Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Presents Oral Update on the Implementation of the Programme of Activities within the Framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent
25 September 2018
The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, after hearing an oral update by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of the programme of activities within the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent.
Nathalie Prouvez, Officer in Charge of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the Office of the High Commissioner continued to work closely with stakeholders at the national, regional and international level to promote the International Decade for People of African Descent and the rights of people of African descent. In Canada, the International Decade was launched and endorsed officially by the Prime Minister. During the first African Union-United Nations High- Level Dialogue on Human Rights in Addis Ababa, the Decade was launched in the African continent. The Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Decade this year focused on racial profiling encountered by people of African descent. The Office was waiting for further guidance from the Council and the General Assembly on modalities of the Forum for People of African Descent. The Office had closely followed discussions on the draft declaration on the promotion and full respect of people of African descent during the recent session of the Working Group. The message was clear, there was a need for such a declaration and the Decade was the right framework, so the Office was ready to support this important standard setting exercise.
During the general debate, speakers voiced concern that 15 years after the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, in many regions of the world, the situation for people of African descent, minorities, refugees and migrants remained alarming. In many places, practices of hate, racism, xenophobia and intolerance were institutionalized due to the resurgence of extremism, nationalism and populism. It was the Council’s responsibility and that of the international community to put racial discrimination and racism to an end. All States were urged to sign and implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as to introduce counteractive measures for combatting extremism.
Speaking were Togo on behalf of the African Group, Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Venezuela on behalf of a Non-Aligned Movement, Austria on behalf of the European Union, Brazil, Qatar, Togo, Egypt, Pakistan, China, Cuba, Ukraine, Venezuela, South Africa, Nigeria, Tunisia, Iceland, France, State of Palestine, Libya, Russia, Syrian Arab Republic, Iran, Albania, Greece, Belarus, Turkey, Armenia, and Bangladesh.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (in a joint statement with severals NGOs1), International Humanist and Ethical Union, International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva, Sikh Human Rights Group, International Council of Russian Compatriots (ICRC), International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), International Buddhist Relief Organisation , Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA), Liberation, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, New Human Rigths Cameroon, United Schools International, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, International-Lawyers.Org, Association of World Citizens, Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Iraqi Development Organization, Alsalam Foundation, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, World Environment and Resources Council, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Prahar, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, VAAGDHARA, Ius Primi Viri International Association, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, World Barua Organization, Global Welfare Association, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Center for Environmental and Management Studies, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, European Union of Public Relations, African Green Foundation International, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP), International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) , Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tourner la page, Association Thendral, Le Pont, Tamil Uzhagam, ABC Tamil Oli, Association culturelle des Tamouls en France, International Solidarity for Africa, Action of Human Movement (AHM), L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, International Educational Development, Zero Poor in Africa, Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule, European Union of Jewish Students and Fraternite Notre Dame.
United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, China and Qatar spoke in a right of reply.
The Council will next hear the oral update of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine, followed by an interactive dialogue. It will also hear the presentation of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.
JUAN EDUARDO EGUIGUREN, Vice-President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, said that in its resolution 36/24, the Council requested the High Commissioner in her capacity as coordinator of the International Decade for People of African Descent to submit an oral update on activities of the Office of the High Commissioner in follow-up to the implementation of the programme of activities within the framework of the Decade.
NATHALIE PROUVEZ, Officer in Charge of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting the oral update, said that the Office of the High Commissioner continued to work closely with stakeholders at the national, regional and international level to promote the International Decade for People of African Descent and the rights of people of African descent. In November and December 2017 the Office of the High Commissioner had organized two workshops on preventing and countering racial profiling in cooperation with the United Nations Country Team of Brazil and within the public information campaign “Vidas Negras”. In Canada the International Decade for People of African Descent was launched, endorsed officially by the Prime Minister, making it the first time that a Head of State had publicly voiced support for the Decade. In November 2017, the Office of the High Commissioner had organised the regional meeting for Europe, Central Asia and North America on the Decade in Geneva. An outcome document was adopted expressing concern at material progression of racial discrimination and the use of communication technologies to disseminate racial superiority ideas.
During the first African Union-United Nations High Level Dialogue on Human Rights in Addis Ababa, the Decade was launched in the African continent. Since then, the African Union and the Office of the High Commissioner had collaborated on a number of activities. The Department of Public Information was regularly updating the website for the International Decade and a booklet on women and girls of African descent had been published. The Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Decade this year focused on racial profiling encountered by people of African descent. The Office was waiting for further guidance from the Council and the General Assembly on modalities of the Forum for People of African Descent. The Office had closely followed discussions on the draft declaration on the promotion and full respect of people of African descent during the recent session of the Working Group. The message was clear, there was a need for such a declaration and the Decade was the right framework, so the Office was ready to support this important standard setting exercise.
General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance
Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, voiced concern that in many regions of the world, the situation for people of African descent, minorities, refugees and migrants remained alarming. The African Group had observed in the past several years a rise in manifestations of hate, racism, xenophobia and intolerance due to the resurgence of extremism, nationalism and populism based on ideologies that were morally wrong, socially unjust and dangerous.
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, reminded that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights assured the dignity of all human beings. Nevertheless, many societies suffered from racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, particularly when it came to refugees and people of African descent, leading to conflicts. In many places those practices were institutionalized. They should be criminalized by punishing perpetrators. It was the responsibility of the Human Rights Council and of the international community to eliminate racism across the world.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stated that resolution 16/18 on combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of persons based on religion or belief was an important milestone to combat violence on the basis of religion. It indeed provided an action plan for States to combat the ever-increasing instances of xenophobia, Islamophobia, intolerance and stigmatization all over the world. The organization was concerned about increased incidents of anti-Muslim attacks and sentiments.
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, categorically rejected all forms of racism and reiterated the importance of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which constituted a solid basis for combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Non-Aligned Movement condemned all acts of prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and sectarian profiling. It called on all States to respect the commitments made in the Durban documents.
Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union was fully committed to the total elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia within its borders but also in the world. Fear-based policies were creating a climate of crisis, entrenching divisions and compounding the suffering of the most vulnerable. Countering xenophobia was a priority for all and it required a joint effort. It was the European Union’s duty to show political leadership.
Brazil said that at the national level, Brazil had recently held its fourth National Conference for the Promotion of Racial Equality, with the theme Brazil in the decade of Afro-descendants: recognition, justice and development. Globally, the importance of the Council’s resolution 38/19 on incompatibility between democracy and racism was highlighted. Migration flows were often as an excuse to racist and xenophobic attitudes.
Qatar said that the verdict of the International Court of Justice validated concerns on discriminatory acts, which were committed by countries that were conducting a siege against Qatar. A report had been prepared on the impact of the blockade on the enjoyment of human rights in Qatar, showing the blockade was made up of discriminatory and coercive measures.
Togo said that 15 years after the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, racism and xenophobia were particularly spread against people of African descent. Despite all lessons learned over the years, those people were denied their fundamental rights and stigmatized, despite all the contributions they made. Full implementation of the programme of activities envisaged under the International Decade was necessary.
Egypt expressed concern about the continued racial discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and discrimination against asylum seekers. Egypt pointed out to the failure to respect international commitments by the European Union, including proposed amendments to the law on asylum seekers, and cases of separation of children in Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom. Egypt called on France and the United Kingdom to respect human rights when combatting terrorism.
Pakistan reiterated its concern about the upsurge of new and contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Despite the commitment to democracy and human rights, historical wrongs had not been righted. For example, in Australia indigenous peoples made up about 30 per cent of the northern territory, but more than 80 per cent of the prison population. The international community had to address the underlying causes of the problems witnessed nowadays.
China stated that racism was a common enemy of mankind. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was an important document to combat racism and xenophobia. Despite some progress made in its implementation, in some countries racism and xenophobia remained a serious problem, with increased attacks on migrants. China called on all countries to effectively implement the Durban Declaration, to implement a policy of zero tolerance for racism, and to take economic and social measures to tackle racism at its root.
Cuba reiterated the relevance of what had been agreed at the historic World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance. It noted with concern the rise in developed countries of racist manifestations, such as neo-Nazism and anti-migrant sentiments. The Cuban Revolution had been fighting against racism and for the right to equality for the past 60 years. Some 40.6 per cent of parliamentary deputies in Cuba were black or mixed-race.
Ukraine said it remained firmly committed to eliminating all forms of racial discrimination both within its borders and throughout the world. Ukraine emphasized that Russia must fully implement the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the context of Ukraine’s lawsuit against the Russian Federation. Ukraine also drew attention to the continuing repression, harassment and intimidation of Ukrainian citizens living in the territories temporarily occupied by Russia.
Venezuela regretted the surge in racist and xenophobic manifestations and messages of hate and discrimination that had led millions of people to suffer acts of violence, even death. As an example, Venezuela pointed to the discrimination faced by people of African descent in northern countries, particularly the lack of justice, high rates of incarceration as well as a lack of economic opportunities. Venezuela also bemoaned the resurgence of neo-Nazi groups in many countries around the world which highlighted the need for strict laws and policies to combat this discourse of racism and xenophobia.
South Africa recalled the seminal role that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had played in South Africa’s own struggle against racist and oppressive dispensation. South Africa reminded the Council that throughout this year, it had highlighted how Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy continued to serve as an example of how best to manage diversity and promote tolerance amongst humanity. South Africa proposed that the best way to honour Mr. Mandela would be through action: not by being outraged by the rise of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance but by finding ways to transcend division.
Nigeria reiterated its condemnation of all forms of racism and xenophobia, especially against people of African descent, who continued to face obstacles and discrimination around the world. Nigeria remained deeply worried about the recent upsurge of nationalist populism and racist extremism which posed a great challenge to combatting intolerance. Nigeria called on the global community to put in place laws and policies against racism and discrimination, as well as vigorously implement these laws. Nigeria highlighted the importance of strong international cooperation towards ending xenophobia and racism to ensure a peaceful and just society.
Tunisia said that the resurgence of racial intolerance and extremism had raised new challenges for the international community. Efforts at the national and international level had to be intensified to combat this problem and implement articles provided in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, to put racial discrimination to an end. Tunisia was a pioneer in combatting discrimination, having adopted appropriate legislation a long time ago.
Iceland was concerned about the increase of hate speech across the world, in political discourse, the media and online. In Europe, pundits and online trolls had followed the lead of those trying to influence elections in the United States by spreading misinformation and hate against migrants and different races and religions. It was essential to work towards the full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
France was concerned about the rise of nationalist discourse. All States were urged to condemn such discourse and it was the responsibility of States to protect and promote human rights since any person promoting hate speech was committing a human rights violation. France had adopted an action plan to combat racism and anti-Semitism for the period 2018-2020.
State of Palestine said that since its creation, Israel had employed an intricate set of policies and practices with the aim of maintaining a colonial occupation and a Jewish demographic majority by displacing and replacing Palestinians. The latest discriminatory measure taken by Israel was the passing of the Jewish nation State law that aimed to legitimize institutional discrimination against its Arab Palestinian citizens.
Libya supported a united policy based on partnership, including civil society and local communities, to prevent racist extremism. Libya expressed a shared concern regarding racist acts over the last few years based on stereotypes and the incitement to violence. Libya emphasized that Islam was a great religion of peace and tolerance, and called on the Human Rights Council not to associate Islam with extremism. Libya called on States to ensure that all expressions of racism were punished.
Russian Federation drew attention to the fact that 73 years had passed since the end of the Second World War. Russia said that the bloody lessons of this tragedy should have put an end to racism and xenophobia. However, Russia expressed concern that xenophobia was flourishing and neo-Nazis were being legitimized by Governments. Russia condemned the West for trying to rewrite the outcomes of the Second World War, and the inaction of the European Union regarding what was happening in Poland and the Balkans where nationalism and xenophobia had increased.
Syria was concerned about the surge of manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, including in regions under foreign occupation. Attempts by Israel, an occupying force, to stop the collective identity of Palestinians was condemned. This went against international law. The Law on the Jewish nation State went against all ideas of freedom and it introduced an apartheid State.
Iran said despite international efforts, people across the globe were still suffering from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance. Intolerance against migrants, particularly in European countries and the United States, was worrying and had to be stopped in time. Israel’s law on the Jewish nation State was introducing a State of racial discrimination and it had to be stopped by the international community.
Albania said there was an unprecedented rise of racism and intolerance, particularly against vulnerable groups. Stressing the need for education and a teaching culture, religion and arts in accordance with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action were a good counteractive measure to combat extremism. Albania had put in place such programmes in schools, ensuring not to jeopardize secularism in the country.
Greece firmly stood against racism and racial discrimination which were in clear and direct clash to the universal values that human rights embodied. This aggression on shared values required the formulation of a multifaceted response on a global, regional and national level. To that end, Greece participated in global and regional initiatives aiming to further efforts to prevent and counter racism and xenophobia
Belarus was concerned about the rise in manifestations of violent extremism, including attempts to falsify history and the Second World War and glorify Nazism. This deserved the reaction of the United Nations and profound condemning of aggressive nationalist ideologies. Young generations needed to be brought up in a spirit of peace and tolerance.
Turkey lamented that the common struggle against racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia was more pertinent than ever. Turkey remained highly concerned about these, as well as rising anti-immigrant sentiments, particularly in Western Europe. These scourges had dangerously evolved into serious and concrete threats to global peace and social harmony. Turkey called on the international community to protect the dignity of individuals and their right to be free from discrimination.
Armenia emphasized that the most dangerous form of discrimination was the institutionalization of racism through openly encouraging violence against a minority. Armenia faced xenophobic and racist propaganda from Azerbaijan. Armenia expressed particular concern for the xenophobia among youth in Azerbaijan and the fundamental threats against Armenia’s freedom to go forward. Armenia reiterated its commitment to fight against all forms of xenophobia, racism and discrimination.
Bangladesh lamented that the world was still grossly deficient in intercultural understanding, tolerance and mutual respect. Bangladesh worried that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and Islamophobia had become the new normal. Bangladesh drew attention to the Muslim Rohingya population in northern Rakhine province of Myanmar, that had suffered systematic persecution and vilification. This worrying level of atrocities required immediate action.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, in a joint statement with severals NGOs1, wondered if Member States had given up on the battle against racism. They remained convinced that if a more genuine effort was made to engage the public on the content of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the world would be in a better position to defeat racism.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said that according to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, religion and race could be the cause of xenophobia. However, a large number of States had to be reminded that those beliefs also included atheism. In Afghanistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Yemen and other countries, atheism was punishable. It was even considered a form of terrorism and people were condemned to death because of it.
International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva expressed concern over the surge of violence in Tripoli. Efforts made to safeguard and protect Tripoli and make sure it did not fall into a civil war were welcomed. Still, bombardments were carried out and people had had to leave their homes. The international community was not doing anything to stop the situation.
Sikh Human Rights Group said at the World Conference against Racism in 2001, the proposition was made that racial parity was meaningless without cultural parity. A Declaration on Diversity would be a landmark ambition that would encourage States to proactively adopt policies and programmes that made the need for an adversarial route of fighting for rights a lesser necessity.
International Council of Russian Compatriots called on the United Nations leadership to help national minorities in Ukraine. The situation had deteriorated and there were 200 people held in detention without medical care. Russian speaking minorities were being prosecuted. There was a humanitarian crisis in Crimea and lack of electricity. The Council had to react as Ukraine was acting against the United Charter.
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism stressed that human rights defenders had been belittled by States and non-State actors, causing stigmatization and leaving them at great risk of reprisal and intimidation with little chance of remedy. It was the human rights defenders who played a crucial role in addressing racial discrimination, as envisaged under the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and the Council had to protect them.
International Buddhist Relief Organization said that in Sri Lanka, the Tamils were discriminating amongst themselves. The caste system, legalised by former colonialists, made matters worse. In modern times, the country’s supremacy could only be assured in the name of protecting the Tamils.
Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA) said that in Asia, racial profiling had been identified as a major hindrance for people of African descent in the enjoyment of their human rights. Women and girls of African descent had historically suffered discrimination; violent hate groups needed to be held accountable. National immigration policies and law enforcement policies should not discriminate against persons based on race.
Liberation said racism was beyond description, despite social and technological efforts. There was a huge burden placed on people living in north and east India. Domination over the indigenous groups living in that region was illegal and the Government had reserved only 20 per cent of state seats for them. They loved India but India did not love them. The rights of those indigenous peoples needed to be upheld.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said indigenous peoples had their own identity and culture, however majority populations imposed their faith on indigenous peoples, and their right to follow their faith was challenged by fundamentalists. They requested that the Council to take steps to prohibit racial discrimination and protect indigenous communities.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA emphasized the importance of all countries ratifying conventions and covenants that safeguarded human rights. The importance of countries respecting these conventions once ratified was also emphasized. Mbororo lamented that some countries disrespected these conventions outright. It drew attention to human rights violations that were ongoing in India.
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation reminded the Council that the fight against intolerance and discrimination remained at the heart of the organization. It expressed concern that its agents were finding evermore victims subjected to abusive conduct emanating from capital investors. These economically discriminatory acts had left many victims around the world. United Towns had a duty to ring the alarm and it was ready to provide more details on these ongoing abuses.
New Human Rigths Cameroon drew attention to the ongoing xenophobia directed towards the Baloch people of Pakistan. Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme condemned the State of Pakistan for its efforts to systematically implant its ideology on the Baloch people. It expressed concern that there were more than 1.8 million Baloch children out of school. Islamic terrorist organizations with Government backing were also said to have attacked Baloch women with acid, preventing them from attending school.
Union Schools International reiterated that all humans needed to fight against the violation of human rights. It urged the United Nations to stop killing of Baloch people in Pakistan, often only for their apparent religious dissident. Union Schools International condemned the genocide that had spread throughout Pakistan, particularly the murders of people fighting for religious freedom and equality. Union Schools International urged the international community to intervene as soon as possible.
Conseil International de Soutien à des Procès Equitables et aux Droits de l'Homme said that racial discrimination was running counter to human rights, and the international community and the United Nations had to react. In Kuwait, activists and human rights defenders were persecuted and harassed. It was regrettable to see that in all societies discrimination was gaining ground. Muslims were excluded in numerous places and it was impossible to enlist all countries anymore.
International-Lawyers.Org welcomed the continued presence of the issue of racism as an agenda item. After initial success achieved with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, racism was on the rise again, whether it was seen in blaming migrants at the borders or minorities. Both countries and individuals had to react as racism was only dividing humanity and society among itself. All States were urged to sign the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Association of World Citizens said that a new flag was needed to remind all that racism was always ill-placed, it was becoming the flag of Aquarius. The sum of all meetings were rich in lessons, particularly with the peoples of Africa who had brought the world so much. The flag could be a source of pride for European countries to remind of what had not been seen. There was a need to look back and preserve the idea that one could only save people if life was the victor, and not racism.
Pasumai Thaazagam Foundation drew the Council’s attention to the situation in Sri Lanka which was still experiencing many problems. The Council was called on to initiate an investigation on missing persons and to look into the cases of enforced disappearances. Tamils were the indigenous people in Sri Lanka and were entitled to rights under international law and regulations.
International Association for Democracy in Africa said Pakistan had turned into a pool of blood for ethnic and religious minorities as the country tried to erase their existence from earth. Pakistan was a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, but had never made an effort to implement it. Laws and programmes could help the social stagnation plaguing Pakistan.
Iraqi Development Organization, in a joint statement, spoke about discrimination that Yemenis had been subjected to, particularly in regions under Saudi control. Offensives by coalition forces had left more than 60 dead, 250 people displaced and the closing of the international airport. Hundreds of people were sick. People were missing and abducted by unidentified militia and those from the north or east of the country or belonging to a tribe were subjected to torture.
Alsalam Foundation said that Bahrain discriminated against the majority Shia population in nearly every facet of public life. The Government had moved to suppress Shia religious, social and cultural symbols and figures by targeting Shia leaders and clerics. They were arrested, detained and deported. The Foundation called on all States to uphold their commitments to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said racism had taken the form of cultural discrimination. Leaders from Balochistan had never been part of the subcontinent. The Baloch people voted against the accession with Pakistan but in 1948 their lands were seized by Pakistan. Pakistan considered the Baloch as inferior because they could not pronounce Urdhu. The Baloch were left behind and not treated as equals.
World Environment and Resources Council raised the deplorable state of minorities in Pakistan. Certain communities, particularly those from the north, had seen nothing but violence because of Pakistan’s efforts to retain the unity of the nation. They were victims of the drainage of their wealth and culture and relegated to the poorest corners of the economy.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology drew attention to the discrimination faced by Afghan refugees in Pakistan who were labelled as terrorists, and denied their basic rights. Afghan refugees living in Pakistan were living in constant fear of autocratic Pakistani authorities. Children of refugees were treated as outsiders, were not well treated in schools, and had no help from the Government.
Prahar lamented the fact that 18 years after the Durban Declaration, racism prevailed in many countries, and drew attention to the situation in India. Prahar condemned the discrimination faced by indigenous people in the north-east region of India. Illegal immigration had created a great challenge for indigenous people from this region. Prahar requested the Council to intervene and stop discrimination against indigenous people in this region.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence expressed concern at the large number of attacks perpetrated against Muslim people in Europe and the West, including numerous attacks against mosques and Muslims. There was particular concern for Germany, which had seen 1,000 attacks against Muslims and mosques in 2017. The Council was called on to set up a monitoring mechanism to assess Islamophobia and combat the Islamophobic trend.
Verein Sudwind Etwicklungspolitik said that racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance were not limited to people of African descent. Attention was brought to the plight of Afghan people who were subject to the same discrimination in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Women in particular lacked access to legal systems to submit complaints against those who violated their rights. Afghan citizens being arrested had become normal routine in Iran.
VAAGDHARA drew attention to the racial discrimination fomented by the caste system in India. In particular, VAAGDHARA highlighted the difficulties faced by students and young people from Tripura who must regularly overcome racial prejudice. It expressed concern that these students faced atrocities in their daily life because of their race. VAAGDHARA urged the Council to intervene and stop these human rights abuses in India.
IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association said that the Durban Declaration aimed to prevent racism, but racism was on the increase, including in Yemen, although Yemen had signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Houthis were practicing exile against other Yemenis. What could the Council do to limit those practices and promote equality in Yemen?
Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement durable au Burundi noted that progress in the implementation of the Durban Declaration was being achieved. However, there were some States that rejected the Durban Declaration. Such was the case of India, which failed to submit reports or claims. Caste violence continued in India in Rajastan. Casteism was a form of racism practised by the majority Brahman caste in India.
World Barua Organization said that racial discrimination in north-eastern states of India was deplorable. The Durban Declaration called for comprehensive national action plans to eradicate racism and racial discrimination. The Indian Government was violating the values of the Durban Declaration. People in the north-eastern states had a different language, social origin, religion, birth and other status but none of this mattered, as they all had to face the same draconian law in their native land and suffer at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces.
Global Welfare Association brought to the Council’s attention great injustice, which had been committed against the majority Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka. The Council had said that a settlement had to include the devolution of power to the northern province. However, it was Sinhalese people which were ethnically cleansed from the north. If more devolution of power occurred, the province would become mono-ethnic, which was never the case. The right to return of Sinhalese had to be upheld.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme was concerned about the multiplication of racist crimes in the United States. African Americans were increasingly poor and marginalised in American society and the majority of prisoners sentenced to death were black. They were also concerned that civil society was absent from the different sessions of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” said racial discrimination from Spanish colonialization, which spread despotism and bloodshed everywhere, was still present in the Americas. The colonisation had relegated the indigenous people to the status of animals. The Durban Conference defined the profound nature of that discrimination. Certain indigenous communities, however, were victims of persecution and were accused of terrorism.
Centre for Environmental and Management Studies said Pakistan was negligent as a nation. Pakistan had been an accomplice in the social tendency of oppression. The oppression of Shia had created a sharp divide recently. The recent surge in the number of insurgent cells validated the Pakistani agenda, from their perspective. There were also Pakistanis of African origin who were not considered citizens of equal stature; their legal and political rights were also denied.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre of Victims of Torture said the United Nations Economic and Social Council had blocked the advisory status of a Swiss non-governmental organization. They called the actions racist because the organization had gone on a mission to the south of Morocco although a report had been sent to Morocco commending the country on its efforts. They demanded that the report on that mission be sent to the committee of non-governmental organizations.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that the political leadership of Pakistan had used money to fund the events of militants that had nothing to do with the development of the nation. It was a deliberate attempt to keep all the power to itself rather than spread the values of peace, diversity and multiculturalism.
European Union of Public Relations noted that Pakistan had failed drastically in protect the basic rights of women in its territory. Women faced rape, abduction, murder and genital mutilation. Pakistan had signed the Beijing Declaration without any intention to improve the situation of women. The suffering of women was set aside.
African Green Foundation International voiced deep concern about the violations of the rights of the Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka. The chief minister of the northern province, a Tamil, had recently passed a resolution imposing a total ban on the building of Buddhist temples, while ancient Buddhist sites had been destroyed to prove that there had been no Sinhalese presence in the north-east of Sri Lanka.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) said it did not want a piece of paper, but equity for each country. Thus, there was a need for the reform of the United Nations Security Council. Could the international community be visionary enough to share that dream?
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) drew attention to the fact some of the worst crimes had been committed because of racism and hate speech instilling fear of minority populations, refugees and migrants. Why was that not a serious subject for the United Nations? The organization called on States to examine the root causes for the global problem of racism, and to fully implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment drew attention to the ethnic conflict ongoing in Sri Lanka, including forced disappearances, sexual assault in custody, extrajudicial killings, the internal displacement of Tamil communities, and massacres of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam members. Sri Lanka was condemned for taking measures to criminalize this group and eradicate the spread of nationalism among Tamil people.
Tourner La Page condemned the ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, including the bombing of the Chenchola orphanage in 2006, as well as the attacks against Sinhalese journalists. Tourner La Page lamented that the Sri Lankan Government had not allowed the Human Rights Council to visit the areas affected by these atrocities.
Association Thendral drew attention to the plight of political prisoners currently under prolonged detention in Sri Lanka under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Some of these prisoners inside Colombo Prison had recently begun a protest fast – on the third day of the hunger strike, one of the protesters was transferred to hospital. Association Thendral called on the Council to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to release all political prisoners and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Le Pont drew attention to the human rights abuses taking place in Sri Lanka. These included enforced disappearances by Sri Lankan security forces, through which children were deprived of family life by Sri Lankan forces. Le Pont lamented the increasing discrimination by Sri Lankan authorities against ethnic Tamils and called on the Council to demand that the Sri Lankan Government halt its use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act as a means of indiscriminate detention.
Tamil Uzhagam said Sri Lanka had done little to protect and promote the rights of children, particularly in the north and east parts of the country. Children were lacking education and were frequently subjected to poverty, malnutrition, labour and abuse. Many children chose work over education and became young labourers in order to support their families. The protection and promotion of the lives of all children in Sri Lanka was important to their survival.
ABC Tamil Oli said the situation in Sri Lanka had delayed resettlement for asylum seekers and refugees. The war was over, however the root cause of the problem had not been addressed and no solution had been found for the Tamils. Countless refugees had wasted their lives in camps and in transit countries with no alternatives. There were two known cases where returnees were arrested and released on bail. Tamils were still facing racial discrimination and were being denied their basic rights, and in some cases treated as second class citizens.
Association Culturelle des Tamouls En France turned the Council’s attention to the Sri Lankan military’s illegal occupation of the north and east of Sri Lanka, which had become a big concern among the Tamil community. The military’s interference had contributed to a reduction in Tamil economic activities and affected their livelihoods. As the military was involved in infrastructure, they did construction work, so local government and local work opportunities were diminished or even taken away completely.
International Solidarity for Africa spoke about the displacement of Tamils. Draconian legislation had significantly taken away fundamental rights, including the right to equality. Economic development for Tamils in north and east parts of Sri Lanka had been denied. The economic, social and political rights had been taken away as well as civil rights. The Council should call on Sri Lanka to give the Tamil population their right to self-determination.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) reminded that successive Sri Lankan Governments had continually violated the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, prolonging the suffering of the Tamil people. The Government continued to employ discriminatory tactics against the Tamils. The Sinhalese society had continued its genocidal policy. The organization called on Member States of the Council to hold a panel discussion on that topic.
L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie said that although Sri Lanka was party to all seven core human rights treaties, the Tamil nation was struggling for equal opportunities and for their freedom. Successive Sri Lankan Governments had continually violated the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the present Government was continuing that trend. It had detained numerous Tamil civilians without filing any charges under the Emergency Law and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul drew attention to the war affected children in Sri Lanka, especially the children of the families of enforced disappeared persons. Many children had lost their original identities and were forced to adapt to different environments where their religion, language and values had been compromised.
International Educational Development, in a joint statement, reminded that genocide was the extreme form of racial discrimination, calling attention to the persecution of the Hmong people by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Many of the remaining Hmong people in the country had come from Viet Nam. The organization recalled that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic had yet again denied the genocide of the Hmong people.
Zero Poor in Africa emphasized that racism was a global concern. It drew attention to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who, it assured the Council, had brutalized Sri Lanka for 30 years and actively participated in ethnic cleansing. It denied claims of racism on behalf of Sri Lankan authorities, and pointed to the fact that some of the top judges and businessmen in Sri Lanka came from ethnic minorities.
Jeunesse Étudiante Tamoule reminded the Council that Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act had been criticized both locally and internationally. But despite pledging to repeal this law, the Sri Lankan Government had continued to use this legislation to marginalize ethnic minorities through arbitrary arrests. Most worryingly, confessions extracted under the law had become admissible in court, although these were often obtained under duress. It called for the Sri Lankan Government to review and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
European Union of Jewish Students lamented that Jewish people had often found themselves in a position where racism had been normalised and institutionalised. The Union expressed particular concern regarding the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, where anti-Semitism had found its new home. Anti-Semitism was a shape shifter, a constantly mutating virus. It called for the Council to uphold its commitment and concern for deliberate racism against Jews such as that in the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.
Fraternité Notre Dame alerted the Human Rights Council to the drastic and rapid restrictions of individual liberties, particularly those perceived as being perpetrated against Christians. Fraternite Notre Dame drew attention to France, where refusal to submit a child to immunization could result in a fine and even prison time. Christianity and its values, said the organization, were being fought against using the destructive weapons of ridicule, slander and dirty language.
Right of Reply
United Arab Emirates, speaking in a right of reply, said that Qatar should not use the Council to politicise issues. Qatar was the origin of the crisis. The United Arab Emirates denied any violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination. There had been no definitive verdict as of yet at the International Court of Justice, but the United Arab Emirates followed the case with great interest and would assess their decision to establish the falseness of the claims therein.
Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, said that Armenia was trying to lead the international community by propagating lies. They wondered how a delegate from a country that implemented a policy of ethnic cleansing could talk about tolerance and non-discrimination. While spreading ethnic hatred and other nationalistic ideas, the Armenians were nurtured by nationalists whose words were used to incite people to kill their ethnic Azerbaijani neighbours. Armenians’ ignorance did not allow the two nations to live in peace and security. Instead of preparing its people for peace and prosperity, Armenia’s new leadership continued to repeat its past mistakes: it propagated hatred toward Azerbaijan and still did not face international sanctions. Azerbaijan underlined that it preserved ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.
China, speaking in a right of reply, responded to some non-governmental organizations and their claim that civil society was suppressed in China, which had nothing to do with the agenda item under discussion. China refuted the claims. China maintained judicial sovereignty which did not allow for foreign interference.
Qatar, speaking in a right of reply, clarified that provisional measures adopted by the International Court of Justice were an affirmation of the flagrant violations committed by the blockading States, with a negative impact on students who were forced to cease their education and leave without warning, members of joint families who were separated, and persons with property in those countries who were denied access to their properties. The Court’s order was a clear evidence of all those violations, and the attempt by the four States to prove otherwise was a denial of the truth and a failed attempt to prevent the Council from assuming its role and mandate in promoting and protecting human rights. This practice by the four States was intended to mislead the Member States and the Council and to let them turn their eyes off the flagrant violations which exceeded the blockade imposed on Qatar and touched many other issues that fell within the mandate of the Council
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 ; Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum ; 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; Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue; Global Action on Aging; International Educational Development; International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic & Other Minorities and International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD).
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