Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Opens its One Hundred and Sixth Session in Geneva
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its one hundred and sixth session, during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Cameroon, Estonia, Luxembourg and Kazakhstan. The Committee heard three newly elected members make a solemn declaration, elected its new bureau, with Verene Albertha Shepherd of Jamaica as Chair, and adopted the session’s agenda.
Mahamane Cissé-Gouro, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, congratulated the nine members who had been elected or re-elected for a new term. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic still affected populations across the globe, regarding access to health care, education, employment, social security, equality and non-discrimination, deepening long-standing existing inequalities. The world faced many challenges which were of direct concern to the Committee. The Human Rights Council held a panel discussion in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, at its forty-ninth session this year, discussing topics such as anti-racism policy and actions and existing challenges in combatting racism, among others. Inequalities, racial discrimination, intolerance and racist prejudices were not only violations of human rights, but possible drivers of conflicts, as affirmed by the Special Rapporteur on minority issues in a recent report to the Human Rights Council. It was greatly appreciated that the Committee directly addressed these concerns.
Mr. Cissé-Gouro said that at its September session, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution establishing the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. The Forum's core mandate was to contribute to the inclusion of people of African descent in all spheres of life; to examine the possibility of drafting a declaration of their rights; to identify and analyse best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives in order to address issues related to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; and to monitor progress and provide expert advice and recommendations to the Human Rights Council. To do this, the Permanent Forum would interact with other mechanisms. Mr. Cissé-Gouro encouraged the Committee to request a meeting with the Permanent Forum to discuss issues of common interest, synergies and opportunities for collaboration. He noted the intense work which would come over the next three weeks and wished the Committee a fruitful session.
Three newly elected Committee members, Michael Balcerzak (Poland), Régine Esseneme (Cameroon), and Gay McDougall (United States) made their solemn declaration before the Committee. Mazalo Tebie (Togo) was not present to make her solemn declaration.
The Committee then elected the new Bureau. Verene Albertha Shepherd (Jamaica) was elected by acclamation as Chairperson of the Committee for the next two years. Chinsung Chung (Republic of Korea), Michael Balcerzak (Poland), and Stamatia Stavrinaki (Greece) were elected as Vice Chairpersons, and Noureddine Amir (Algeria) was elected as the Committee Rapporteur.
Ms. Shepherd thanked the Committee for the trust they had placed in her. She said she would like to count on the Committee members for continued collaboration and cooperation so the Committee could achieve its mandate and protect victims of racial discrimination. The Committee needed to persevere and stand on the right side of history, as there were marginalised groups which depended on them. Ms. Shepherd welcomed the newly elected members to the Bureau and was confident they would work well together. She thanked the previous Chair Yanduan Li for her leadership during a difficult time.
The Committee then adopted the provisional agenda, as orally revised.
Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s one hundred and sixth session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 13 April, at 3 p.m. to consider the combined twenty-second and twenty-third periodic report of Cameroon (CERD/C/CMR/22-23).
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