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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Closes One Hundred and Eleventh Session, Issues Concluding Observations on the Reports of Bolivia, Bulgaria, Germany, Morocco, South Africa and Viet Nam

Meeting Summaries

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this afternoon closed its one hundred and eleventh session, during which it reviewed the reports of Bolivia, Bulgaria, Germany, Morocco, South Africa and Viet Nam.

Verene Albertha Shepherd, Committee Chairperson, said Sunday, 10 December would mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognised equal rights and dignity for all.  Committee meetings showed how much effort was still needed for many States to achieve equality for all.  It was important for all to live in a world devoid of racism, stereotyping based on the origin of people, and racist hate speech; a world where the rights of minorities were safeguarded.  This message, which the Committee conveyed to States that it reviewed during the session, needed to be kept alive.

Ms. Shepherd said that it had been an intense but productive session, thanking Committee Experts and all who had contributed to the Committee’s work.

Ibrahima Guisse, Committee Rapporteur, said the Committee had conducted six country reviews during the session, examining the situations in Bolivia, Bulgaria, Germany, Morocco, South Africa and Viet Nam.  The Committee thanked all delegations for participating in the dialogues, as well as national human rights institutes and non-governmental organizations that provided information to the Committee.  The Committee’s concluding observations were available on the session’s webpage

Mr. Guisse said the Committee also considered an individual communication during the session concerning restriction of entry into Switzerland in relation to anti-COIVD-19 measures.  The Committee decided that the communication was inadmissible since the author did not comply with the six-month deadline to submit his communication to the Committee, without justifying the delay.

During the session, the Committee considered follow-up reports submitted by Azerbaijan, Slovakia and the United States.  Under the early warning and urgent action procedure, the Committee considered several situations and would send letters to States parties assessed under this procedure.  The Committee further considered proposals for reforming its rules of procedure and would pursue that work at its next session.  It also reviewed its methods of work, including those related to State reviews.

Mr. Guisse said that, during the session, the Committee had held a joint public event with the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families to hear from different stakeholders as a first step towards the elaboration of a joint general recommendation on policies to prevent xenophobia and its impact on the rights of migrants.  The Committee would provide further updates on this initiative in coming sessions.

The Committee also held a meeting with 36 representatives of States parties to the Convention.  Committee members provided updates on efforts to strengthen the treaty bodies system, and called on States parties to accept the individual complaints procedure, provide the Committee and treaty bodies with necessary resources for their adequate functioning, and ensure equitable geographic representation in the Committee’s membership.  The Committee thanked all States parties that exchanged views with the Committee at the meeting.

Finally, Mr. Guisse said the Committee further held a meeting with the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, its longstanding partner, to discuss issues of common interest and methods of strengthening the cooperation and synergy between the bodies in a more structured manner.

Ms. Shepherd, in concluding remarks, said she was approaching the end of her term as Chair of the Committee.  She stressed that it had been a privilege to serve the Committee in particular, and the United Nations in general, in this capacity.  She expressed thanks for the support provided by members of the Committee, the secretariat, and all other persons who had contributed to the Committee’s work.

She called on all those who believed in rights and justice for the down-pressed and marginalised peoples of the world to continue to work on their behalf.  She said that she started her life as one of those people, left to sink or swim in the dark waters of a resource deficient post-colonial society.  People who cared had pulled her out of that situation.  It was the mission of human rights defenders such as the Committee Experts to pull people out of conditions of poverty, marginalisation, “desmadification”, socio-economic oppression and racial discrimination.  It was their mission to be advocates for peace in this world where, according to the late Jamaica reggae icon Bob Marley, “everywhere is war.”  As another Jamaican reggae legend Peter Tosh said, “there can be no peace without equal rights and justice.”  Equal rights and justice required an end to racial discrimination and the philosophy that held one race superior and another inferior. 

Ms. Shepherd quoted Haile Sellassie 1st, who told the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva in October 1963 that “until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship and rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained.”

Everyone’s collective effort was needed to heal the current fractured state of global relations, where intolerance for diversity, prejudice and racism threatened to tear all apart, Ms. Shepherd said.  It was in everyone’s hands to make a better world for all who lived in it.

Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.  Other documents related to the session can be found here.

The next session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is scheduled to take place from 8 to 29 April 2024.  In the session, the Committee is scheduled to review the reports of Albania, Mauritius, Mexico, Qatar, Republic of Moldova and San Marino.

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