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said that in light of the Durban Declaration, it drew attention to the problem in north-east of India regarding the Armed Special Forces Act. That law was a racist one, but India had not repealed it despite continued calls by relevant committees. The Government continued to impose racist laws in its north-eastern provinces.
Association pour l’intégration et le développement durable au Burundi stated that despite efforts of the international community, caste-based discrimination persisted in India. It also continued in Indian diaspora with the emigration of higher caste Indians. Millions of people in India were still treated as “untouchables.”
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development noted that underdevelopment, marginalisation, social exclusion and economic disparities were closely associated with racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, and contributed to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices, which in turn generated more poverty.
United Nations Watch rejected all of the hypocrisy heard in the Council, noting that the Council should first examine its own members, such as China which oppressed its Muslim minority. In Saudi Arabia women were denied the most basic human rights. Qatar practiced discrimination against persons with disabilities and gay persons. Pakistan persecuted minority Muslim groups, while Venezuela oppressed journalists, students and dissidents, aided by its ally Cuba.
Centre for Organization Research and Education drew the attention of the Council to the discrimination faced by Indian Christians in the north east of the country. The number of prosecutions of Christians by Hindu extremists had significantly increased in these states. It was particularly alarming since the north eastern states already experienced severe economic difficulties. The Council was called on to ensure the protection of religious rights in India.
Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale OCAPROCE Internationale was concerned that in Yemen, since the coup d’Etat committed by the Houthis, various human rights violations had been committed on the basis of distinctions made between religions. The militias had deported Yemenis who were members of the “Salem” family in the province of Saada.
VAAGHARA was concerned about the situation of human rights in the states of north eastern India. In these states, people had different languages and origins but faced draconian laws imposed by the State of India. People suffered multiple forms of racial discrimination committed by the Indian security forces. Vaaghara urged the Council to communicate with India to combat racial discrimination.
World Barua Organization said caste-based discrimination continued to affect millions of people worldwide. In spite of preventive legal frameworks, the caste mind-set had not been uprooted in India. The Dalit community was suffering, and the Human Rights Council needed to make instruments more inclusive, to help in fighting caste-based discrimination.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said the rise of racism and xenophobia was shaking the foundations of Western democracies. Minorities were easy scape-goats, and anti-Muslim rhetoric was ramped up. The most vulnerable in the society were targeted, and people of Middle Eastern descent faced discrimination. All Member States were called on to implement measures called for in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
International-Lawyers.Org said the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was the most comprehensive document for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. But it had not received due consideration in some contexts. Certain Member States had raised political obstacles to its full implementation.
International Buddhist Relief Organization stated that recently there was a shortage of blood in north-east Sri Lanka. The army was the first to provide support. The allegations of discrimination against the Tamils in Sri Lanka had been fabricated by a select few, mostly living abroad. The Singhalese, Tamils and Muslims wanted to live together.
ABC Tamil Oli noted that the Tamils in Sri Lanka were suffering from systematic discrimination. The Sri Lankan military had several high security zones in Tamil lands, and there was one Singhalese soldier per six Tamils in the north-east of the island. The organization called on the Government to withdraw all its armed forces from the Tamil lands.
ANAJA (Lord replied) reminded of the massacre of Tamil children in Sri Lanka on 14 August 2006 and of other attacks committed by Sri Lankan military forces. The organization called on the Council to allow the Tamils to conduct a self-determination referendum.
Association culturelle des Tamouls en France drew attention to the discrimination and violence against the Tamils in Sri Lanka, who had faced decades of political violence and disenfranchisement. The Tamils in that country wished to be granted their right to self-determination.
Association Bharati Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul was concerned that after 30 years of war, the victim communities in the north east of Sri Lanka continued to face various challenges. The women headed households and war widows especially experienced socio-economic and physical vulnerabilities due to heavy militarization.
Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique stressed that the Government of Sri Lanka had still failed to repeal and replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act with counter-terrorism legislation in compliance with international standards. Despite pledging to repeal the law in the Human Rights Council, the Government of Sri Lanka continued to utilize this piece of legislation to discriminate and marginalize the Tamils.
Association for Victims of the World was concerned about the continuing patterns of religious violations and intolerance towards religious minorities that proved that ethnic communities did not have the right to their chosen faith without hindrance. It was of great concern that on March 2010, the Sinhala military demolished the memorial pillar of Thileepan.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France said Sri Lanka was a party to seven treaties on human rights. The first article of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination defined racism, but the Tamils were still fighting to gain their equal rights. The military forces of Sri Lanka had been in the territory since 1945. Many Tamil civilians had been detained without any charges.
LE PONT said Sri Lanka was party to all seven core human rights treaties. Successive governments had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, but the Tamil nation was struggling for its freedom. The Government of Sri Lanka was called on to reaffirm the principles of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Alliance Creative Community Project said Sri Lanka was party to all seven core human rights treaties and had ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination in 1982 while in the middle of the war against the Tamils. The Tamils were still struggling for equal opportunities. The present Government had detained numerous Tamil civilians without filing any charges against them.
Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie stated that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka had resulted in illegal and arbitrary arrests and detention, abductions and enforced disappearances, rape and torture in custody, extrajudicial killings and internal displacement of the Tamil communities.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment drew attention to the illegal occupation of the Sri Lankan military in the north and east of the island, which was against the considerations and reaffirmations of the Durban Declaration. The military presence interfered in economic activities, education and cultural events of the Tamils.
Tamil Uzhagam reminded that the Tamils had been completely deprived of their basic rights by the racist Singhalese Government and subjected to genocide. They had the inalienable right to self-determination which should be guaranteed by the United Nations.
Association Thendral was concerned that the north east of Sri Lanka remained a disproportionately heavily militarized region with five of seven Sri Lankan security force headquarters located in the two provinces of the region. In 2014, there were a reported 160,000 troops stationed in the north east. The involvement of the military in civilian activities had created an inhospitable environment.
Tourner la page stressed that successive Sri Lankan Governments had continually violated the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The current Government had continued the trend. Ealam Tamils continued to suffer discrimination despite the defeat of the Tamil Tiger Freedom Fighters. The end of the conflict had opened the door for the Government to put in place policies discriminating against the Tamils.
Association of World Citizens expressed concerns that refugees and migrants were increasingly exposed to discrimination and acts of violence. They risked to be marginalized with no possibilities to defend themselves. The rising trend of hatred speeches was also of great concern. The international community should respond to the growing phenomena of global movements by ensuring protection guarantees.
International Educational Development Inc. said there were no agreed-upon elements to define “racist regimes” in the context of Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions or generally in international law. The Hmong situation was dramatically different from that of other ethnic groups in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and it was hoped that the Special Rapporteur on racism would respond to the Hmong crisis.
Africa Culture International said racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance could have a destructive impact on society. But the Islamic State continued to foment racism against the Baluch people. Religious terrorist organizations like Mullah Mansur were roaming freely in Baluchistan and that was a sign of the strategic policy towards the Baloch people.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” said the root causes of racism were not receding in the confrontations between cultures. They lay in the system and in colonialism as well as neo-colonialism. The scourge of racism was omnipresent in all countries of the world.
Servas International reminded that the Durban Declaration had recognized that xenophobia against non-nationals and migrants constituted one of the main sources of contemporary racism. Legal mechanisms to protect migrants’ rights existed, but they were not sufficient without effective national action plans. The source of the current global migrant crisis lay in the unbearable situation in the countries from which migrants fled.
The Next Century Foundation noted that discrimination against women was a particularly urgent issue. Such discrimination deeply affected countries, harming their culture, values, economy, and political and social identity. In that regard, Arab States should follow the example of Bahrain, with its recent introduction of the Unified Family Law.
Sikh Human Rights Group said that despite considerable progress, racist attitudes were still widely pervasive. Incitement to racism should be examined with greater scrutiny, and the United Nations should consider a declaration on diversity, as there were very few mono-ethnic countries.
Meezaan Centre for Human Rights noted that since the establishment of the State of Israel, Palestinian lands had been continually confiscated. The Palestinian minority still faced discrimination policies such as the refusal by Israel to let them build new dwellings units. The Israeli settlers had been allowed to build new buildings, forcing Palestinians to build their own houses without permits. Israel was called on to put an end to all these violations.
Stichting International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service stressed that several plants such as iowaska were of utmost importance for indigenous peoples. Nonetheless increasing pressure was exerted by oil and mining companies, restricting access to these plants. Iowaska was a fundamental component of medical practices to cure mental and physical diseases. It was necessary to legalize and legitimize it.
Right of Reply
Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, said that it wished to address the unfounded accusations made by Ukraine. That country should focus on its domestic issues and implement the conclusions and recommendations of the international monitoring mechanisms, including the monitoring mission of the United Nations in Ukraine. After establishing order in its own country, Ukraine could then make political accusations against other countries. All of the obligations of the Russian Federation under the main international human rights treaties applied to its entire territory, including the Republic of Crimea and Sebastopol. Any information which was deserving of attention on alleged violations of human rights and freedoms were verified by the relevant bodies.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said it refuted groundless accusations on China’s ethnic minority policies made by non-governmental organizations. China’s constitution provided that all ethnic groups were equal and protected minorities’ legitimate rights and interests. Discrimination or oppression of any ethnic group was prohibited. The Chinese Government protected equally all ethnic groups. The Chinese Government protected the freedom of belief of Muslims and facilitated pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims. There was beneficial social development to all in Xinjiang. Some non-governmental organizations in disregard of facts fabricated rumours to incite confrontation among ethnic groups. Their ill intentions would not succeed.
Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, reiterated its commitment to condemn all forms of discriminations. This principle was clearly enshrined in its laws and international commitments. It had demonstrated it with specific actions. Despite the economic blockade imposed more than 55 years ago, Cuba had shown solidarity to many populations in the world. Cuba had made contributions to independence and justice in Africa and had fought against the racist South African apartheid regime. What other country could have demonstrated such solidarity with Africa?
Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement made by Armenia in the general debate, rejected the information provided by Armenia. Contrary to the arguments that had been raised, Azerbaijan had opened its doors to all wishing to visit Azerbaijan and many had done so and had seen how the heritage of Armenians in Azerbaijan was preserved and how more than 100,000 Armenians were living in peace and dignity in the country. How many Azerbaijanis were now living in Armenia?
Armenia, speaking in a right of reply, stated that after the outbreak of violence in Azerbaijan, over half a million Armenians had left the country. A Russian blogger was recently sentenced and his life was under threat in Azerbaijan, revealing the xenophobic behaviour of the Azerbaijani Government. Also, the European Parliament had called for an investigation concerning cases of corruption in the Azerbaijani Government and the transfer of funds to the Hungarian Government. The mandate holders and human rights defenders were called upon to examine this matter.
Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, stated that never had half a million Armenians lived in Azerbaijan and reiterated his question about how many Azerbaijanis lived in Armenia. The answer was zero, showing the real rate of ethnic cleansing. The mentioned case of a blogger was a citizen of Russia and Israel and it was a legal case, so Armenia had no reason to interfere. The above mentioned journalists also stated he made a mistake and apologized to the President of Azerbaijan.
Armenia, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the allegations made by Azerbaijan, underlining that the 30,000 Armenians that they said lived in Azerbaijan was contradicted with their own census. One body had stated that only 306 Armenians were living in Azerbaijan according to the 2009 census. As for accusations of so-called ethnic cleansing, they were completely false and ungrounded.
1Joint statement on behalf of: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs; African Development Association; Association Dunenyo; International Committee for the Respect and the Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights; African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters; Espace Afrique International; Global Action on Aging; Indian Movement "Tupaj Amaru"; International Association Against Torture; International Association of Democratic Lawyers; International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic & Other Minorities; International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; International-Lawyers.Org; iuventum e.V.; Liberation; Tiye International; and Servas International.
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