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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE

2 July 2018

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance. 

During the debate, speakers expressed concern about rising intolerance, extremism and hate crimes, targeting mostly migrants and refugees, as well as minorities.  They were troubled by the growing number of political parties that sought to normalize racism as a political tool, very frequently undermining human rights and integrity.  Those who had disassociated themselves from the Durban Declaration should step up their efforts to fight increasing racist and anti-migration platforms.  Nowadays when racism raised its ugly head, there was a failure of the United Nations to effectively combat racism.  If more genuine efforts had been made to engage the public and decision-makers on the real content of the Durban Declaration, the international community would have been better equipped to fight racial discrimination. 
 
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, Austria on behalf of the European Union, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Arab Group, Pakistan, Egypt, Venezuela, South Africa, Mexico, China, Cuba, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Qatar, Libya, Greece, India, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, Sweden, and Sudan. 

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture; International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; Global Welfare Association; The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd; World Jewish Congress; Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI); European Union of Jewish Students; International Humanist and Ethical Union; Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme; Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation; United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation; Human Rights Law Centre; Guinea Medical Mutual Association ; Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR); Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee; Liberation; Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA; Prahar; Center for Organisation Research and Education; New Human Rigths Cameroon; Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea; International-Lawyers.Org; Alliance Creative Community Project; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Ius Primi Viri International Association; World Barua Organization; Association culturelle des Tamouls en France; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme.

Armenia, Brazil, and Azerbaijan spoke in a right of reply. 


The Council will resume its work on Tuesday, 3 July at 10 a.m., when it will conclude its general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.  It will then hold separate interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as an interactive dialogue on a regular periodic update on Ukraine.


General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, denounced hate crimes and hate speech committed anywhere in the world.  Discrimination could take place anywhere, whether it was genocide of Rohingya, closing of borders, killing of people for eating meat by cow vigilantes, or prohibiting migrants to enter European shores.  Hatred of migrants was turning into the hatred of the other.  The Istanbul process provided guidance on combatting intolerance, xenophobia and incitement to violence.

Brazil, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, condemned all forms of racism and racial discrimination, in particular those promoted by political and community leaders.  The continuing resurgence of those phenomena was concerning. The group of countries affirmed their full commitment to the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, and welcomed the holding of the intergovernmental working group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action in September.

Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed that last year the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights had conducted the second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, focusing on discrimination faced by immigrants.  The results raised concerns as they showed that only little progress had been made.  In May the European Parliament had hosted the first ever European Union/People of African Descent Week, with numerous workshops and roundtables.

Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, condemned rising extremism across the world.  Migrants and refugees were frequently targeted and it was particularly worrying that this hatred was exploited by politicians.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights was thanked for his efforts on combatting racism across the world and hope was expressed that his successor would continue in same manner.  The failure of national security policies could not justify racism and hatred.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Aligned Movement maintained an unequivocal position against all forms of racial discrimination.  The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action constituted a solid framework to combat contemporary manifestations of discrimination.  There was an urgent need to address the scourge of discrimination, including in areas under foreign occupation.

United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, noted that the international community had come a long way in combatting racism.  The Arab Group was concerned about emerging forms of racism and xenophobia, including acts that targeted migrants and refugees.  Some States were engaging in systematic acts of racism and discrimination.  Migrants contributed positively to host countries.  All forms of racism must be criminalised.

Pakistan reiterated its concern about the upsurge of new and contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination.  Pakistan was greatly alarmed about the xenophobic trajectory of several European Union Member States.  The European Union must ensure its human rights policy was consistent both within and outside its borders.  There was an urgent need to strengthen the legal framework for addressing hate speech and xenophobia.

Egypt said international human rights law focused on the fact that people must be free from discrimination.  Egypt condemned measures taken by Norway with respect to migrants and asylum seekers.  The European Union faced migration challenges, however, Union members must guarantee the protection of asylum seekers and refugees.  Finland was placing minors in detention centres based on migration status.

Venezuela said the use of degrading and inhuman treatment, including torture, against migrants by the Government of the United States was unacceptable.  Imprisonment and mass deportations, as well as all the violations happening in the United States and the European Union, were circumstances that could not be accepted.  Venezuela complied with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and prohibited racial discrimination as a criminal act.  It was fully committed to combatting racism and all forms of intolerance, in particular national and religious hatred.

South Africa reaffirmed that under international human rights law and principles, all human beings were entitled to fundamental rights and human dignity.  South Africa commemorated the centenary of President Nelson Mandela, whose legacy continued to serve as an example on how to manage diversity.  The rise of populism, and the escalation of racism, xenophobic and hate speech against people of African descent, was of serious concern.  South Africa called for the reinstatement of the critical personnel of the anti-racism unit in the Office. 

Mexico was highly troubled by the growing amount of political parties that sought to normalize racism as a political tool, very frequently undermining human rights and integrity.  The proliferation of this discourse as a public policy was troubling.  Mexico firmly condemned racist refugee law, and all public policies emanating thereof.  The practice of detention of non-accompanied minors and the separation of families had a xenophobic backdrop and could not be tolerated.

China called on the international community to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  Progress had been made but violence against refugees was growing.  Ethnic minorities suffered from systematic discrimination.  China had always supported the international community in its struggle against racism.  It called on countries affected by racism to show political will and zero tolerance against racism.   

Cuba reaffirmed the full relevance of the outcomes of the historic Durban Conference.  Those who had disassociated themselves from the Durban Declaration should step up their efforts to fight increasing racist and anti-migration platforms.  The migrant crisis had exacerbated nationalist and racist sentiments, and 20 years after the Durban Conference, the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance had not been sufficiently advanced.  It was vital to adopt tangible actions so that everyone was treated equally.

Ukraine said that the Ukrainians were directly faced with the threat of intolerance and xenophobia.  The ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and the temporary occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory were accompanied by systemic discriminatory acts, which flagrantly violated the human rights of the Ukrainian population on the grounds of ethnicity.  Ukraine pointed out to organized racial discrimination of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians. 

United Kingdom stated that the great majority of people in the United Kingdom lived harmoniously together, with 85 per cent feeling that they belonged very strongly or fairly strongly to the United Kingdom.  Nevertheless, challenges remained and the Government was working to build strong integrated communities where people from all backgrounds lived, worked, learned and socialized together, based on shared rights and responsibilities, and equal opportunities.

Qatar noted that some of the worst forms of racism resulted from Government policies.  The unilateral coercive measures against Qatar had targeted individuals solely on the basis of their nationality.  They were discriminatory and disproportionate.  Families had been separated and Qatari citizens had lost their right to employment and education.  The Human Rights Council should urgently address those measures and exert pressure on the States that had introduced unilateral coercive measures. 

Libya said increasing nationalism and populism in Western countries were fomenting fear.  The plague of racism was spreading and polluting human lives at the national and international levels.  There was a need to condemn and criminalise all forms of racial discrimination.  Libya reiterated the need to assert commitment to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Greece stressed that racism was in clear violation of the universal values of human rights.  Greece called for a multifaceted response to the increasing aggression against shared values.  The Government had adopted legislation punishing activity associated with racial discrimination.  A national board was in place to monitor the fight against racism.  Greece was committed to continued action against intolerance.

India said any form of discrimination was deplorable.  Racism was the antithesis of freedom, justice and equality.  The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action addressed all forms of discrimination.  States must protect vulnerable groups from all forms of discrimination.  Safeguards against discrimination were built into the country’s constitution.  Respect for human values was crucial to combatting discrimination.

Azerbaijan asserted that acts of discrimination must be criminalised.  Azerbaijan was dismayed that Armenia, as an occupying power, was erecting monuments in honour of Nazi general Nzdeh Garegin.  Armenia was pursuing discriminatory policies.  Increased research was needed to determine why certain societies resorted to mass violence and created intolerant environments. 

Bolivia was grateful for the Special Rapporteur’s report on discrimination in relation to migration, noting that it was important to remain alert that many political parties continued to promote racism.  There was no basis for the adoption of racist practices in nationalist agendas.  The separation of children from families in detention camps was a policy of segregation.  Bolivia refuted all forms of racism and racial discrimination. 

Turkey sadly observed that racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia were more relevant than ever, especially in Western Europe.  Turkey remained particularly concerned about these, as well as anti-immigrant sentiments, which were on the rise globally.  These scourges had dangerously evolved into serious and concrete threats to global peace and social harmony and needed to be urgently and effectively addressed by the international community as a whole.

Trinidad and Tobago was a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society.  Despite the harsh era of colonialism, slavery and indentureship, the country remained one which strove to ensure that “every creed and race find an equal place” as espoused in the national anthem.  Trinidad and Tobago was party to key international instruments and had been active in the international campaign against apartheid.

Sweden said celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Human Rights, one would expect that the inherent dignity and equal rights of all individuals would be self-evident, yet an increasing number of people were witnessing a more hate-filled social climate in which racism was a clear component.  As such, States including Sweden, needed to become better at identifying new forms of discrimination.

Sudan expressed concern about continued racism and xenophobia which presented a challenge to the enjoyment of fundamental rights, and a threat to peace.  It criticized the rise in anti-migrant discourses.  The international community should shoulder its moral responsibility to protect the dignity of persons and it should adopt an international instrument to condemn racism and xenophobia. 

China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture said that China paid great attention to the development of Tibet both in cultural and economic terms.  Human rights in Tibet would be better protected through China’s openness. 

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations noted that nowadays when racism raised its ugly head, there was a failure of the United Nations to effectively combat racism.  If more genuine efforts had been made to engage the public and decision-makers on the real content of the Durban Declaration, the international community would be better equipped to fight racial discrimination. 

Global Welfare Association reminded that fighting racial discrimination was a priority for the international community.  The Human Rights Council had forgotten the crimes committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and it had taken the side of terrorists, accusing the Sri Lankan army of killing 146,000 civilians.  The Council should stop adopting resolutions against Sri Lanka.  

Palestinian Return Centre Ltd drew attention to the discriminatory policies enforced by Israel against Palestinians.  Consequent Israeli Governments were responsible for institutionalised discriminatory policies.  Israeli authorities had recently demolished a Bedouin village for the one hundred and thirtieth time in an effort to force the population to relocate to Government created townships.  Such villages were constantly at threat of demolition.

World Jewish Congress said a Holocaust survivor was recently murdered in Paris simply for being Jewish.  Over the past two decades, 12 people had been murdered in France because they were Jewish.  Today, Jewish communities were increasingly targeted by anti-Zionist groups.  World Jewish Congress asserted that Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism were two sides of the same coin.

Conselho Indigenista Missionário said that, in Brazil, the constitution stated that it was forbidden to remove indigenous groups from their land.  However, the Government was wrongly operating on the premise that only lands at the hands of indigenous population up to 1988 were protected.  Forty-three per cent of the country’s indigenous population was being forced to live outside of their land.

European Union of Jewish Students pointed to an increase in far-right rhetoric around the world.  The widespread glorification of Nazism and denial of the Holocaust were common practice in the Middle East.  The Special Rapporteur had failed to acknowledge that fact in her report, instead, disproportionately focusing her attention on the United States.  Jewish narratives were also being isolated from intersectional approaches to discrimination. 

International Humanist and Ethical Union said the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action recognized the humanists, yet those expressing the values of humanism and science often faced discrimination.  In Egypt, a humanist had been thrown out of a media programme and advised to seek psychiatrist help, merely because he was proposing humanist ideas.  In Bangladesh, people faced discrimination because they promoted an atheist agenda.

Conseil International pour le soutien a des process equitables et aux Drois de l’Homme said in Kuwait, more than 100,000 Bidoons endured systematic State discrimination.  They were considered illegal residents in their own country and faced social, political and economic discrimination.  They were also prevented from advocating for their right to citizenship.  Moreover, it was illegal for Bidoons to protest for their rights.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation was concerned about the ongoing discrimination against Tamils in north-east Sri Lanka.  Such discrimination was manifest in the Sri Lankan Government’s failure to meaningfully implement resolution 30/1.  Despite the Government’s commitment to demilitarization in the resolution, Sinhalese security forces remained pervasive in the north-east.  As a result, Tamil women and men faced sexual violence at the hands of soldiers.

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said young people were facing new forms of social exclusion.  Young people were fading away because of the barriers they faced in employment.  The leaders of companies reduced the status of young workers to slaves.  This encouraged the forced labour of youth.  United Towns called for an end to economic discrimination of youth.

Human Rights Law Centre spoke of institutional discrimination and racism in Australia.  Children as young as 10 were imprisoned across the country, most of them indigenous children.  As long as indigenous children were 20 times more likely to be imprisoned than the rest, the promises of the Australian Government to protect children’s rights were empty words.

Guinea Medical Mutual Association reminded that the guilty party benefitted from the crime and drew attention to intercommunal clashes in villages in Mali, Nigeria, Mauritania, the Central African Republic, and Burkina Faso, where pastoral communities were discriminated against.  The greed for natural resources led to land grabbing, which was carried out by the so-called terrorist groups serving the interests of economic and political supremacies. 

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) reminded that racism, prejudice and xenophobia in India was a strange mix of prejudice, ignorance and centuries-old discriminatory practices.  Kashmiri students in India were frequently harassed, detained and subjected to religious profiling.  Many of them had been killed, while others were expelled from universities.

Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee drew attention to the situation of Christians in India, which had deteriorated in recent years.  There had been an escalation of attacks on Christian minorities and the imposition of Hindu beliefs on them.  The organization urged the Human Rights Council to call on India to implement the freedom of religion and belief. 

Liberation said all countries must work against all forms of racial discrimination.  Uprooting discrimination was not an easy task.  States like India required time to address issues arising from its caste system.  The Government must prepare and implement an action plan to combat caste-based discrimination. 

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had urged India to repeal its armed forces act.  The Committee had confirmed that this piece of legislation was racist but had received no official response from India.  The legislation allowed authorities to kill children.  India was imposing such racist legislation in certain northern parts of the country.

Prahar asserted that nationality must not be used by States as the basis for discrimination.  No Government must violate the rights of its own citizens as a result of flawed migration policies.  India’s decision to give citizenship to thousands of illegal migrants in Assan was negatively affecting the life of indigenous populations.  United Nations entities must assess the situation on the ground.

Centre for Organization Research and Education declared that all human beings were born free.  Any doctrine of racial superiority was false, unjust and dangerous and must be rejected.  Many States forgot what they had committed to in the Durban Declaration.  In India, people from lower caste groups were persistently facing discrimination.  Rather than address issues, authorities were targeting Dalits.

New Human Rigths Cameroon said the Baloch people were suffering from racism at the hands of the Pakistani State.  The strategic policy of the State to spread hate and terror through State organs against the Baloch had become the norm.  People were killed with impunity.  The unstrained State terror was accompanied by lies.  What were the people of Baluchistan being punished for?

Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea said the Sinhalese, Tamil, Buddhist, Hindu and other minorities in Sri Lanka were being discriminated against.  They were not allowed to purchase land.  The State was promoting a mono-ethnic, racist and selectively-discriminating policy.  The Tamils were not recognized. 

International-Lawyers.Org said that efforts by some States to diminish or belittle the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action were deplorable.  It reiterated its commitment to the Declaration, and stated that its effective implementation in national legislation was needed, in order to ban institutional discrimination.

Alliance Creative Community Project said all individuals were born equal.  It had been almost 10 years since illegal and arbitrary detention, land grabbing and settlement continued in utter violation of the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka.  Additionally, the right to equality for the Tamils in Sri Lanka was non-existent.  It asked the Human Rights Council to urge the Sri Lankan Government to allow Tamils to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik noted that the people of Afghanistan living in Iran as asylum seekers, refugees or migrants suffered from many kinds of discrimination both in law and practice.  Under the Citizenship Law of Iran, only men could pass down their citizenship to children.  There were around 350,000 stateless children in Iran, most of them of Iranian mothers married to men from Afghanistan.

IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association said that the Houthi militia in Yemen exercised ethnic discrimination in the territory it controlled.  It continued to commit crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced displacement.  Some 12,000 people had been displaced from the Dammaj area.  An even more serious matter was the indoctrination of children, which was a threat to the social fabric of Yemen.

World Barua Organization warned of the ideology of the purity of the Arian race.  This ideology had existed in India for ages, based on some religious notions and was espoused by fundamentalists from the Brahmin caste, who were proud of their origins.  The organization urged the Human Rights Council to call on India to condemn such racist ideologies. 

Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France reminded that the Sinhala colonization of north-east Sri Lanka had been going on for 75 years since 1940.  The earliest seed for racial animosity against the Tamils had been planted during the pre-independence years when the pan-Sinhala cabinet of ministers had been formed in 1937 without any Tamil members.

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme reaffirmed the centrality of the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to combat discrimination.  The organization took note of United Nations efforts to link racial discrimination and underdevelopment and lack of access to justice.  It expressed deep concern about the devaluation of human life and the normalisation of racism around the world.

Right of Reply

Armenia, speaking in a right of reply, said Azerbaijan had no moral right to blame Armenia when murder was the State policy in Azerbaijan.  Azerbaijan had turned “Armenophobia” into the State propaganda.  Such ideas were spread among young Azerbaijanis, imperilling the prospects for a peaceful future.  People with Armenian names had for long been prohibited access to Azerbaijan.  The Human Rights Council had voiced concern over such acts of discrimination.  Azerbaijan was urged not to spread hatred and intolerance within the Council.

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, responding to statements by non-governmental organizations, reiterated Brazil’s commitment to the rights of indigenous people.  The country’s constitution paid special attention to the rights of indigenous populations and Brazil strongly supported international mechanisms for the protection of indigenous rights.  Indigenous lands covered over four per cent of Brazil’s territory.  The Government would continue working to protect indigenous lands in line with the constitution.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, said the statement of Armenia was full of lies and hate speech.  Unlike Armenia, which implemented total ethnic cleansing on all its territory and had succeeded in creating a mono-ethnic State, Azerbaijan had preserved a multi-ethnic State.  Such irresponsible allegations by Armenia were unacceptable – especially having in mind that over 100,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan while not a single Azerbaijani lived in Armenia according to Armenian official statistics.  No right could be exercised at the expense of the violation of others.  How did the delegation of Armenia reconcile with its requirement to exercise human rights in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh region, if it refused to recognize the rights of Azerbaijanis in this region?

Armenia, speaking in a second right of reply, said the Azerbaijani authorities regularly cited fabricated data.  Only 306 persons had indicated that they were of Armenian origin in the census of 2009 in Azerbaijan.  There was no awareness of other Armenians in Azerbaijan.  If there were such people, why didn’t Azerbaijan share this information?

Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, said the allegations of Armenia were full of distorted information.  It doubted that the Government was able to answer the simple question of the violation of more than one million internally displaced Azerbaijani persons living in Nagorno-Karabakh.  How many Azerbaijanis were living in Armenia?  The policy of ethnic cleansing had been exercised in Armenia, the results of which was that not a single Azerbaijani was living in Armenia.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/18/107E