Ignoring Historical Links to Modern Racism, Xenophobia only Emboldens Extremist Ideologies, Experts Tell Third Committee, Calling for ‘Honest Debate’
Failure to acknowledge historical links to modern racism would embolden extremist ideologies, experts warned the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as it launched its discussion on ways to eliminate racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Experts monitoring the implementation of United Nations human rights treaties and Member States alike voiced deep concern over the rise of racist rhetoric and resurgence of Nazism as political tools, calling for targeted efforts to address root causes of discrimination.
Sabelo Gumedze, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on Peoples of African Descent, said structural racism remained pervasive, adding that people of African descent faced extreme violence, racial bias and hate. Meeting their particular needs required an honest debate about history and its connection to modern racism, he said, calling for tailored programmes to combat structural racism and racial discrimination. The Sustainable Development Goals presented opportunities for action to ensure that no one, including people of African descent, was left behind, he stressed.
Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, voiced concern over the rise of political extremism and populist movements that normalized such behaviour. Referencing Nazism, he said the resurgence of such groups was “shockingly akin to the dark days of the 1940s”. Any commemoration celebrating the Nazi regime, whether official or non‑official, should be denounced and prohibited by States.
Among those facing increasing discrimination were migrant women, said Anastasia Crickley, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, stressing that States could not “turn a blind eye” to the abuses faced by migrants. She called on Governments to mainstream gender issues into the agenda, end hate speech and violence against migrants and refugees, and stop racial profiling.
In the ensuing dialogue, the European Union’s representative said that no country was free from racism, while Myanmar’s delegate blamed mistrust for deepening divisions among racial groups and politicizing the social climate.
Throughout the day, Member States participating in the general debate repeatedly condemned the growing incitement of hatred and intolerance.
South Africa’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), recalled the region’s experience with harsh racial discrimination perpetrated during the apartheid regime and urged the international community to fight the resurgence of that abusive behaviour.
Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called on political and religious leaders and the media to combat those practices. Bahamas’ delegate, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said racism, discrimination and xenophobia were being perpetuated under the guise of nationalism and patriotism. Women of African descent suffered disproportionately from poverty, he added.
Noting the rise of anti‑Semitic speech online, Israel’s delegate pressed States to focus on education, which taught that there was no superior race, religion or culture. Indonesia’s representative also noted that combating hate required education and awareness-raising geared towards social harmony.
To truly address hatred, the international community must accept its collective responsibility to eliminate racism and discrimination, said Iceland’s representative.
Also making presentations today were Hui Lu, Chief, Intergovernmental Affairs, Outreach and Programme Support Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Gabor Rona, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination; and Taonga Mushayavanhu, Chair-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards.
The following representatives also spoke: El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)), Canada (also on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland), Egypt, Colombia, Russian Federation, Iraq, Brazil, United States, Iran, India, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Canada, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and Gabon, as did representatives of the European Union, State of Palestine and the Holy See.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 November, to continue its discussion of racism and self-determination.
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 a report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its eighty‑seventh and eighty‑eighth sessions (document A/72/18), as well as the Secretary-General’s reports on: programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (document A/72/323); a global call for action 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/72/324); and the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/72/317).
Delegates also had before them notes by the Secretary-General transmitting two reports of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on: combatting the glorification of Nazism (document A/72/291), and challenges related to combating terrorism (document A/72/287). Another note transmitted the report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/72/286).
Finally, delegates had before them notes by the Secretariat transmitting the report of the Group of independent eminent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/72/285) and on the report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (document A/72/319).
HUI LU, Chief, Intergovernmental Affairs, Outreach and Programme Support Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), introduced four reports, first describing that by the Group of independent eminent exerts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/72/285), which outlined their actions. The Secretary-General’s report on activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent (document A/72/323) stressed the importance of promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls of African descent.
She said the Secretary-General’s report on the 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/72/324) concluded that, despite encouraging measures adopted by some Member States, worrying trends included increasingly hostile racist and xenophobic attitudes and violence.
Finally, she said the Secretary-General’s report on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/72/317) summarized discussions and decisions related to achieving that right in the framework of activities by the Human Rights Council, its special procedures and the treaty bodies.
Interactive Dialogues — Peoples of African Descent
SABELO GUMEDZE, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on Peoples of African Descent, said the International Decade for People of African Descent and the Sustainable Development Goals presented opportunities for action to ensure that no one, including people of African descent, was left behind. The Working Group had tailored programmes to combat structural racism and racial discrimination, he said, calling on States to collect disaggregated data, as information gathering must account for income, race, age, race and other variables.
Describing visits to Canada and Germany, he commended Canada’s efforts to address racial discrimination, and promote human rights and diversity. However, he expressed concern over structural racism persisting in many institutions, and the overrepresentation of people of African descent in the criminal justice system. He encouraged measures to foster integration at all levels of Government. Turning to Germany, he commended efforts to address discrimination and accept large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. Still, the lives of people of African descent continued to be marked by negative stereotypes and structural racism. He urged the Government to focus on eliminating discrimination in education, politics and public institutions.
Civil society played a critical role in the Working Group, through monitoring and reporting of racism and discrimination, he assured. Greater action was needed to address extreme violence, racial bias and hate faced by people of African descent, he said, adding that combating the causes of such abuse required honest debate about history and its connection to modern racism. He concluded by calling for consensus so that the Forum for People of African Descent could be held as soon as possible.
When the floor opened, the representative of South Africa agreed it was imperative that work in the field be anchored by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adding that the Forum for People of African Descent was an important platform for giving a voice to the voiceless.
The representative of the European Union asked the Chair to elaborate on the proposed way forward, and also asked if the Working Group had decided on future areas of thematic reporting.
The representative of Morocco asked the Working Group Chair about the view of the experts on the proposal to elaborate a declaration on people of African descent.
The representative of Brazil asked how the report’s analysis could continue, noting that among its recommendations was a suggestion for further cooperation with the Forum.
The representative of Mexico thanked the Chair for the report’s focus on sustainable development, agreeing that there was an opportunity to take real action. He asked about minimum standards for inclusion of persons of African descent.
Mr. GUMEDZE replied that once people of African descent identified themselves as such within disaggregated data, projects would focus on them. As far as the operational guidelines were concerned, he said one session specifically addressed the Sustainable Development Goals. Regarding the proposed way forward on the thematic report, he said the Working Group would meet in November, and then adopt a theme for next year. The Working Group was guided by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and as far as the Decade was concerned, the Working Group was guided by States. The focus on leaving no one behind was an important perspective, he said, noting that without people of African descent, the Goals would not be achieved. They must be involved in national planning processes.
Use of Mercenaries
GABOR RONA, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, said his report focused on the use of private security companies in places where liberty was deprived, and the impact on human rights, particularly in prisons and immigration-related detention facilities. The report highlighted the need to protect against human rights abuses by non‑State entities carrying out services that traditionally belonged to the State. Adding a profit motive to the mix greatly augmented legitimate concerns about respect for human rights of persons deprived of their liberty, the report found.
Facilities run by private security companies presented a heightened risk of human rights violations, he said, due to the control those companies exerted, and the lack of transparency and access to grievance mechanisms for detainees to report complaints and violations. Abuses included violence inflicted by company personnel, medical negligence leading to death and sexual abuse. He also objected to anti‑immigrant policies that had led to a marked increase in the detention of undocumented migrants, partly due to lobbying by private security firms. In the United States, 73 per cent of some 40,000 migrants detained were held in such facilities. He recommended that States terminate such outsourcing of prisons and detention facilities, and in the meantime, improve oversight to track the performance of company personnel. Functions — such as the punishment of detainees involving computation of sentences, the placement and release of detainees, and the granting of temporary leave — should not be outsourced to private contractors. Companies should establish accountability, oversight and remedy mechanisms for human rights violations, and contracts with private contractors should comply with due diligence rules. He also urged that alternatives to detention be used for undocumented migrants.
The representative of Mexico agreed that persons imprisoned in private institutions were disproportionately vulnerable and asked if the Working Group considered referring its recommendations to the intergovernmental conference on international migration. He also asked if anything could be done to strengthen consular powers of States.
The representative of the European Union noted the Working Group had a clear mandate to address issues of mercenaries and expressed concern over the extension of its work to include private military and security contractors. Noting concerns over links between terror and mercenaries, she said a clearer focus on mercenaries would improve the Working Group’s efforts.
The representative of the United Kingdom expressed concern over the Working Group extending its mandate to include private military and security contractors. She said private prisons were subject to the same inspections as publicly managed ones and reiterated calls for the Working Group to focus on its mandate.
Mr. RONA, responding, said the Working Group had not yet considered sharing its recommendations with the intergovernmental conference on international migration and would follow-up on that matter. He said failures of consular notification had not yet been considered, as it was unclear if that was in line with the Working Group’s mandate.
He said States were confused in their interpretation of the mandate, noting that the Working Group was aware that private military contractors were not mercenaries. Private contractors were being considered because the mandate, as outlined by the Human Rights Council, did in fact include those groups. He said mercenaries and private contractors performed similar functions during armed conflict, and presented risks to human rights. Private contractors could not be allowed to fall through jurisdictional cracks, he asserted.
ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said over the past year, the Committee had focused on human rights abuses of women belonging to minority groups. She called on States parties to study the causes of that phenomenon and integrate gender and ethnic perspectives into targeted measures. She also called for ending labour exploitation, especially to protect migrant women employed as domestic workers from abuse. States could not “turn a blind eye” to human rights abuses of migrants, she said, and the lack of firm denunciation by States about arbitrary detentions, racial profiling and human trafficking had only increased migrants’ vulnerability.
The Committee had repeatedly addressed the plight of migrants. She urged States to fulfil their obligations to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and further, to uphold the principle of non‑refoulement without discrimination, halt hate speech and violence against migrants and refugees, and stop racial profiling. There were 178 States parties to the Convention, five of which had signed but failed to ratify it, including Myanmar, where “reports of egregious manifestations of racial discrimination towards the Rohingya people in Rakhine State have been described by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and others as ethnic cleansing.” She called on Myanmar to ratify and implement the Convention. Touching on work methods, she said the Committee had held three sessions and examined 20 reports over the year, and continued to implement the simplified reporting procedure. To date, six States had agreed to be examined under that simplified process.
When the floor opened, the representative of the European Union expressed full support to the Committee, saying no country could be considered free from racism and that the bloc viewed the International Convention as the main way to eliminate it at all levels. She expressed concern over the number of overdue reports and, noting its greater use of early-warning and urgent procedures, asked the Chair to assess the usefulness and effectiveness of those tools.
The representative of Brazil asked what measures the Chair would recommend to promote better coordination among bodies addressing racial discrimination.
The representative of Ireland asked the Chair to identify political or social trends as drivers of racism and other forms of intolerance. He also asked the Chair to evaluate how the treaty body reform process could be used in the context of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The representative of Iraq said the preambular portion of his country’s Constitution underscored its commitment to equal rights for all Iraqis.
The representative of Myanmar said her country was a multi‑ethnic society with a long history of faiths coexisting in harmony. But there was mistrust between communities, she noted, adding that however good intentions were, the issue had been very politicized. “No country is perfect,” she said, and Governments must work to find solutions, adding that democratic transitions were difficult undertakings.
The representative of Morocco, recalling that the Committee was the first instrument adopted by the United Nations, said racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were on the rise globally. He asked the Chair about opportunities in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end those abuses and to evaluate the efficiency of existing follow-up mechanisms.
The representative of the Russian Federation, drawing attention to an issue hindering implementation of the International Convention, asked whether the Committee would carry out information campaigns describing activities that appealed to States that had reservations to the International Convention so they would remove those reservations.
Ms. CRICKLEY, responding, said the Committee was concerned over securing universal ratification of the International Convention and ensuring consistent reporting. Reporting fatigue and treaty body reform went hand in hand, she said, citing the need to ensure countries could report in an efficient and organized manner. The Committee was engaging with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, she stressed, noting that racial discrimination must be addressed across all the Goals.
Turning to questions of migrants, she said women migrants faced structural inequalities when looking for employment. She said she understood the sensitivity of the situation in Myanmar, adding that assistance in line with the International Convention could only be made available if Myanmar signed and ratified that instrument.
She said early-warning and urgent action procedures were important mechanisms that allowed the Committee to respond to developing events. The protection of human rights required energy and resources, she said, stressing that States had volunteered to conduct such work.
FABIÁN GARCÍA PAZ Y MIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, condemned the growing incitement of hatred and intolerance, racial profiling and negative stereotyping propagated through new communications technologies, the Internet and media. He called on political and religious leaders and the media to combat those practices, citing a lack of progress in the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention. Highlighting the critical role of education in combating messages of racism and racial discrimination, awareness-raising and education could help combat messages of racism and racial discrimination, he said, calling for policies that encouraged citizens and institutions to end such behaviour.
He welcomed the activities planned during the International Decade for People of African Descent, notably the establishment of a consultative forum and draft declaration. He expressed support for the Durban Declaration follow-up mechanisms and emphasized the need for resources, including by reactivating the trust fund of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. He also expressed hope that the resolution on global efforts to eliminate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance would be adopted by consensus.
Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed the Community’s commitment to the follow-up of the International Decade for People of African Descent and creation of the Forum for People of African Descent. Racism was a concern to all peoples and countries, and thus, there was a global responsibility to end it. He expressed concern that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance continued to negatively impact civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
He recognized the role of human rights education and cultural diversity in preventing and eliminating racism and racial discrimination. He advocated special attention for people of African descent, particularly children, adolescents, women, older persons, persons with disabilities and victims of multiple forms of discrimination. To that end, he encouraged the adoption of affirmative actions to reduce disparities and inequalities, and to promote access to justice for people of African descent.
SHEILA CAREY (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed concern about the intellectual legitimatization of racism and xenophobia by scholars, the media and, in some cases, leaders expected to act as societal examples. The resurgence of hate groups and proponents of extremist political ideologies, which thrived on messages of racism, xenophobia and discrimination under the guise of patriotism and nationalism, was worrisome. While respecting the rights to freedom of expression and conscience, as well as to association and assembly, it was important for States to ensure that discrimination, racism and xenophobia did not take root.
She also voiced concern that women of African descent continued to suffer disproportionately high rates of poverty, and faced barriers to education, health services and political participation, even in countries where women were increasingly represented at the executive and legislative branches of Government. As Member States implemented the 2030 Agenda, they must be aware of the need to ensure that all peoples, especially marginalized, discriminated and excluded groups, benefited from and were made stakeholders in sustainable development. Every effort must be made to ensure that minorities received adequate attention in the design, implementation and monitoring of all sustainable development programmes and initiatives.
EPHRAIM LESHALA MMINELE (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and the African Group, recalled that his region had experienced harsh racial discrimination perpetuated by the apartheid Government. As such, he expressed alarm at the resurgence of racism and racial discrimination around the world, urging the international community to address them. He welcomed the recent Human Rights Council decision to begin negotiations on complementary standards to the International Convention in 2018, as such standards were necessary to address xenophobia, islamophobia, racial profiling, anti‑Semitism and incitement of hatred. They would also ensure maximum protection, adequate remedies for victims and zero impunity for perpetrators.
He went on to reiterate support for establishing a Forum for People of African Descent, and a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of People of African Descent. Both of those would foster implementation of the programme activities of the International Decade and beyond, as well as provide a platform for attaining substantive equality. He emphasized the need for relevant States to offer to host regional conferences on establishing that Forum, with a view to making contributions on its format, structure and content. He also looked forward to the adoption of the resolution on a global call for action to eliminate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and on the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, to be tabled.
CAMERON JON JELINSKI,(Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, called on States to become parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance persisted, holding people back from common economic, social, cultural and political progress. Victims faced barriers to housing, education, employment and social services, experiencing economic exclusion and negative health and education outcomes, often with intergenerational impacts.
He said institutional measures to address racism were indispensable but insufficient, recalling that individuals, families, communities, schools and workplaces were obliged to ensure that racism was eradicated. Leaders also could set a respectful tone, he said, pressing States to work towards building more inclusive societies, which would allow them to share the fruits of peace, security, justice and prosperity.
DÖRTHE WACKER, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc placed enormous emphasis on the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. As a result, it had developed a robust legal framework to ensure that manifestations of those attitudes would be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties. It also provided support for victims of such crimes and rigorously monitored the transposition and implementation of legislation by all Member States. In response to the worrying trends of biased online speech that incited violence and hatred, the European Union had initiated dialogue with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google, which had led to a Code of Conduct in 2016.
Moreover, she said the bloc had taken part in the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, among other follow-up bodies, from a belief in the importance of the International Convention. She encouraged more acceptances of that instrument, which in turn would allow the Committee to be financed from the regular United Nations budget. Citing the New Consensus on Development, aligning the bloc’s development policy with the 2030 Agenda, she said it was high time to step up efforts to promote the economic social rights of women and girls. In some countries, education attainment results of girls with indigenous or minority backgrounds were better than those of their male peers, who often were more exposed to racially motivated violence.
MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt) described a global resurgence in xenophobia, intolerance, racism and discrimination, noting that populist leaders and right-wing political movements and parties had based their platforms on fomenting incitement, hatred and social exclusion of particular religious, ethnic and national groups. Growing xenophobia and intolerance contravened fundamental rights and freedoms. He called for international action that would prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas. Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories also violated the fundamental rights of the Palestinians and he pressed the United Nations to ensure that Palestinians could enjoy the right to self-determination.
MAURICIO CARABALI BAQUERO (Colombia) said diversity enriched society. His country’s constitution provided the basic framework to combat all types of discrimination and included 30 articles which protected ethnic groups from such behaviour. It also ensured equal opportunity and equity, and called for affirmative action to help marginalized groups. The International Decade for People of African Descent was a huge opportunity to implement public policies that fought racism and discrimination, he said, adding that in Colombia, perpetrators of racism could be jailed for 12 to 36 months. The country had also outlawed discrimination against people with disabilities.
NELLY SHILO (Israel) said diversity should be embraced and warned that the concept had been misunderstood by some and corrupted by racism, anti‑Semitism and Islamophobia. Too many people used their power to divide, she asserted, calling for a united fight against racism. Recalling that anti‑Semitism incessantly plagued the Jewish people, she cited some 250,000 instances of hate speech online to stress that, as social media transcended borders, big data companies must play a role in fighting online racism. Combating intolerance required a focus on education, which taught that there was no superior race, religion or culture.
Mr. LUKIANTSEV (Russian Federation) said the past year had seen greater use of racist rhetoric by politicians, which was particularly troubling and fundamentally contradicted the promotion of human rights. In parts of Europe, Nazi collaborators had been commemorated as national heroes, with a war being waged against those who fought Nazism and the concept of racial superiority. International mechanisms to combat racism must be strengthened and protections afforded to “non‑citizens” and minority groups in Baltic States. Moreover, legal measures that deteriorated protections of minority languages, including in Ukraine, was a clear concern, he said, noting that the right to self-determination was enshrined in international law and calling for a break to colonial traditions.
ACHSANUL HABIB (Indonesia) said fostering dialogue, tolerance and respect for diversity was essential for combating racial discrimination and intolerance. He voiced support for the comprehensive implementation and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, stressing the importance of fighting discrimination in an inclusive manner that involved civil society, academia and the media. Islamophobia, glorification of Nazism and other practices which fuelled racism and racial discrimination should be condemned, he said, and the legal, policy and institutional measures to combat racism observed. Education and awareness-raising focused on social harmony were also essential.
Racism, Glorification of Nazism
MUTUMA RUTEERE, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, presented two reports, the first of which addressed challenges linked to combating such behaviour in the current counter‑terrorism context. Expressing concern that some Governments used the fight against terrorism to justify the continuous repression of ethnic minorities, he said many States had adopted legislation with vague or overly broad definitions of terrorism, which had led to policing practices that targeted racial and ethnic minority communities. Reviewing legal and normative frameworks seeking to combat racism and xenophobia while countering terrorism, he said it was important for counter‑terrorism measures to comply with principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non‑discrimination.
He said his second report was on the implementation of resolution 71/179 on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that fuelled racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Any commemorative celebration of the Nazi regime and its crimes against humanity, whether official or non‑official, should be denounced and prohibited by States, he said, adding that any legislative or constitutional measure adopted to counter extremist political parties, movements or groups — including neo‑Nazis and skinhead groups — should conform with international human rights standards. The rise of political extremism and populist movements seeking to normalize racism and discrimination was a serious challenge. In many ways, he said, the resurgence of racism and xenophobia through populism and extremist movements had made the present “shockingly akin to the dark days of the 1940s”.
When the floor opened for questions, the representative of Belgium, associating herself with the European Union, said a purely security-based approach to terrorism could be difficult and counterproductive. She thanked the Special Rapporteur for his work during the last six years.
The representative of the European Union said that while terrorism could not be tolerated, it also could not be used to justify repression. She asked the Special Rapporteur to comment on the targeting of people belonging to minorities in the context of migration flows, and asked how States could ensure the fear of terrorism did not lead to more acute manifestations of racism and xenophobia.
The representative of the United Kingdom agreed with the Special Rapporteur that States must tackle hate crime, adding that her country criminally penalized the incitement to racial hatred.
The representative of Brazil underscored the importance of human rights education, and asked about the tools to combat xenophobia in opposing terrorism.
The representative of the Russian Federation supported the work of the Special Rapporteur, and commended his position on the spread of racist ideology and the unacceptability of qualifying that as freedom of expression.
The representative of the Maldives said that under no circumstance could any country justify xenophobia, racism and religious intolerance with discriminatory policies disguised as countering terrorism.
The representative of Switzerland asked the Special Rapporteur for examples of measures to ensure integration, with the aim of preventing political exclusion and socioeconomic marginalization.
The representative of Azerbaijan said encouraging tolerance was a fundamental step in combating racism, and to that end, her country had initiated the Baku process for the promotion of intercultural dialogue.
The representative of Morocco expressed concern about official statements or laws which were Islamophobic, and invited the Special Rapporteur to visit her country.
The representative of South Africa noted the worrying observations in the Special Rapporteur’s report on increased acts of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia emerging from State counter‑terrorism practices. She expressed concern over the lack of implementation of successive resolutions calling for the Special Rapporteur to produce a long overdue report that “examines national models of mechanisms that measure racial equality and their added value in the eradication of racial discrimination and to report on such challenges, successes and best practices”.
The representative of Armenia said threats to human security caused by hatred should be perceived as serious challenges that could undermine stability. As such, a conference would be held in Yerevan, Armenia.
Mr. RUTEERE replied that fear of terrorism could foment rights violations, adding that prejudice was fuelled by portrayals of certain groups in the media and public discourse, making it difficult for them to integrate into communities. The tendency to reduce people and communities “into single stories” had fuelled conflict, massacre and genocide. On how States could collaborate on counter-terrorism measures, he underscored the need for greater sharing of good practices, noting that many had been developed at the municipal level, yet had not been incorporated into national and international standards.
The gender dimension of discrimination should be examined, he said, but that was not a focus of his mandate. Regarding the best way to design integration policy, he said it was crucial to develop initiatives which involved both migrant and host communities. “It cannot be a one-way form of integration,” he said. “For it to be effective, both groups need to be involved.” There was also a need to find opportunities for migrants to participate in social and economic life, and not simply rely on legislation to achieve integration. He agreed with South Africa’s delegate who decried that tools to measure national progress on discrimination were lacking, highlighting the need for follow-up mechanisms.
TAONGA MUSHAYAVANHU, Chair-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, said that over the past decade, that body had engaged with more than 50 experts from academia, civil society, national human rights institutions and intergovernmental organizations to discuss a range of issues regarding racial discrimination. The Committee had sought to fill gaps in the international framework to address racial discrimination, but there was a lack of political will to fulfil its mandate. He had provided the Committee with a Chair’s text, a substantive compilation of four topics: xenophobia, national mechanisms, procedural gaps and racism in sport.
He said he had identified potential “points of convergence” for the development of complementary standards on those four topics and submitted recommendations on constitutional, legislative, institutional and administrative standards. In six months, the Committee would hold its tenth session, which risked “becoming hostage to an endless discussion” if there was no “meeting of minds”. The Committee must follow the new direction given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council and start negotiations on the draft additional protocol to the Convention criminalizing racist and xenophobic acts. He urged States to summon the political will to compromise, reach an agreement on the Committee’s work and put forward ideas to advance negotiations.
The representative of the European Union said the bloc had taken legal and practical steps to address racism and xenophobia. She called on Member States to do more to implement the International Convention.
The representative of Iraq pointed out that refugees had been marginalized and often experienced xenophobia in host countries, pressing the international community to do more to address racial discrimination.
The representative of South Africa called for measures that fostered tolerance and respect for diversity, stressing that the rise of populism had exacerbated xenophobia and discrimination.
The representative of Zimbabwe urged States to be more flexible in allowing the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to fulfil its mandate.
Mr. MUSHAYAVANHU thanked delegates for their comments and agreed that more must be done to address racial discrimination, as progress had been too slow. History had shown that racism affected the foundations of society, he stressed.
Mr. ALI MAAN (Iraq) said his country was committed to eliminating racism and all types of discrimination. Iraq had done everything to free its territory from the scourge of terrorism and extremism, and he called on the international community to support the country so it could build a new society. Iraq worked to prosecute crimes committed by foreign combatants, he said, noting that United Nations resolutions should be kept in mind when countering terrorism.
RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) associating himself with CELAC and with the Group of 77 and China, said the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had cited multiple and reinforcing types of discrimination against women and girls. The specific needs of women and girls of African descent should be a priority. The 2030 Agenda presented opportunities to address the disadvantages facing people of African descent. The commitment to leave no one behind must be linked to people of African descent if that aspiration was to be achieved. Brazil looked forward to the establishment of the Forum for People of African Descent.
The representative of the United States said racism came in many forms, from violence and genocide, to everyday intolerance and persecution. Everyone had a duty to speak out against discrimination, as ending racism could not be achieved by Government action alone. It was crucial that leaders also speak out against racism. In the United States, children were taught about the importance of respect for civil rights and diversity in public schools, she added.
The representative of Iran said her country was deeply concerned about attacks on refugees and migrants, as well as hate speech by high-ranking political officials which had been translated into discriminatory legislation. Overbearing immigration policies, hate speech and discrimination had become routine in some Western countries, she said, noting that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories had denied Palestinians of their right to justice and a dignified life. The “deafening silence” of self-proclaimed human rights defenders towards that occupation was likewise deplorable, calling the discrimination against non‑Jewish residents of Palestine reminiscent of apartheid. Israel, she said, was a real threat to the fight against discrimination.
NADYA RIFAAT RASHEED, State of Palestine, said that not a day passed when Palestinians’ rights were not violated. The Palestinian people had been deprived of their rights to self-determination and sovereignty over their land for five decades. Over the past year, Israel had continued its illegal construction of settlements, she said, “flagrantly” pushing ahead with plans to colonize and de facto annex more Palestinian land. She called for real action to end Israel’s violations, adding that the Palestinian people insisted on the attainment of their rights, including to self-determination.
SURESH KODIKUNNIL (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said history was plagued with gross human rights violations from slavery to colonialism. While genetic studies had confirmed the mixed ancestry of all peoples, racism, discrimination and xenophobia persisted. Fears over increased human mobility, the uneven economic impacts of globalization and an exodus of refugees had translated into extreme intolerance and xenophobia, fostering nationalist tendencies. “Insecurities based on irrational and inadequate understanding of global trends are often utilized for political purposes,” he said. India had been a longstanding home to “mega‑diversity”, drawing strength from a variety of ethnicities, religions and languages. The Constitution enshrined the principle of equality, while the penal code was being revised to combat acts related to racial discrimination. As a former colony, India strongly supported Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
DAVÍÐ LOGI SIGURÐSSON (Iceland) said racism and intolerance affected people across the world and related human rights violations must be fought with conviction. He welcomed increased attention accorded to the challenges to human rights and democracy posed by extremist ideological movements. While stressing the need to protect freedom of speech, he called for greater vigilance against the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, expressing concern that groups attacking racial and ethnic minorities also targeted individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The international community must combat hatred, he asserted, adding that all States had a collective responsibility to eliminate racism and discrimination.
Ms. DILEYM (Saudi Arabia) rejected Israel’s aggression against Palestinians and reiterated the need for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian question. She underscored the importance of safeguarding their right to self-determination and called on the international community to recognize that right. A just, peaceful solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories must be found.
Ms. KIPIANI (Georgia), associating herself with European Union, condemned all forms of xenophobia and racism. Georgia had adopted a human rights strategy and action plan with the aim of combating discrimination and intolerance. She highlighted the ongoing ethnically targeted violations against Georgians living in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia. The process of fortifying the occupation line had denied people access to property, religious sites, education and health care. There also had been severe restrictions on education in the Georgian language in the Gali district of Abkhazia. “The humanitarian and human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied regions remains alarming, given that no international monitoring mechanisms are allowed to conduct monitoring,” she added.
Ms. OZCERI (Turkey) underscored States parties’ obligation to end racial discrimination by any group or organization. Devoid of targeted policies and monitoring, racial discrimination could not be stopped by legislative frameworks per se. Contemporary trends had translated into new forms of racism, and vulnerable groups continued to fall victim to discrimination and intolerance. Hostility and hate crimes had had a serious effect on Muslims and migrant communities, she said, and the depiction of those crimes as single incidents undermined attempts to address root causes. The international community should not be intimidated from addressing racism. A successful fight required combined efforts at the national and international levels.
SAMAR SUKKAR (Jordan) called the right to self-determination a pillar of human rights. The question of Palestine was the pivotal issue in the Middle East, and finding a comprehensive solution to it was integral to achieving regional stability. No solution would suffice if it was not based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Jordan rejected all measures to change the historical demographic character of Al‑Quds, she said, adding that Jordan could not consider any pretext to deprive Palestinians of rights.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said the right to self-determination was an international norm enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. It must be exercised freely without coercion or repression, and must not lapse with the passage of time. The legitimate struggles of people must not be conflated with terrorism. The denial of that right was particularly distressing in Indian‑occupied Kashmir, where people were subjected to “brutal and ruthless foreign occupation”. The peoples of Jammu and Kashmir remained deprived of their rights, despite the adoption of Security Council resolutions. The dispute would persist until the people of that area were allowed to exercise their will. Stressing that faith-based discrimination threatened global peace and security, he called on all communities to stand united against those seeking to entice violence through stereotyping.
KAITLYN SHELAGH ELIZABETH PRITCHARD, (Canada), citing the significant cost of racism, said people experiencing racism often faced barriers to housing and education. Canadians of African and indigenous descent were overly represented in correctional facilities and underrepresented in leadership positions. While institutional frameworks were crucial in fighting racism, there was also a need for individuals to do their part. Canada embraced diversity, as seen in its immigration and refugee policies, she said, calling on States to combat racism and share the fruits of peace and security.
Ms. MKHWANAZI (South Africa) said self-determination was an inalienable right that should be respected in all circumstances. The Government regarded decolonization and foreign occupation as important matters, which was why it was deeply concerned by the challenges to self-determination experienced by both the Sahrawi and Palestinian peoples. She welcomed the Secretary-General’s affirmation of Palestinians’ right to self-determination and called on States to end their inaction on the various United Nations decisions related to the Sahrawi and Palestinian people.
MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea) said the Secretary-General’s report on the right to self-determination was a reminder of the indignity of colonialism. It was incumbent on the United Nations to ensure and safeguard the rights of peoples in Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, he said, adding that 17 such Territories remained “under the shackles” of colonialism. The 2030 Agenda called for leaving nobody behind, he said, adding that justice, freedom and peace were principles that must apply to subjugated people. He welcomed the upcoming self-determination referendum in New Caledonia and encouraged access for a United Nations visiting mission to the territory ahead of the poll.
Mr. ONANGA NDJILA (Gabon) said the Constitution stipulated that racial discrimination should be punished by law. A culture of dialogue and peace remained at the heart of all policies. There were migrants and asylum seekers from all over the African continent, he noted, adding that Gabon had created an observatory for inequalities which sought to combat inequality. Ending racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance throughout the world was a daunting task, requiring everyone to be involved, including through more dynamic cooperation within the United Nations.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said ongoing processes leading to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration represented an unprecedented opportunity to oppose intolerance, racial discrimination and xenophobia against migrants, refugees and their families, and to protect their fundamental rights, regardless of status. It was important to help others see that migrants and refugees were not a problem to be solved, but brothers and sisters to be welcomed. International covenants and national legislation were indispensable for combating such behaviour, he said, stressing that human rights education played a key role in fostering social cohesion and promoting respect for human dignity. It was vital to develop a culture of human rights that wisely linked the individual to the common good.
Right of Reply
The representative of India, exercising the right of reply, said Pakistan was a safe haven for terrorists, stressing that Jammu and Kashmir would remain a part of India.
The representative of Pakistan said India’s illegitimate control of Jammu and Kashmir had been rejected by the people living in that territory. The onus of finding a peaceful solution to Jammu and Kashmir lay with India, which should respect the Security Council resolution on the issue.