Third Committee Experts Warn Racism, Hate Speech, White Supremacy to Become Mainstream Unless States Enforce Zero-Tolerance Policies, Prevent Exclusion

Racism, bigotry, xenophobia, nationalist populism, white supremacy and hate speech are on the rise, and often made more casual by public figures, experts told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, sounding an alarm bell against a general indifference to the perilous uptick in such behaviour.

This indifference towards the suffering of people of different ethnicity or race and lack of accountability creates the basis for structural racial discrimination, said Michal Balcerzak, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

One of three mandate holders to address the Committee, he said States must develop zero-tolerance policies towards white supremacy � and other extremist ideologies, hate speech and incitement to hatred. He reminded Governments of their commitments to address racism and racial discrimination in the Durban Declaration, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism.

Along similar lines, E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance cautioned States against adopting travel bans and crippling austerity measures that encourage the rise of nationalist populism.

Moreover, online communities offer safe harbour for groups espousing racial superiority and intolerance, she said, noting that the anonymity permitted by digital technology has shifted the extremist ideology closer to mainstream. She urged States to work with the private sector to combat online intolerance, while technology companies must ensure that their codes of conduct and actual practices reflect a serious commitment to racial equality.

Nourredine Amir, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said the rise in racist hate speech over the last year, expressed through various channels, has mainly targeted migrants, irrespective of their residence status. The resurgence of extremist organizations that incite racial hatred and ideas of racial superiority is alarming. The legacy of slavery and colonialism is deeply rooted in some countries, he said, stressing that the main victims � people of African descent, indigenous peoples and ethnic and national minorities � remain under-represented in public office.

Also today, the Committee concluded its general debate on human rights, with the United Kingdom’s delegate underscoring a collective duty to advocate for those whose rights are the most vulnerable or the least respected and all too often violated by the very Governments that have an obligation to protect them.

Small States must have a voice in ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, the representative of the Bahamas stressed.

Also speaking today were representatives of India, Cuba, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Yemen, Serbia, Bolivia, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan, Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Comoros (on behalf of the African Group), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Namibia (on behalf of Southern African Development Community (SADC)), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), as well as an observers from the State of Palestine and the European Union.

The representatives of Egypt and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

In addition, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also spoke. Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, also made introductory remarks.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 October, to continue its discussion on racism and self-determination.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to discuss the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as the right of peoples to self-determination.

Delegates had before them the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Suppl. No. 18) (document A/73/18), as well as Secretary General’s notes transmitting reports by: the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/73/312) and (document A/73/305); Group of independent eminent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action document (A/73/98); and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent document (A/73/228). A Secretariat note transmits the report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination (document A/73/303).

Also before the Committee were Secretary-General reports on: Global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/73/371); the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (document A/73/354); and the Right of peoples to self-determination (document A/73/329).

The Committee also met to close its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights. For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4235.

Statements

PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India) recalling progress made in the evolution of the normative framework, said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action � adopted at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights � place economic, social and cultural rights on par with civil and political rights, a point relevant to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The creation of human rights institutions stems from the hope placed in the United Nations to achieve equality and dignity for all. He called for an honest appraisal of whether the international community has achieved genuine improvement in human rights through its aggressive and overly intrusive methods that have lacked consultations with the country concerned.

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ BEHMARAS (Cuba) underscored his country’s will to engage in dialogue on the basis of mutual respect, equality and recognition of all peoples’ right to choose their own political institutions. He expressed support for the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and regret that the United States continues to contravene the Declaration, systematically violating human rights and demonstrating contempt for multilateralism and United Nations principles. Noting that poverty, illiteracy and lack of access to basic rights are the characteristics of an unjust international economic order, he said the statement delivered by the United States delegation is an example of an arrogant and confrontational approach that in no way contributes to the promotion and protection of human rights. The United States lack the morals to give lessons in terms of human rights, he said, adding that the Universal Periodic Review is the appropriate instrument for dealing with human rights situations in all countries without distinction or politicization. The certification of countries through unilateral lists, such as those published by the United States, are contrary to international law and the Charter, he stressed.

HAYFA ALI AHMED MATAR (Bahrain) condemned human trafficking, stressing that his country will not be a location for such practices. Drawing attention to Bahrain’s 2017 national strategy against human trafficking, he said women are respected in all spheres, including as members of a national women’s committee, while the country also hosts an international centre for women. There is another centre for dialogue, which underscores the importance of human values in broader efforts to foster coexistence and tolerance.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said his country is among the 33 that have been fully up to date in their treaty body reporting. Expressing strong support for the Universal Periodic Review, he said that last month, a working group comprised of deputy ministers was created to prepare reports destined for United Nations bodies and to oversee the implementation of their recommendations. Azerbaijan has also extended a standing invitation to special procedure mandate holders.

Ms. SINGH (Singapore) said looking after the social and economic development is key to realizing the human rights of Singaporeans. The Government’s approach has always rested on building a fair and inclusive society which preserves social harmony through policies of social integration and an impartial, independent judicial system. Singapore does not seek to be dogmatic or prescriptive about its approach, she assured, pointing out that Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) discussions have revealed that there is no one-size-fits-all model for human rights. States must appreciate each other’s unique local circumstances and engage constructively with one another, in a spirit of mutual respect.

NADYA RASHEED, an observer for the State of Palestine, said Israel’s illegal, inhumane occupation of Palestine contravenes all principles of international and human rights law. Its non-stop demolition of Palestinian homes, confiscation of land, expansion of settlements, forced displacement and constant attempts to annex land have continued unabated. The year also witnessed daily military raids, often causing death or injury, settler terror, extremist incitement against holy sites, and the detention of civilians, especially young men. All of these illegal policies and practices have been accompanied by an unending series of collective punishments, including the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. There, 2 million Palestinians have been inhumanely deprived, isolated, impoverished and traumatized for the past 10 years, forced to endure a dire health and humanitarian crisis and deplorable socio-economic conditions.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen) said his country is committed to protecting all human rights conventions during its ongoing conflict, citing various resolutions, including to protect journalists and other defenders of fundamental freedoms. The suffering in Yemen is due to a political situation that has affected all institutions. There have been numerous violations: cities are being occupied and mines have been placed. Children have been recruited into armed groups and are being used to fight; many have died under these circumstances. Several humanitarian ships have been pirated and ransoms demanded.

MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia) said that as a multi-ethnic country, it pays special attention to the rights of minorities, notably that to use minority language and script, which is a precondition for many other rights. In Serbia, 14 minority languages are provided for at all three education levels. Serbia has achieved significant results in the normative area, as well as in the implementation of laws and conventions. However, there is still room for improvement. The Government is open to cooperation with all United Nations human rights mechanisms, she said, noting that for almost two decades, Serbia has drawn attention to problems encountered by the non-Albanian population in its southern province of Kosovo and Metohija.

LILIANA STEPHANIE OROPEZA ACOSTA (Bolivia), associating with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), described a sense of going backward amid increasing inequality. While there have been considerable gains made, a systematic patriarchal system persists, making gender equality a priority of various programmes and of the electoral law. In addressing land titles, Bolivia has increased the percentage of women who own land from 10 per cent to 45 per cent. Through the economic law, Bolivia offers grants to people with disabilities, and recognizes farmers’ collective rights as inherent, with their right to land prioritized as essential to ensuring food security. Bolivia will submit a draft resolution on farmers’ rights.

AGNES COUTOU, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), describing a global crisis of the missing, said a search is underway for over 100,000 persons worldwide � the highest number ever, yet it is only the tip of the iceberg. He called for early and preventive action. The intergenerational impact of such unresolved cases shapes the history of families and societies and can hamper peace prospects. Today’s wars involve groups and individuals from various countries, multiplying the number of stakeholders affected and making collaboration a real challenge. He emphasized the importance of preventing people from going missing, dead or alive, by registering those deprived of liberty, centralizing missing person information, recording gravesites, and ensuring identification and dignified management of human remains. Impartiality is the golden rule for such measures, he said, stressing that families have the right under international humanitarian law to know the fate of their missing relatives.

KIERAN GORMAN-BEST, speaking on behalf of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), noted there are 258 million migrants globally, a number that is growing more quickly than ever before. Migrants face racial discrimination and abuse. Those in irregular situations are especially vulnerable and often afraid to file complaints due to being in situations of extreme isolation and marginalization. Reaching target 10.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals requires that States ensure safe and equal access to justice to all migrants, regardless of status, and that the human rights, safety, and dignity of all individuals are incorporated into migration policies.

Ms. ALZOUMAN (Kuwait), describing the human rights of foreigners working in his country and the need to raise their living standards, said the Government appreciates them as partners. Kuwait attaches importance to human rights and has ratified various instruments, in accordance with its Constitution. It has taken part in various forums and has made voluntary contributions to promote human rights. On the situation in Myanmar, which the Government has closely followed, he stressed the need to ensure human rights are respected. On the crisis in Syria, Kuwait sought to foster dialogue with a view to achieving reconciliation. He called for the perpetrators of crimes to be brought to justice.

MARIPAZ MIKUE ONDO ENGONGA (Equatorial Guinea) said respect for human rights is a priority for her country. By promoting the new Constitution and enacting it, the Government lent further impetus to social development. It adopted a national development plan to strengthen human capital and foster citizens’ well-being. Roads were built to improve access to rural areas and financial programmes were put in place to support the marketing of rural products. She called on all Member States to take the necessary measures to promote and protect human rights.

SHEILA CAREY (Bahamas) stressed that small States must have a voice in ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Recalling her country’s recent election to the Human Rights Council as the first English-speaking small island developing State in the Caribbean, she said that while retaining the death penalty for crimes only considered the worst of the worst, she said the last mandated execution took place 17 years ago, even in the absence of a formal moratorium. There are no inmates presently on death row. Turning to efforts to empower women and girls, she highlighted various urban and rural community forums, information-sharing meetings, domestic violence programmes and the consistent participation in women-related local, regional and international conferences, in particular through its membership on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that, while all humans are born equal in dignity and rights, there are wide differences in their enjoyment of them. People are denied the right to marry the person they love or the ability to form a family. People flee to neighbouring countries to escape sexual violence, slaughter or ethnic cleansing. People are poisoned in foreign countries in struggles of succession, because they chose to live in freedom or criticize repressive regimes. Journalists are detained, tortured or killed for seeking out the truth or speaking truth to power. The world’s shared humanity dictates that everyone should care, she said, urging action. What is more, nations that respect human rights and the rule of law provide the best conditions for development, economic growth, peace and stability.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has served as a catalyst for progress. And yet, egregious and systematic rights violations take place every day, such as India’s constant denial of the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are subject to repression and ruthless abuses at the hand of occupying forces. This situation demands immediate and urgent action. Underlining that economic and social rights facilitate the realization of civil and political rights, she expressed support for the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs, who must discharge their responsibilities with full independence, within their mandates, with impartiality, transparency, non-selectivity and without any politicization.

CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said world hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row, with the absolute number of undernourished people at nearly 821 million in 2017. Agricultural workers are among the most food insecure. Small producers, usually residing in rural areas, are responsible for the production of 70 per cent of global food. Yet, hunger strikes the hardest in these areas. She reaffirmed FAO’s support to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.

Right of Reply

The representative of Egypt, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, refuted allegations by the European Union’s delegate, which he called misconstrued and selectively targeted against his country under the guise of concern over human rights. Journalists and other human rights defenders had violated laws and faced guilty verdicts. They cannot be exempt from the consequences of having disrespected Egypt’s law. It is ironic that the European Union accuses others of such violations, when the freedom of association and expression are under attack in many parts of Europe, especially the right to protest. He cited in that context federal police powers in Germany and rights violations in the United Kingdom against minorities and persons with disabilities.

The representative of Israel said he would address the false accusations against his country at a later time.

Interactive Dialogues

ANDREW GILMOUR, Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights, presented two reports by the Secretary-General on the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The first report (document A/73/371) deals with the comprehensive implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, underscoring the need to take urgent measures to reverse the worrisome trends of violence and increasingly hostile racist and xenophobic attitudes.

He said the second report (document A/73/354) focuses on the implementation of the activities of the International Decade of People of African Descent. It provides and overview of experiences of racial profiling encountered by people of African descent, highlights the applicable legal framework and documents good practices. The practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies is not only contrary to international legal norms, but also ineffective, he stressed.

He also presented the Secretary-General’s report (document A/73/329) on the right of peoples to self-determination, which summarizes discussions and decisions by the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Human rights treaty bodies continue to elaborate the right to self-determination through their jurisprudence, which may prove useful to all States seeking to fulfil their obligation under international law. States must refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other States and thereby affect the exercise of the right to self-determination, he stated.

People of African Descent

MICAL BALCDRZAK, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, presenting the Working Group’s report (document A/73/228) expressed concern over the increasingly open, often tolerated manifestations of racism and xenophobia, as well as over the indifference towards ethnic inequality, racial colour-blindness and a lack of engagement on race-related issues. During the reporting period, the Working Group had visited Guyana and Spain.

Turning first to Guyana, he expressed concern over the length of judicial proceedings and overcrowded prisons, recommending that the members of the Human Rights Commission be appointed without delay and noting that there are gaps between the law and practice in protecting people of African descent from racism, xenophobia and Afrophobia. In Spain, he said the Group is concerned about the plight of migrant workers who live in appalling conditions, and about the collective expulsions and pushbacks at the borders of Spain in Ceuta and Melilla. He recalled the commitments Member States had made to address racism in the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, as well as in the activities programme for implementing the International Decade for People of African Descent.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Morocco voiced regret over the increase in discriminatory practices against certain people of African descent, which hinder development. She asked about the challenges faced in elaborating a declaration on the rights of people of African descent.

The representative of the European Union said the bloc increased access to justice for victims of discriminatory attacks. Given that instruments � such as the Durban Declaration � already exist, she asked about the added value of a declaration on the right of people of African descent.

The representative of Brazil reiterated support for the negotiations that would lead to a declaration on the rights of people of African descent. He asked what the next steps are to achieve such a declaration and a permanent forum for people of African descent.

The representative of South Africa said the issue under discussion remains a priority area for the Government. The continued racism, xenophobia and discrimination faced by people of African descent must be addressed to ensure substantial equality. She expressed support for the establishment of a permanent forum for people of African descent, as well as an international instrument to promote their human rights. She asked the chair to share his views on the issue of land rights.

The representative of Mexico underscored the contributions of people of African descent to Mexican society, asking how Member States might be encouraged to highlight the contributions of their populations of African descent.

The representative of Iran said her Government rejects political discourses that stoke racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination. Iran has consistently shown its commitment to fight these scourges and she expressed regret that such hard-earned achievements are targeted for the sake of short-term political interests.

Mr. BALCERZAK, replying to queries about the added value of a declaration, said there are gaps in the legal framework prohibiting racism; there is much room for improvement. The process of elaborating such an instrument is one that reflects the Programme of Action and the International Decade. He envisioned it as a potential way to focus attention on the rights of people of African descent.

Regarding next steps, he envisioned the Working Group focusing on efficient report collection, with States participating in consultations. To the question about land rights, he believed this issue should be reflected in the draft declaration, as it relates to work carried out by other mandate holders.

Contemporary forms of Racism, Xenophobia

E. TENDAYI ACHIUME, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said resurging nationalist populism has caused racist, xenophobic and intolerant politics to become mainstream, with disastrous consequences for human rights. Populist political parties and elected officials use racist and xenophobic sentiments for political gain, stoking hate speech against minorities and racialized groups. In the most heart-breaking cases, such exclusionary speech leads to deadly violence. Nationalist populist rhetoric often champions a return to traditional values, seeking to install patriarchal, heteronormative practices and norms that severely constrain women’s autonomy and reproductive health.

She said States with active nationalist populist movements have criminalized racially and socioeconomically marginalized communities in a range of ways: restricting access to public goods, support and services; undermining individuals and groups that can promote Government accountability for racial discrimination; constraining liberal democratic and civic space; and demonizing journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders as enemies of the people, subjecting them to smears, intimidation campaigns and acts of violence.

She urged States to dismantle discriminatory structures and features of their social institutions; close racialized societal divides; and prevent the political, social and economic conditions that allow exclusionary ideologies to prosper. Civil society, the media and private individuals have an important role in tackling racist and xenophobic expression. Digital technology aided in the spread of neo-Nazism and associated ideology, turning digital platforms into vehicles for hate speech and incitement to discrimination, intolerance and violence on racial, ethnic, religious and related grounds. States must work with the private sector to combat online intolerance, with technology companies investing the resources necessary to ensure that their codes of conduct and actual practices reflect a serious commitment to racial equality.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Mexico said xenophobia is based on nationalistic leanings, usually associated with security concerns and infringes on the rights of indigenous and minority groups. He asked for lessons learned from civil society efforts to prevent violence incited on racial grounds.

The representative of South Africa expressed concern about nationalistic ideals based on racial prejudice, asking about policy measures that will help end xenophobia.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his country’s focus is on creating integrated communities. He asked about collective efforts to end racism.

The delegate of Russian Federation described a rise in Nazism, neo-Nazism and regional intolerance, including among old democracies, which threatens stability.

The representative of the European Union, underscoring the bloc’s commitment to fighting intolerance, expressed sympathy for those affected by the heinous crime carried out recently in Pittsburgh and asked for recommendations and best practices in fighting xenophobia and hate speech.

The representative of Cuba asked about measures concerning people who have died at the hands of the police.

The representative of Turkey noted the sharp increase in political parties that are racist and asked about impacts of their online activities.

The representative of Morocco asked about lessons learned in determining the limits of freedom of expression, and the start and spread of hate online.

The representative of Belgium underscored the priority of combating racism, as all people are entitled to their human rights, regardless of race.

Ms. ACHIUME echoed expressions of sympathy for the victims of the shooting that took place recently at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This attack should be a catalyst for action against hate crime. Emphasizing that political parties are not above international human rights law, she pointed out that the challenge lies in ensuring States apply the law equally across the board.

On that point, States should invest in building transnational solidarity for groups impacted by ideologies of hatred. Policymakers must take seriously episodes of racial prejudice and structures that emerge in national populist moments, such as voter suppression. Policy interventions that operate in both modes are vital, she stressed.

To fight against nationalist populism, States must recommit to racial equality and reject denials of the existence of racial discrimination. She drew attention to three methods: an intersectional approach to discrimination that actively includes women, persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in knowledge production and policy making; a structural approach to racial discrimination that acknowledges that intent is not the only marker of such prejudice; and a participatory approach that includes those on the front lines of racial subordination in the policy-making process. Freedom of expression and racial equality should not be understood has being in tension but rather as mutually reinforcing, she asserted.

Racial Discrimination

NOUREDDINE AMIR, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said combating racial discrimination is a continuous duty that requires tireless efforts. The worrisome rise of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in many countries is expressed in hate speech. Over the past year, the uptick in racist hate speech has been expressed through various channels, notably in casual discourse by public figures; it targets migrants, irrespective of their residence status, but mostly refugees and asylum seekers. It is often directed against national or ethnic minorities, spread through the media and on the Internet, he said.

Second, the Committee is alarmed over the resurgence of extremist organizations, he said, drawing attention to persistent ethno-religious tensions and clashes that permeate divisions among other groups. Heightened ethnic tensions may result in a perilous escalation of clashes. The situation of migrants poses challenges to States and laid bare the failure to provide guarantees in procedures used for determining asylum. The legacy of slavery remains vivid and deeply rooted, resulting in structural discrimination, stigma and racial profiling. On treaty body strengthening, he said the Committee continues to implement simplified procedures and has adopted four lists of issues, noting that the capacity to cope with demands depends on resources and encouraging adequate support for the treaty bodies.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Venezuela expressed concern over inhumane immigration practices in several countries, urging that this situation be resolved, especially related to the detention of children.

The representative of Spain said no country is spared of the scourge of racism, calling education a pathway in the fight against xenophobia and asking how it can play a role in fighting discrimination.

The representative of United States said that, under the guise of fighting terrorism, China has cracked down on ethnic cultures, specifically in Xinjiang against the Uighurs.

The representative of the European Union asked how the Committee can ensure that States submit their reports, and more broadly, about how it will streamline its processes.

The representative of Slovenia asked how the Committee plans to address new and old discrimination, and more specifically, cope with the workload.

The representative of China, describing racial discrimination in the United States, said prison sentences for male African Americans are 19.1 per cent higher than those for white prisoners.

Mr. AMIR replied that education should be strengthened to tackle hatred. Children must be taught to fight against discrimination, especially in industrialized countries. Early warning mechanisms should be used when problems arise and threaten peoples’ lives he said, citing the duty to protect human rights. He assured that the Committee is impartial: it centres its analyses on endogenous factors and refrains from comparing one State to another.

Regarding the Committee’s work methods, he pointed out that a few months ago he was elected chairman of the chairmen of human rights bodies. Additional financial resources would help this group standardize work methods across the committees. Further, he acknowledged that some States cannot submit reports for economic reasons, which is why a simplified procedure is being developed.

Statements

EMAD SAMIR MORCOS MATTAR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, expressed deep concern over the resurgence of contemporary forms of discrimination and intolerance around the world, as well as the misuse of communications technologies and the Internet as safe harbours for groups promoting racial superiority and hate speech. Reiterating the need for political and religious leaders and the media to adopt clear, strong and unequivocal positions against racism and intolerance, he recognized the role of the Group of Independent Eminent Experts in mobilizing political will. He also reaffirmed the critical role of education in confronting the problem, calling for campaigns to deconstruct prejudices, foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue and raise global awareness, especially among the young.

FATIMA ALFEINE (Comoros), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed alarm over the resurgence of nationalist populism around the world and condemned all forms of nationalist populist movements that advance exclusionary or repressive practices. The resurgence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is a catalyst for all Member States to move urgently towards the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, in the form of additional protocols to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Reiterating support for the creation of a Permanent Forum for People of African Descent, he said, this forum would serve as a consultation mechanism and platform for elaborating a legally binding instrument recognizing the rights of people of African descent.

RUBA�N ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBASN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, voiced support for the creation of a forum for people of African descent as consultation mechanism and service body to the African Council. Racism concerns all people and countries, he said, highlighting the need to eradicate this scourge. Acknowledging the crucial role of human rights education in preventing and eradicating racism, he drew attention to people of African descent, children, women, older persons and persons with disabilities, as well as the victims of multiple forms of discrimination. Affirmative action measures are needed to reduce inequality and disparities, and more broadly foster social inclusion and access to justice.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reiterated the bloc’s commitment to the elimination of racism and related intolerance, and reaffirmed its pledge to restore human dignity and equality to all victims of these heinous acts. The rise of racist extremist movements, based on supremacist ideologies that seek to promote racial superiority is of great concern. Drawing attention to paragraph 199 of the Durban Declaration, which instructed the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, he said such laws will fill substantive and procedural gaps in international law. He looked forward to the tenth session of the ad hoc committee on the elaboration of those standards, reiterating support for the establishment of a permanent forum for people of African Descent, and a related legally binding instrument.

GLENTIS T. THOMAS (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, expressed outrage that millions of people are still victims of racism. Stating that racial profiling of people of African descent by law enforcement agencies contravenes international legal norms, he called for those agencies to develop targeted training programmes to raise officers’ awareness of social biases that may affect their conduct. Expressing concern over the intellectual legitimization of racism by scholars and media, and the resurgence of hate groups, he called for States to ensure discrimination does not take root under the guise of patriotism and nationalism.

DORTHE WACKER, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc’s strong commitment to the fight racism, xenophobia and related intolerance is outlined in its Treaty obligations and complemented by a solid legal framework, which includes anti-discrimination legislation, notably the Racial Equality Directive, which applies in such areas as employment, social protection, education and the supply of goods and services including housing. The European Union is also equipped with legislation on combating racist and xenophobic crime, which sets a framework for a common response, obliging Member States to penalize the public incitement to violence or hatred against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

Source: United Nations

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Third Committee Experts Warn Racism, Hate Speech, White Supremacy to Become Mainstream Unless States Enforce Zero-Tolerance Policies, Prevent Exclusion

Racism, bigotry, xenophobia, nationalist populism, white supremacy and hate speech are on the rise, and often made more casual by public figures, experts told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, sounding an alarm bell against a general indifference to the perilous uptick in such behaviour.

This indifference towards the suffering of people of different ethnicity or race and lack of accountability creates the basis for structural racial discrimination, said Michal Balcerzak, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

One of three mandate holders to address the Committee, he said States must develop zero-tolerance policies towards white supremacy � and other extremist ideologies, hate speech and incitement to hatred. He reminded Governments of their commitments to address racism and racial discrimination in the Durban Declaration, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism.

Along similar lines, E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance cautioned States against adopting travel bans and crippling austerity measures that encourage the rise of nationalist populism.

Moreover, online communities offer safe harbour for groups espousing racial superiority and intolerance, she said, noting that the anonymity permitted by digital technology has shifted the extremist ideology closer to mainstream. She urged States to work with the private sector to combat online intolerance, while technology companies must ensure that their codes of conduct and actual practices reflect a serious commitment to racial equality.

Nourredine Amir, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said the rise in racist hate speech over the last year, expressed through various channels, has mainly targeted migrants, irrespective of their residence status. The resurgence of extremist organizations that incite racial hatred and ideas of racial superiority is alarming. The legacy of slavery and colonialism is deeply rooted in some countries, he said, stressing that the main victims � people of African descent, indigenous peoples and ethnic and national minorities � remain under-represented in public office.

Also today, the Committee concluded its general debate on human rights, with the United Kingdom’s delegate underscoring a collective duty to advocate for those whose rights are the most vulnerable or the least respected and all too often violated by the very Governments that have an obligation to protect them.

Small States must have a voice in ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, the representative of the Bahamas stressed.

Also speaking today were representatives of India, Cuba, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Yemen, Serbia, Bolivia, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan, Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Comoros (on behalf of the African Group), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Namibia (on behalf of Southern African Development Community (SADC)), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), as well as an observers from the State of Palestine and the European Union.

The representatives of Egypt and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

In addition, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also spoke. Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, also made introductory remarks.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 October, to continue its discussion on racism and self-determination.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to discuss the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as the right of peoples to self-determination.

Delegates had before them the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Suppl. No. 18) (document A/73/18), as well as Secretary General’s notes transmitting reports by: the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/73/312) and (document A/73/305); Group of independent eminent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action document (A/73/98); and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent document (A/73/228). A Secretariat note transmits the report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination (document A/73/303).

Also before the Committee were Secretary-General reports on: Global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/73/371); the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (document A/73/354); and the Right of peoples to self-determination (document A/73/329).

The Committee also met to close its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights. For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4235.

Statements

PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India) recalling progress made in the evolution of the normative framework, said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action � adopted at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights � place economic, social and cultural rights on par with civil and political rights, a point relevant to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The creation of human rights institutions stems from the hope placed in the United Nations to achieve equality and dignity for all. He called for an honest appraisal of whether the international community has achieved genuine improvement in human rights through its aggressive and overly intrusive methods that have lacked consultations with the country concerned.

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ BEHMARAS (Cuba) underscored his country’s will to engage in dialogue on the basis of mutual respect, equality and recognition of all peoples’ right to choose their own political institutions. He expressed support for the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and regret that the United States continues to contravene the Declaration, systematically violating human rights and demonstrating contempt for multilateralism and United Nations principles. Noting that poverty, illiteracy and lack of access to basic rights are the characteristics of an unjust international economic order, he said the statement delivered by the United States delegation is an example of an arrogant and confrontational approach that in no way contributes to the promotion and protection of human rights. The United States lack the morals to give lessons in terms of human rights, he said, adding that the Universal Periodic Review is the appropriate instrument for dealing with human rights situations in all countries without distinction or politicization. The certification of countries through unilateral lists, such as those published by the United States, are contrary to international law and the Charter, he stressed.

HAYFA ALI AHMED MATAR (Bahrain) condemned human trafficking, stressing that his country will not be a location for such practices. Drawing attention to Bahrain’s 2017 national strategy against human trafficking, he said women are respected in all spheres, including as members of a national women’s committee, while the country also hosts an international centre for women. There is another centre for dialogue, which underscores the importance of human values in broader efforts to foster coexistence and tolerance.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said his country is among the 33 that have been fully up to date in their treaty body reporting. Expressing strong support for the Universal Periodic Review, he said that last month, a working group comprised of deputy ministers was created to prepare reports destined for United Nations bodies and to oversee the implementation of their recommendations. Azerbaijan has also extended a standing invitation to special procedure mandate holders.

Ms. SINGH (Singapore) said looking after the social and economic development is key to realizing the human rights of Singaporeans. The Government’s approach has always rested on building a fair and inclusive society which preserves social harmony through policies of social integration and an impartial, independent judicial system. Singapore does not seek to be dogmatic or prescriptive about its approach, she assured, pointing out that Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) discussions have revealed that there is no one-size-fits-all model for human rights. States must appreciate each other’s unique local circumstances and engage constructively with one another, in a spirit of mutual respect.

NADYA RASHEED, an observer for the State of Palestine, said Israel’s illegal, inhumane occupation of Palestine contravenes all principles of international and human rights law. Its non-stop demolition of Palestinian homes, confiscation of land, expansion of settlements, forced displacement and constant attempts to annex land have continued unabated. The year also witnessed daily military raids, often causing death or injury, settler terror, extremist incitement against holy sites, and the detention of civilians, especially young men. All of these illegal policies and practices have been accompanied by an unending series of collective punishments, including the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. There, 2 million Palestinians have been inhumanely deprived, isolated, impoverished and traumatized for the past 10 years, forced to endure a dire health and humanitarian crisis and deplorable socio-economic conditions.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen) said his country is committed to protecting all human rights conventions during its ongoing conflict, citing various resolutions, including to protect journalists and other defenders of fundamental freedoms. The suffering in Yemen is due to a political situation that has affected all institutions. There have been numerous violations: cities are being occupied and mines have been placed. Children have been recruited into armed groups and are being used to fight; many have died under these circumstances. Several humanitarian ships have been pirated and ransoms demanded.

MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia) said that as a multi-ethnic country, it pays special attention to the rights of minorities, notably that to use minority language and script, which is a precondition for many other rights. In Serbia, 14 minority languages are provided for at all three education levels. Serbia has achieved significant results in the normative area, as well as in the implementation of laws and conventions. However, there is still room for improvement. The Government is open to cooperation with all United Nations human rights mechanisms, she said, noting that for almost two decades, Serbia has drawn attention to problems encountered by the non-Albanian population in its southern province of Kosovo and Metohija.

LILIANA STEPHANIE OROPEZA ACOSTA (Bolivia), associating with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), described a sense of going backward amid increasing inequality. While there have been considerable gains made, a systematic patriarchal system persists, making gender equality a priority of various programmes and of the electoral law. In addressing land titles, Bolivia has increased the percentage of women who own land from 10 per cent to 45 per cent. Through the economic law, Bolivia offers grants to people with disabilities, and recognizes farmers’ collective rights as inherent, with their right to land prioritized as essential to ensuring food security. Bolivia will submit a draft resolution on farmers’ rights.

AGNES COUTOU, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), describing a global crisis of the missing, said a search is underway for over 100,000 persons worldwide � the highest number ever, yet it is only the tip of the iceberg. He called for early and preventive action. The intergenerational impact of such unresolved cases shapes the history of families and societies and can hamper peace prospects. Today’s wars involve groups and individuals from various countries, multiplying the number of stakeholders affected and making collaboration a real challenge. He emphasized the importance of preventing people from going missing, dead or alive, by registering those deprived of liberty, centralizing missing person information, recording gravesites, and ensuring identification and dignified management of human remains. Impartiality is the golden rule for such measures, he said, stressing that families have the right under international humanitarian law to know the fate of their missing relatives.

KIERAN GORMAN-BEST, speaking on behalf of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), noted there are 258 million migrants globally, a number that is growing more quickly than ever before. Migrants face racial discrimination and abuse. Those in irregular situations are especially vulnerable and often afraid to file complaints due to being in situations of extreme isolation and marginalization. Reaching target 10.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals requires that States ensure safe and equal access to justice to all migrants, regardless of status, and that the human rights, safety, and dignity of all individuals are incorporated into migration policies.

Ms. ALZOUMAN (Kuwait), describing the human rights of foreigners working in his country and the need to raise their living standards, said the Government appreciates them as partners. Kuwait attaches importance to human rights and has ratified various instruments, in accordance with its Constitution. It has taken part in various forums and has made voluntary contributions to promote human rights. On the situation in Myanmar, which the Government has closely followed, he stressed the need to ensure human rights are respected. On the crisis in Syria, Kuwait sought to foster dialogue with a view to achieving reconciliation. He called for the perpetrators of crimes to be brought to justice.

MARIPAZ MIKUE ONDO ENGONGA (Equatorial Guinea) said respect for human rights is a priority for her country. By promoting the new Constitution and enacting it, the Government lent further impetus to social development. It adopted a national development plan to strengthen human capital and foster citizens’ well-being. Roads were built to improve access to rural areas and financial programmes were put in place to support the marketing of rural products. She called on all Member States to take the necessary measures to promote and protect human rights.

SHEILA CAREY (Bahamas) stressed that small States must have a voice in ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Recalling her country’s recent election to the Human Rights Council as the first English-speaking small island developing State in the Caribbean, she said that while retaining the death penalty for crimes only considered the worst of the worst, she said the last mandated execution took place 17 years ago, even in the absence of a formal moratorium. There are no inmates presently on death row. Turning to efforts to empower women and girls, she highlighted various urban and rural community forums, information-sharing meetings, domestic violence programmes and the consistent participation in women-related local, regional and international conferences, in particular through its membership on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that, while all humans are born equal in dignity and rights, there are wide differences in their enjoyment of them. People are denied the right to marry the person they love or the ability to form a family. People flee to neighbouring countries to escape sexual violence, slaughter or ethnic cleansing. People are poisoned in foreign countries in struggles of succession, because they chose to live in freedom or criticize repressive regimes. Journalists are detained, tortured or killed for seeking out the truth or speaking truth to power. The world’s shared humanity dictates that everyone should care, she said, urging action. What is more, nations that respect human rights and the rule of law provide the best conditions for development, economic growth, peace and stability.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has served as a catalyst for progress. And yet, egregious and systematic rights violations take place every day, such as India’s constant denial of the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are subject to repression and ruthless abuses at the hand of occupying forces. This situation demands immediate and urgent action. Underlining that economic and social rights facilitate the realization of civil and political rights, she expressed support for the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs, who must discharge their responsibilities with full independence, within their mandates, with impartiality, transparency, non-selectivity and without any politicization.

CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said world hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row, with the absolute number of undernourished people at nearly 821 million in 2017. Agricultural workers are among the most food insecure. Small producers, usually residing in rural areas, are responsible for the production of 70 per cent of global food. Yet, hunger strikes the hardest in these areas. She reaffirmed FAO’s support to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.

Right of Reply

The representative of Egypt, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, refuted allegations by the European Union’s delegate, which he called misconstrued and selectively targeted against his country under the guise of concern over human rights. Journalists and other human rights defenders had violated laws and faced guilty verdicts. They cannot be exempt from the consequences of having disrespected Egypt’s law. It is ironic that the European Union accuses others of such violations, when the freedom of association and expression are under attack in many parts of Europe, especially the right to protest. He cited in that context federal police powers in Germany and rights violations in the United Kingdom against minorities and persons with disabilities.

The representative of Israel said he would address the false accusations against his country at a later time.

Interactive Dialogues

ANDREW GILMOUR, Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights, presented two reports by the Secretary-General on the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The first report (document A/73/371) deals with the comprehensive implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, underscoring the need to take urgent measures to reverse the worrisome trends of violence and increasingly hostile racist and xenophobic attitudes.

He said the second report (document A/73/354) focuses on the implementation of the activities of the International Decade of People of African Descent. It provides and overview of experiences of racial profiling encountered by people of African descent, highlights the applicable legal framework and documents good practices. The practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies is not only contrary to international legal norms, but also ineffective, he stressed.

He also presented the Secretary-General’s report (document A/73/329) on the right of peoples to self-determination, which summarizes discussions and decisions by the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Human rights treaty bodies continue to elaborate the right to self-determination through their jurisprudence, which may prove useful to all States seeking to fulfil their obligation under international law. States must refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other States and thereby affect the exercise of the right to self-determination, he stated.

People of African Descent

MICAL BALCDRZAK, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, presenting the Working Group’s report (document A/73/228) expressed concern over the increasingly open, often tolerated manifestations of racism and xenophobia, as well as over the indifference towards ethnic inequality, racial colour-blindness and a lack of engagement on race-related issues. During the reporting period, the Working Group had visited Guyana and Spain.

Turning first to Guyana, he expressed concern over the length of judicial proceedings and overcrowded prisons, recommending that the members of the Human Rights Commission be appointed without delay and noting that there are gaps between the law and practice in protecting people of African descent from racism, xenophobia and Afrophobia. In Spain, he said the Group is concerned about the plight of migrant workers who live in appalling conditions, and about the collective expulsions and pushbacks at the borders of Spain in Ceuta and Melilla. He recalled the commitments Member States had made to address racism in the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, as well as in the activities programme for implementing the International Decade for People of African Descent.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Morocco voiced regret over the increase in discriminatory practices against certain people of African descent, which hinder development. She asked about the challenges faced in elaborating a declaration on the rights of people of African descent.

The representative of the European Union said the bloc increased access to justice for victims of discriminatory attacks. Given that instruments � such as the Durban Declaration � already exist, she asked about the added value of a declaration on the right of people of African descent.

The representative of Brazil reiterated support for the negotiations that would lead to a declaration on the rights of people of African descent. He asked what the next steps are to achieve such a declaration and a permanent forum for people of African descent.

The representative of South Africa said the issue under discussion remains a priority area for the Government. The continued racism, xenophobia and discrimination faced by people of African descent must be addressed to ensure substantial equality. She expressed support for the establishment of a permanent forum for people of African descent, as well as an international instrument to promote their human rights. She asked the chair to share his views on the issue of land rights.

The representative of Mexico underscored the contributions of people of African descent to Mexican society, asking how Member States might be encouraged to highlight the contributions of their populations of African descent.

The representative of Iran said her Government rejects political discourses that stoke racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination. Iran has consistently shown its commitment to fight these scourges and she expressed regret that such hard-earned achievements are targeted for the sake of short-term political interests.

Mr. BALCERZAK, replying to queries about the added value of a declaration, said there are gaps in the legal framework prohibiting racism; there is much room for improvement. The process of elaborating such an instrument is one that reflects the Programme of Action and the International Decade. He envisioned it as a potential way to focus attention on the rights of people of African descent.

Regarding next steps, he envisioned the Working Group focusing on efficient report collection, with States participating in consultations. To the question about land rights, he believed this issue should be reflected in the draft declaration, as it relates to work carried out by other mandate holders.

Contemporary forms of Racism, Xenophobia

E. TENDAYI ACHIUME, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said resurging nationalist populism has caused racist, xenophobic and intolerant politics to become mainstream, with disastrous consequences for human rights. Populist political parties and elected officials use racist and xenophobic sentiments for political gain, stoking hate speech against minorities and racialized groups. In the most heart-breaking cases, such exclusionary speech leads to deadly violence. Nationalist populist rhetoric often champions a return to traditional values, seeking to install patriarchal, heteronormative practices and norms that severely constrain women’s autonomy and reproductive health.

She said States with active nationalist populist movements have criminalized racially and socioeconomically marginalized communities in a range of ways: restricting access to public goods, support and services; undermining individuals and groups that can promote Government accountability for racial discrimination; constraining liberal democratic and civic space; and demonizing journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders as enemies of the people, subjecting them to smears, intimidation campaigns and acts of violence.

She urged States to dismantle discriminatory structures and features of their social institutions; close racialized societal divides; and prevent the political, social and economic conditions that allow exclusionary ideologies to prosper. Civil society, the media and private individuals have an important role in tackling racist and xenophobic expression. Digital technology aided in the spread of neo-Nazism and associated ideology, turning digital platforms into vehicles for hate speech and incitement to discrimination, intolerance and violence on racial, ethnic, religious and related grounds. States must work with the private sector to combat online intolerance, with technology companies investing the resources necessary to ensure that their codes of conduct and actual practices reflect a serious commitment to racial equality.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Mexico said xenophobia is based on nationalistic leanings, usually associated with security concerns and infringes on the rights of indigenous and minority groups. He asked for lessons learned from civil society efforts to prevent violence incited on racial grounds.

The representative of South Africa expressed concern about nationalistic ideals based on racial prejudice, asking about policy measures that will help end xenophobia.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his country’s focus is on creating integrated communities. He asked about collective efforts to end racism.

The delegate of Russian Federation described a rise in Nazism, neo-Nazism and regional intolerance, including among old democracies, which threatens stability.

The representative of the European Union, underscoring the bloc’s commitment to fighting intolerance, expressed sympathy for those affected by the heinous crime carried out recently in Pittsburgh and asked for recommendations and best practices in fighting xenophobia and hate speech.

The representative of Cuba asked about measures concerning people who have died at the hands of the police.

The representative of Turkey noted the sharp increase in political parties that are racist and asked about impacts of their online activities.

The representative of Morocco asked about lessons learned in determining the limits of freedom of expression, and the start and spread of hate online.

The representative of Belgium underscored the priority of combating racism, as all people are entitled to their human rights, regardless of race.

Ms. ACHIUME echoed expressions of sympathy for the victims of the shooting that took place recently at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This attack should be a catalyst for action against hate crime. Emphasizing that political parties are not above international human rights law, she pointed out that the challenge lies in ensuring States apply the law equally across the board.

On that point, States should invest in building transnational solidarity for groups impacted by ideologies of hatred. Policymakers must take seriously episodes of racial prejudice and structures that emerge in national populist moments, such as voter suppression. Policy interventions that operate in both modes are vital, she stressed.

To fight against nationalist populism, States must recommit to racial equality and reject denials of the existence of racial discrimination. She drew attention to three methods: an intersectional approach to discrimination that actively includes women, persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in knowledge production and policy making; a structural approach to racial discrimination that acknowledges that intent is not the only marker of such prejudice; and a participatory approach that includes those on the front lines of racial subordination in the policy-making process. Freedom of expression and racial equality should not be understood has being in tension but rather as mutually reinforcing, she asserted.

Racial Discrimination

NOUREDDINE AMIR, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said combating racial discrimination is a continuous duty that requires tireless efforts. The worrisome rise of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in many countries is expressed in hate speech. Over the past year, the uptick in racist hate speech has been expressed through various channels, notably in casual discourse by public figures; it targets migrants, irrespective of their residence status, but mostly refugees and asylum seekers. It is often directed against national or ethnic minorities, spread through the media and on the Internet, he said.

Second, the Committee is alarmed over the resurgence of extremist organizations, he said, drawing attention to persistent ethno-religious tensions and clashes that permeate divisions among other groups. Heightened ethnic tensions may result in a perilous escalation of clashes. The situation of migrants poses challenges to States and laid bare the failure to provide guarantees in procedures used for determining asylum. The legacy of slavery remains vivid and deeply rooted, resulting in structural discrimination, stigma and racial profiling. On treaty body strengthening, he said the Committee continues to implement simplified procedures and has adopted four lists of issues, noting that the capacity to cope with demands depends on resources and encouraging adequate support for the treaty bodies.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Venezuela expressed concern over inhumane immigration practices in several countries, urging that this situation be resolved, especially related to the detention of children.

The representative of Spain said no country is spared of the scourge of racism, calling education a pathway in the fight against xenophobia and asking how it can play a role in fighting discrimination.

The representative of United States said that, under the guise of fighting terrorism, China has cracked down on ethnic cultures, specifically in Xinjiang against the Uighurs.

The representative of the European Union asked how the Committee can ensure that States submit their reports, and more broadly, about how it will streamline its processes.

The representative of Slovenia asked how the Committee plans to address new and old discrimination, and more specifically, cope with the workload.

The representative of China, describing racial discrimination in the United States, said prison sentences for male African Americans are 19.1 per cent higher than those for white prisoners.

Mr. AMIR replied that education should be strengthened to tackle hatred. Children must be taught to fight against discrimination, especially in industrialized countries. Early warning mechanisms should be used when problems arise and threaten peoples’ lives he said, citing the duty to protect human rights. He assured that the Committee is impartial: it centres its analyses on endogenous factors and refrains from comparing one State to another.

Regarding the Committee’s work methods, he pointed out that a few months ago he was elected chairman of the chairmen of human rights bodies. Additional financial resources would help this group standardize work methods across the committees. Further, he acknowledged that some States cannot submit reports for economic reasons, which is why a simplified procedure is being developed.

Statements

EMAD SAMIR MORCOS MATTAR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, expressed deep concern over the resurgence of contemporary forms of discrimination and intolerance around the world, as well as the misuse of communications technologies and the Internet as safe harbours for groups promoting racial superiority and hate speech. Reiterating the need for political and religious leaders and the media to adopt clear, strong and unequivocal positions against racism and intolerance, he recognized the role of the Group of Independent Eminent Experts in mobilizing political will. He also reaffirmed the critical role of education in confronting the problem, calling for campaigns to deconstruct prejudices, foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue and raise global awareness, especially among the young.

FATIMA ALFEINE (Comoros), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed alarm over the resurgence of nationalist populism around the world and condemned all forms of nationalist populist movements that advance exclusionary or repressive practices. The resurgence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is a catalyst for all Member States to move urgently towards the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, in the form of additional protocols to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Reiterating support for the creation of a Permanent Forum for People of African Descent, he said, this forum would serve as a consultation mechanism and platform for elaborating a legally binding instrument recognizing the rights of people of African descent.

RUBA�N ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBASN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, voiced support for the creation of a forum for people of African descent as consultation mechanism and service body to the African Council. Racism concerns all people and countries, he said, highlighting the need to eradicate this scourge. Acknowledging the crucial role of human rights education in preventing and eradicating racism, he drew attention to people of African descent, children, women, older persons and persons with disabilities, as well as the victims of multiple forms of discrimination. Affirmative action measures are needed to reduce inequality and disparities, and more broadly foster social inclusion and access to justice.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reiterated the bloc’s commitment to the elimination of racism and related intolerance, and reaffirmed its pledge to restore human dignity and equality to all victims of these heinous acts. The rise of racist extremist movements, based on supremacist ideologies that seek to promote racial superiority is of great concern. Drawing attention to paragraph 199 of the Durban Declaration, which instructed the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, he said such laws will fill substantive and procedural gaps in international law. He looked forward to the tenth session of the ad hoc committee on the elaboration of those standards, reiterating support for the establishment of a permanent forum for people of African Descent, and a related legally binding instrument.

GLENTIS T. THOMAS (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, expressed outrage that millions of people are still victims of racism. Stating that racial profiling of people of African descent by law enforcement agencies contravenes international legal norms, he called for those agencies to develop targeted training programmes to raise officers’ awareness of social biases that may affect their conduct. Expressing concern over the intellectual legitimization of racism by scholars and media, and the resurgence of hate groups, he called for States to ensure discrimination does not take root under the guise of patriotism and nationalism.

DORTHE WACKER, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc’s strong commitment to the fight racism, xenophobia and related intolerance is outlined in its Treaty obligations and complemented by a solid legal framework, which includes anti-discrimination legislation, notably the Racial Equality Directive, which applies in such areas as employment, social protection, education and the supply of goods and services including housing. The European Union is also equipped with legislation on combating racist and xenophobic crime, which sets a framework for a common response, obliging Member States to penalize the public incitement to violence or hatred against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

Source: United Nations

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