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Seventy-seventh Session,
39th & 40th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/4362

Third Committee Delegates Highlight Systemic Racism, Killings of People of African Descent, Ongoing Legacies of Colonialism, Slavery, in Rights Debate

Independent Expert Underscores Modern Slavery in Physical and Online Slave Markets, Organ Harvesting

Children of African descent are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, experts told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as delegates engaged in a series of interactive dialogues on the link between systemic racism and the global ecological crisis, elimination of contemporary forms of racism and the right of people to self-determination.

One of seven independent experts briefing the Committee, Catherine S. Namakula, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, warned that the excessive use of force and killings of people of African descent by law enforcement continues with impunity.  Racial discrimination, resulting from the unresolved legacies of trafficking enslaved Africans, colonialism and post-colonial apartheid, continues to harm children of African descent, she said, stressing that they face heavier policing, more arrests, racial profiling and excessive use of force.

The tragedy of slavery cannot be repeated, she asserted, voicing alarm at the manifestation of contemporary forms of enslavement in the Middle East and Gulf States, characterized by physical and online slave markets and organ harvesting.  In the context of serious violations of the human rights of African migrants, she called on States to put an end to collective expulsions and pushbacks of asylum-seekers and migrants on land and sea.

Along similar lines, E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, stressed that the global ecological crisis is simultaneously a racial justice crisis.  The devastating effects of the ecological crisis is disproportionately borne by racially, ethnically and nationally marginalized groups that overwhelmingly comprise the residents of the areas hardest hit by biodiversity loss and climate change.  Climate-induced migration cannot be divorced from the racially unjust hierarchies of colonial and imperial exploitation that have determined who is forced to move.

Elaborating on climate justice that seeks historical accountability from nations responsible for climate change, he recalled that, between 1850 and 2002, industrialized countries produced three times the carbon dioxide compared to the entire Global South.  Yet, it is the Global South, and colonially designated non-white regions of the world that are most affected and least able to survive the global ecological crisis, he emphasized.

Earlier in the day, Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presented three reports, one on the elimination of racism and xenophobia, the second on the universal realization of right of peoples to self-determination and the third on the collection of disaggregated data to protect the human rights of people of African descent.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates expressed grave concern about the human rights situations in Belarus, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Ukraine and China, with the representative of the United States condemning the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Xinjiang, extreme restrictions on the human rights in Tibet as well as the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy. 

China’s delegate, rejecting Washington’s attacks against China and developing countries, pointed to systemic racial discrimination in the United States.  Echoing her concerns, the representative of the Russian Federation attributed responsibility for the situation of Afghanistan to Washington, criticizing its appropriation of the country’s financial resources.

Meanwhile, Namibia’s delegate, warning about the long-term impact of colonialism, stressed that the people in the Western Sahara cannot be indefinitely denied their right to self-determination.

Also briefing the Committee were Marie Chantal Rwakazina, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; Edna Maria Santos Roland, Chair of the Group of Independent Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; Verene Albertha Shepherd, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and Kadra Ahmed Hassan, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards.

Also speaking today were representatives of Pakistan (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Canada, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Central American Integration System), Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Countries), South Africa (on behalf of the African Group), Liechtenstein, Kenya, China, Venezuela, South Africa, Belarus, Colombia, India, Cameroon, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Luxembourg, Syria, Portugal, Belgium and the European Union, in its capacity as observer.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 1 November, to continue its consideration of human rights questions.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presenting her report on the elimination of racism (document A/77/294), said some States have reported incremental progress in combating racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, largely through the enactment or amendment of constitutional protections, domestic legislation, national action plans and data collection.  Increasing efforts are being directed at issues concerning the use of force and law enforcement, including studies on the impact of systemic racism and steps to fight hate speech and hate crimes, notably online.  However, international cooperation and adequate funding at the national and international levels are needed to effectively address all forms of racism and racial discrimination, she stressed.

She further presented her report on the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (document A/77/333), which focuses on the collection of disaggregated data to protect the human rights of people of African descent.  The report draws on observations made by international human rights mechanisms and on contributions received from six Member States.  The report recommends a human rights-based approach to data to combat discrimination experienced by people of African descent.  Accordingly, States should analyse and publish disaggregated data on people of African descent, including qualitative, hate crimes, health, housing and education data.

Presenting her last report — on the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/77/265) — she drew attention to key developments concerning the universal realization of this right in the context of United Nations human rights mechanisms.  The report provides guidance on how the right to self-determination is currently interpreted and calls attention to connections with other human rights.  It also demonstrates the continued importance of the right to self-determination in order to achieve the full enjoyment of human rights and sustainable development.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, the representative of Namibia warned about the impact of colonialism long after the occupying power has left.  The 17 Non-Self-Governing territories on the United Nations agenda serve as a reminder of the need to make progress on decolonization.  Expressing concern over the continued injustice experienced by the people of Palestine, she called for the two-State solution.  In a similar vein, she stressed that the people in the Western Sahara cannot be indefinitely denied their right to self-determination.

The representative of the United States expressed grave concern about the human rights situations in Belarus, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Iran and Syria.  He appreciated the OHCHR’s efforts in documenting human rights violations in those contexts and supporting human rights defenders.  Turning to the situation in China, he condemned the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Xinjiang, extreme restrictions on the human rights in Tibet as well as the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.  The Russian forces are committing horrific atrocities in Ukraine, including filtration operations, disappearances and family separations, he said, pointing also to the suppression of dissent inside the Russian Federation.  In Afghanistan, the Taliban has implemented repressive policies, preventing Afghan women from participating in public life and banning their access to education.  Similarly, he pointed to the OHCHR’s documentation of ongoing human rights violations in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the representative of China, pointing to the systematic racial discrimination in the United States, asserted that Washington has once again attacked China and other developing countries.  Echoing her concerns, the representative of the Russian Federation opposed Washington’s mendacious statements regarding the situation in the Russian Federation, China and other countries.  Calling their approach “non-constructive”, he advised the delegation of the United States to look at the situation in Afghanistan — a result of the freezing of assets that belong to the Afghan people, who lack the ability to use those funds for social development and protection of human rights.

Responding, Ms. Brands Kehris drew attention to the conclusions and recommendations of the three reports she presented earlier, specifically to the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent and the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

People of African Descent

CATHERINE S. NAMAKULA, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, noting that two years after the murder of George Floyd sparked global anti-racism protests, the excessive use of force and killings of people of African descent by law enforcement continues with impunity in many countries.  Calling on States to promote accountability, redress damages and make tangible improvements in the lives of people of African descent, she stressed the need for an international racial justice index to measure States performances, underscoring the need to guarantee refugees, migrants and asylum seekers of African descent access to safety, development and justice.  Presenting the Working Group’s annual report on children of African descent, she pointed to its May public session.  Noting that racial discrimination, from the unresolved legacies of trade and trafficking of enslaved Africans and colonialism, post-colonial apartheid and segregation, continues to harm children of African descent and their human rights, she said the “children of African descent are not considered as children at all”.  False racial stereotypes of criminality, culpability and dangerousness influence decision-making in relation to children and youth of African descent, including by legal system personnel, she added.  Stressing that children of African descent are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, she said Member States should reduce the footprint of police in their lives.  She also noted persistent racial disparities in family interventions by child welfare agencies and social services, including removal of children and termination of parental rights, which often involve racialized decision-making and outcomes.

Calling on States to ensure that children of African descent are protected from direct or indirect racial discrimination, stigmatization, psychological and physical violence and bullying, Ms. Namakula said access to quality education is required.  She appealed to the United Nations and other stakeholders to “desist from using images depicting children of African descent in undignified circumstances for purposes of marketing and fundraising”.  “Children of African descent are not synonymous with poverty and must be protected from harmful stereotypes,” she said.  Highlighting the Working Group’s visits to Portugal and Switzerland, she called on Lisbon to establish an independent inquiry into widespread allegations of police brutality, with a view to identifying the victims and affording them redress.  The Government should constitute an independent oversight mechanism to address allegations of police misconduct and facilitate the process of reparatory justice for people of African descent, she said.  She encouraged Geneva to strengthen the forthcoming national human rights institution, to include implementing a mandate to adjudicate individual complaints of racial discrimination.  She expressed concern over the appalling treatment of African migrants and migrant workers and serious violations of their human rights.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noting that children continue to be victims of different forms of violence, suffer from exclusion and discrimination, including because of their racial or ethnic origin, pointed to his bloc’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child and a proposal to establish a “European child guarantee”.  He asked Ms. Namakula how States can achieve better education systems, which are more inclusive and free from racial discrimination.

The representative of Brazil highlighted additional barriers faced by children of African descent, including those due to COVID‑19.  She pointed to national policies aimed at combating racism and racial discrimination.  This includes teaching African history in the Afro-Brazilian culture, as provided for in federal law, and the observance of 20 November as National Day of Black Awareness.

The representative of the United States pointed to challenges and vulnerabilities facing people of African descent, ranging from the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic to insufficient access to water and food insecurity.  Stressing that advancing racial equity and justice is a priority of his Government, he pointed to activities in this regard, including increased investments in historically black colleges and universities and appointment of the first Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice.  He asked Ms. Namakula how States can support the Working Group’s collaboration with civil society to address critical issues that impact people of African descent.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire said that the most shocking form of racism and racial discrimination that people of African descent suffered for centuries was the dehumanization of slavery and the servitude of colonialism.  The fight by forebears for recognition of their dignity led to improvements but did not put an end to transgenerational racial discrimination, he said.  In addition to slavery and colonialization, structural discrimination perpetrates poverty and impedes enjoyment of human rights of children of African descent, especially to education, decent employment, health care and food.  Underscoring difficulties in accessing high quality education, including the high cost of visas for migrant students, he asked Ms. Namakula about scholarships and capacity-building initiatives.

The representative of the Russian Federation stressed the need to pay attention to overcoming many centuries of colonialism, carried out by western European countries.  Crimes should be investigated and damages compensated for, he said, adding that this responsibility of European Union countries should be shared with the United States.  Pointing to the transatlantic slave trade as one of the biggest crimes against humanity, he also highlighted dangers facing migrants, including children, that attempt to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe.   Citing data on lives loss at sea and cases of migrants being repelled by security forces in the bloc, he said these incidents should investigated.

Ms. NAMAKULA, responding, said a multisectoral approach is required to establish an environment free for all children, highlighting the revision of curricula reflecting racial hierarchies and the monitoring of mainstream media content spreading bias as examples.  She noted that the manifestation of contemporary forms of slavery of persons of African descent in the Middle East and Gulf states has been characterised by physical and online slave markets, organ harvesting, exploitation and abuse.  Stressing that this is a concern that needs urgent intervention, she said that “the tragedy of slavery cannot be repeated”.

Pointing to the narrowing of civil society, she called on States to fund initiatives for people of African descent, who are being discriminated against.  The Working Group’s recommendations should be domesticated into normative frameworks, she said, adding that institutional frameworks should be established with jurisdictions to address complaints and ensure accountability.   Urging States to address legacies of the past with the full participation and leadership of Africans and people of African descent, she called on them to end the excessive use of force, extra-judicial killings, disparities, racial profiling, racial stereotypes and stereotyping, systemic racial discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes.  “We need to dismantle discriminatory structures and create political space for a dialogue on reparations at the international, regional, national and local levels”, she concluded, adding that “only the truth, accountability and justice can eliminate racial discrimination”.

Also speaking in the dialogue were the representatives of Portugal, Cameroon, Algeria and Syria.

Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

EDNA MARIA SANTOS ROLAND, Chair of the Group of Independent Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, briefed the Committee on their eighth session today.  She said that it assembled a mix of experts and civil society actors of high calibre, followed by States’ interventions in a hybrid in-person and online format.  Noting that the report is currently unavailable, she said it expresses deep concern over the constant disinformation and lack of public knowledge about the true content of the Durban Declaration, resulting in a multi-State boycott of the high-level meeting commemorating the Declaration’s twentieth anniversary in September 2021.  It was not the opportunity to reaffirm commitments in the combat against racism the Group hoped for, she said.  The first substantive item on the agenda was developing a strong United Nations system, starting with a campaign against the criminal practice of apartheid.

Other topics addressed included launches of law, educational and public information campaigns informed by the Programme of Action as well as a discussion of racism related to global emergencies, natural disasters, health crises and climate justice.  Further, there was a thematic focus on increased discrimination against refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons and recent global developments further aggravating it.  The Group explored links between racism and religious intolerance, she said, adding that their lack in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development shows the absence of a strong commitment to eliminate systemic racism, calling for the gap to be addressed at the 2023 Summit.  Highlighting the importance of the Human Rights Council’s support in renewing the Group of Independent Eminent Experts’ mandate, she hailed the creation of the Permanent Forum of People of African descent a “milestone” and the most direct and concrete result of the Durban Declaration to date.

In the ensuing debate, the representative of Chile noted that 20 years have elapsed since the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and that many challenges remain, impacted further by the COVID‑19 pandemic and subsequent events.  The representative of South Africa urged all States to refrain from sacrificing the fundamental fight for victims of racial discrimination, adding that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has enhanced global efforts to eliminate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance for the last two decades.  The delegate asked how Member States that are committed to this important mechanism can provide support to counter efforts to discredit it, the representative asked.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire said, however small it may be, progress made in implementation of the Declaration deserves attention, and the international community must strive to lift obstacles that hinder implementation of these valuable instruments.  The representative of the Russian Federation said the impasse to implementation is the lack of political will, adding that all States should be responsible for implementing their commitments to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Responding, Ms. SANTOS ROLAND said the boycott of tenth anniversary celebrations of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was significant, questioning why a document that was created through great effort by all Member States of the United Nations system, with a long period of preparation and a democratic process, does not receive the attention and support of the global community.  She underscored the importance of the Durban Declaration, considering that it has a visionary nature and understanding of current problems that were present more than twenty years ago.  Many of the paragraphs of the Declaration continue to be relevant to current problems, such as paragraph three, on epidemics, which at the time referred to HIV/AIDs, but today could cover the COVID‑19 epidemic.

The international community should continue to support implementation of the Durban Declaration, maintain their support for all mechanisms that lead to implementation of the Declaration, and ensure that all mechanisms are not superseded.  The global community is working on various issues to combat what is one of the great challenges confronting humanity, namely the different treatment of human beings according to colour, race or other phenomena that could be considered part of the concept of racism.

Durban Declaration

MARIE CHANTAL RWAKAZINA, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, briefed the Committee on her group’s activities during discussions held in Geneva last year.  The Group focused on the need for States to adopt and implement comprehensive national action plans against racial discrimination.  Establishing or reinforcing dialogue with non-governmental organizations, those plans should promote diversity, equality, equity, social justice and equal opportunity, she said.  Further, the Group recognized the importance of bilateral, regional and international cooperation for implementation of plans, which should focus on needs, experiences and recommendations of those affected by them.  Noting the increase of racism targeting people of Asian descent, especially women and girls, during and in the wake of the COVID‑19 pandemic, she urged States to address it.

Sharing other developments with the Committee, she said that the Group has deepened its understanding of racism through sharing experiences worldwide and has adopted recommendations.  Also, thanks to General Assembly resolution (document A/RES/76/226), the Group will focus at least half of its twentieth session on drafting a declaration on the promotion and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent, she added.  To be informed by stakeholders from anti-racism frameworks, the document will provide a global framework to address the systemic nature of racism affecting people of African descent around the world and contribute to confronting past injustices and their present consequences by encouraging concrete actions.  She underscored the declaration’s contribution to racial inclusion and justice for people of African descent and how it would strengthen democracy in general.  In closing, she recalled that “the anti-racism agenda belongs to all of us as much as it hinges on political will and achieving human dignity and equality is our collective duty”.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, the representative of the Russian Federation welcomed the Working Group’s forthcoming draft on people of African descent.  Expressing concern that people of African descent continue to suffer discrimination in many countries, he said this must have roots in the trans-Atlantic slave trade that the so-called civilized Europeans used to enrich themselves, which is still unacknowledged by the international community.  He said Ms. Rwakazina should include this in her report, as without it, the international community will be unable to effectively implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Responding to the Committee, Ms. RWAKAZINA said that the draft is under discussion and its elements will be considered in the Group’s twenty-first session next year.

General Debate Statements

RABIA IJAZ (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed deep concern about the resurgence of racism in the world today.  Affirming that racism, xenophobia and intolerance are human rights violations, she condemned the misuse of communications technologies by actors disseminating hateful ideologies.  She called on political leaders to adopt unequivocal positions against racism and intolerance and underscored the role of education in spreading awareness, deconstructing stereotypes and fostering inter-faith dialogue for young people.  Encouraging Member States to adopt and implement all related conventions, she underscored the importance of the Durban Declaration follow-up mechanism and the need to provide nations with adequate and sustained resources.  Adding that the programme for the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination should receive priority, she welcomed the ensuing forum as a consultative mechanism for the rights of people of African descent.  The Group of 77 and China will again table a resolution to eliminate racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance this year, she said.

ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), also speaking on behalf of 50 other States, expressed great concern about the human rights situation in China, especially ongoing human rights violations of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.  Quoting the OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, he stressed that the scale of the arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity”.  Detailing “severe and systematic violations of human rights”, he added that these cannot be justified as counter-terrorism, expressing concern that China has so far refused to discuss such findings.  He urged that Government to uphold its international human rights obligations and fully implement the OHCHR recommendations, including by taking prompt steps to release all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in Xinjiang, and urgently clarify the whereabouts of missing family members, he said.

ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ BEHMARAS (Cuba), speaking on behalf of a group of 66 countries, said the sovereignty of States and non-interference in their affairs should be respected by all.  Xinjiang and Tibet, among others, are China’s affairs.  All interference in China’s affairs on the pretext of human rights are rejected, he said, adding that all countries should adhere to the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and non-interference.  All human rights should be treated with the same emphasis, and the same importance attached to economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development in particular.  Today human rights are faced with multiple challenges, including the COVID‑19 pandemic, and the international community should respond jointly to global challenges, advance world peace and development and protect and promote human rights.

VICTORIA LIETA LIOLOCHA (Democratic Republic of the Congo), on behalf of the Southern African development communities and associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said all reports of racism should be examined by Member States.  Referring to her country’s experience of dehumanization and being left behind, she said racism and xenophobia must be overcome.  She voiced alarm at the growing resurgence of modern forms of racism and racial discrimination in many regions around the world.  Pointing to an increase in hate speech, she said that such practices fuel racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.  She advocated for the establishment of norms to support the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, urging all Member States to strive for its universal ratification.

STAN ODUMA SMITH (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and aligning with the Group of 77 and China, encouraged all States to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as a demonstration of political will.  He said that the dual legacy of slavery and colonialism has grossly marginalized people of African descent.  Noting that they are perpetually disadvantaged in a context of heightened anti-racist rhetoric, while inequality only seems to deepen, he called on States to demonstrate their commitments to economic development and the Sustainable Development Goals by confronting racism, discrimination and intolerance.  Adding that the COVID‑19 pandemic disproportionately affected developing countries with people of African descent, he called on the Committee to redesign the economic landscape with measures considering historical racism.  Eradicating economic racism is a global good and a debt owed to people of African descent, he stressed, further calling on States to examine the impact of economic racial discrimination and take active measures to rectify it.

CARLA MARÍA CARLSON (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, noting that her region is multi-ethnic and multicultural, reaffirmed the bloc’s determination to promote the full inclusion of all people without discrimination.  Noting that racism and discrimination are increasing in violent forms globally, she said that urgent measures must be taken against these scourges, including through social and political initiatives, and with accountability strengthened.  Adding that laws and punitive measures alone are insufficient, she invited nations to change social attitudes through education on human rights and cultural diversity to prevent and eliminate racism.  Special attention must be paid to persons of African descent and victims of multiple and intersecting discrimination, she added.  Noting mistreatment, discrimination, racism and human violations in some countries affecting people of African and Latin-American descent in migrant-receiving destination countries, she rejected all forms of intolerance.

ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, said protection of human rights is an issue of major importance at the international level, given the uptick in conflict, pandemics and the dissemination of harmful practices that run counter to international human rights law.  Human rights issues should be discussed within the United Nations in an objective, constructive and transparent manner, without selectivity or politicization, respecting the sovereignty of States without interfering in their internal affairs.  The eradication of poverty, ignorance and disease is vital, as is the fight against terrorism to protect the safety and security of States, as well as their people.  Adding that terrorism is a scourge the whole of humanity faces, he urged Member States and regional groups to undertake preventive measures and achieve dialogue as well as a fruitful exchange of ideas for the promotion of human rights.

TEBOHO JULIAH BABEDI (South Africa), on behalf of the African Group, welcomed progress made at national, regional and international levels in conformity with the commitments of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  The African Group is concerned that implementation of the Declaration has been put aside due to ongoing challenges, including the COVID‑19 pandemic, which posed further challenges to the work of the Group over the past two years.  In this context, she stressed the need for campaigns to improve human rights education globally by strengthening the understanding of international human rights instruments, including the objectives of the Durban Declaration.  Highlighting that an equitable world is achievable for all if the needs of the most vulnerable are met, she advocated for access to remedies and adequate reparation for any damage that results from racial discrimination.

MATHEW EDBROOKE (Liechtenstein) said that self-determination is important in all State processes and can be used beyond a decolonial paradigm such as self-governance through federalism post-conflict.  Issues relating to self-determination also highlight communities and peoples being abused, he added, citing repeated secessionist claims by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.  He said that these repeated claims without letting affected communities determine their own status has undermined Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  He recalled the handbook on self-determination in conflict-prevention and resolution his delegation produced, noting that it encourages human rights for minority communities as a means of conflict prevention through early dialogue and proposing solutions outside of secession.

Ms. AHAMED MOHAMMED (Kenya), aligning herself with the  Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that States, regional and multilateral organizations should justly manage diversity as a core competence or remain vulnerable to damaging political and security crises.  Calling on the United Nations to lead by example in ensuring that its workplaces are free of racism, discrimination, indignity, harassment and fear, she expressed hope that measures taken by the Secretary-General in this regard will instil anti-racist hiring policies and ensure accountability in all departments.  She hoped to see men and women of African, Pacific and Asian descent hired at the most senior levels of the Organization.  States’ progress in the fight against racism should be measurable and constant, she added, especially with regards to education, employment and economic opportunity.  “The institutionalized attitudes to African migrants and refugees need to be purged of racism and discrimination,” she said, inviting United Nations agencies charged with the movement and settlement of refugees and migrants to document racial bias as a threat to security and human rights.  Further, reforms of institutions such as the Security Council must respond to the urgent case for African permanent membership, if they are to reverse the “starkly racial exclusion manifest in the status quo”.

XU DAIZHU (China) said Chinese people of all ethnicities are shaping a more prosperous, harmonious, civilized and democratic country, ready to work with all peoples of the world in the service of humanity’s common progress.  China has given a true picture of its human rights situation at the United Nations, although a small clique, including the United States, has conducted a smear campaign, which his country firmly rejects.  What is right and what is wrong is clear, and so is the sentiment of the international community, despite malicious political intentions of the United States and other countries, as they cannot erase the veritable human rights progress in Xinjiang.  The real purpose of the United States is to destabilize China, launching nine different attacks on it, with unbecoming petulant behavior.  Western countries have set a bar of hypocrisy, ignoring their own human rights issues, guiding the press and silencing accountability.  The former colonial powers seem to have forgotten the slavery and ethnocide they once visited on parts of the world, aiming to divert domestic tensions by pointing the finger at other countries.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, stressed that systemic racism constitutes outdated expressions of human relations that have been overcome by humanity.  He condemned any current manifestation that infringes upon fundamental rights, while urging States to criminalize any manifestation of hatred and segregation on ethnic grounds.  Moreover, he categorically condemned the insurgence of tendencies that assume superiority among human beings, including Nazism and neo-Nazism, whose resurgence represents an obstacle for the advancement of humanity towards new levels of development.  The Group considers it politically contradictory that some Governments, while attempting to give lessons of good governance to the rest of the world, have been unable to fully guarantee the right to non-discrimination of their own citizens.  Moreover, they actively promote it through the illegal imposition of unilateral coercive measures, which today affect more than a third of humanity and have become a modern form of systematic discrimination.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), aligning with the Southern African Development Community, the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, recalled that, in 2001, the international community stood together in Durban to reflect on racism and take steps to eliminate it.  Yet, he continued, minorities and racialized people continue to experience overt and subtle forms of racism daily worldwide.  He lamented that the very structure of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has been ignored and even instrumentalized to criticize other States instead of addressing concrete problems.  “In short, the world is burning and we are conveniently ignoring it,” he said.  The politicization of the race agenda to criticize other States in a human rights context is an example of racialized thinking in the international community itself, he added.  He called on States to avoid politicizing the topic of race, which represents a lack of consideration for the Durban Declaration.  Racism impedes every form of development, as shown during the COVID‑19 pandemic, with an unequal distribution of resources and humanitarian support on racial lines.  An unequal distribution of poverty is part of a colonial system that has never been addressed, he added.

STEPAN Y. KUZMENKOV (Russian Federation), stressing the increasing use of information and communication technologies for criminal ends, noted that the Internet and social networks have been used more broadly than ever in recent years to spread racist and xenophobic ideologies.  Extremists are exploiting legal loopholes and insufficient inter-State cooperation and evading accountability, he added.  The circulation of racism and xenophobia, and creation of organizations relying on misanthropic ideology and neo-Nazi marches can under no circumstance be classified as the enjoyment of the right to freedom of speech, assembly or association, he said.  Defining the OHCHR report on Xinjiang as “non-objective”, something that serves to spread accusations from Western countries, he condemned attempts to use human rights as a pretext to intervene in the affairs of China and other sovereign States.  Russophobia has become a mainstream practice, even an element of State policies in some countries, he said, calling on the Organization to explore this issue.

IGOR PILIPENKO (Belarus) said that, despite the international community’s efforts, issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances have become increasingly topical as well as instruments of policy for certain States, which are encouraging racist behavior among their citizens.  This behaviour is the collateral effect of a whole range of conflicts, which went largely unpunished.  During the Second World War, Belarus suffered colossal harm from the ideology of national socialism, the key provisions of which are intolerance.  Certain Western countries continue to cover up for those nations that have perpetrated this in Belarus.  Far-right ideas and those that distorted events in the past were circulating, justifying the acts of Nazi criminals and their henchmen, but rejected by Belarus’ authorities and citizens alike.  Belarus stands ready to help eliminate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at the international level, but does not believe these should be a pretext for interference in the internal affairs of States, including China, which has always been ready to discuss these issues.

Interactive Dialogues:  Racial Discrimination

VERENE ALBERTHA SHEPHERD, Chair of The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, presented her report (document A/77/18), noting that it pays special attention to the increase in hate speech and hate crimes on the Internet propagated by some politicians.  This affects people of African descent, Indigenous Peoples, Asians and people of Asian descent, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  As hate speech and hate crimes are often precursors to social conflicts, her Committee called on States to create legislation and mechanisms countering them on and off the internet and to hold those who commit them responsible.  She expressed concern about people of African descent and other minorities, noting challenges that women and girls face to access employment, education, housing, healthcare and to participate in public or political affairs.  The situation of migrants and asylum-seekers is of particular concern, she said, citing reports of refugees being denied access to basic services, including health care and employment.  Worse, the principle of non-refoulement has been disregarded in some cases, she added, calling on States to respect the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, especially as legacies of colonialism and inter-state conflicts are often the reasons for fleeing.

Continuing, she encouraged States to accept Article 14 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on individual communications procedure, which provides an additional means for victims of racial discrimination to obtain justice when domestic remedies fail.  She highlighted activities under Article 11 of the Convention, whereby a State Party can lodge a complaint against another State Party.  Qatar has lodged complaints against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, she said, noting that the first is resolved following the Al‑Ula Declaration, while the second is pending.  A case of Palestine against Israel is still active, she added.  The Committee also addressed the situations of eight States Parties, which adopted two statements and sent 13 letters, including on discrimination in education against ethnic minorities and the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against people of African descent.  Hailing the decision to establish a predictable eight‑year schedule of reviews that covers all treaty bodies, she said its implementation requires an overdue increase in resources.  “The treaty bodies and their small secretariats simply cannot cope with the present level of resources”, she said.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, called on States to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Full ratification and meaningful implementation of the Convention is necessary for the human rights of all peoples, he said, asking how best to involve civil society actors in actions and programmes.

The delegate of Jamaica asked Ms. Shepherd to elaborate on the linkage between the disproportionate effect that the COVID‑19 pandemic had on racialized people as well as the legacy of slavery and colonialism and how it can be addressed by States.

The representatives of Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic stressed the need for non-selectivity and the non-politicization of human rights, with the latter stressing that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet are internal affairs in China.  Echoing the two delegates on the importance of non-selectivity and non-politicization of human rights, the representative of China expressed concern about acts of discrimination against Asian people, people of African descent, and Muslims.  Affirming its commitment to cooperation based on national sovereignty, she asked the international community to treat unofficial information with caution.

The representative of Cameroon highlighted her Government’s plan of action on Indigenous Peoples, along with its efforts to encourage bilingualism and multi-culturalism to promote dialogue and reduce stereotypes.  She asked how the Committee intends to inform actions targeting racial profiling in the countries where it is practiced.

The delegate of the United Kingdom said her country is committed to attacking all forms of racism at home and abroad.  She detailed the Government’s anti-hate-speech legislative framework as well as the “Inclusive Britain” programme, which uses education and policing as well as clamping down on racist abuse online.  She asked about best practices when tackling racism.

In her response, Ms. SHEPHERD expressed appreciation for the call to ratify the Convention, adding that 182 States have yet to do so.  Civil society is extremely important, she said, adding that national human rights organizations provide yet another perspective to the Committee in addition to States’ reports.  Turning to the pandemic, she said that it revealed vulnerabilities and discrimination related to discrimination, calling on States to do better.  There is no doubt that Indigenous Peoples, people of African and Asian descent as well as other minorities in many countries are disproportionately affected by a colonial legacy that has created structural gaps in healthcare discrimination.

Responding to the United Kingdom, she underscored the importance of the country going further than legislation by adding programming, but stressed that the Government must also address the suffering of people living in its formerly colonized territories.  Stressing that her group does indeed remain impartial in its investigations and thoroughly researches its reports, she said that racist hate speech is at the top of the Committee’s agenda.  She called for “equal rights and justice for all, reconciliation of our differences for a more peaceful world”.

Also speaking were representatives of United States, France, Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Xenophobia and Rated Intolerance

E. TENDAYI ACHIUME, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that in the face of transformative demands of the 2020 racial justice uprising for an end to systemic racism, some Member States have two years later pursued responses that seem, at best, to amount to business as usual.  Pointing to the fifty-first Session of the Human Rights Council, she said the United Kingdom voted against a resolution seeking to mobilize concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, as it disagreed with its call for reparations for the slave trade and colonialism.   Noting that racial and xenophobic inequality and injustice are the global baseline, she pointed to the “de facto apartheid across and within nations”.  This situation cannot be divorced from the persisting legacies of the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved persons and colonialism, she said.

Presenting her report on Ecological crisis, climate justice and racial justice (document A/77/2990), she said that there can be no meaningful resolution of the global ecological crisis without specific action to address systemic racism.  Noting that “the global ecological crisis is simultaneously a racial justice crisis”, she stressed that the devastating effects of the ecological crisis are disproportionately borne by racially, ethnically and nationally marginalized groups, who overwhelmingly comprise residents of the areas hardest hit by pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.  Citing her report, she said that “sacrifice zones are more accurately described as racial sacrifice zones”, which include the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples, the territories of the small island developing States, racially segregated neighbourhoods in the Global North and occupied territories facing drought and environmental devastation.  Noting that racially, ethnically and nationally marginalized groups are disparately subjected to coerced displacement and immobility in the context of ecological crisis, she said that “climate-induced migration cannot be divorced from the racially unjust hierarchies and regimes of colonial and imperial extraction and exploitation that have significantly determined who is forced to move”.  Climate justice seeks historical accountability from these nations and entities responsible for climate change as well as the radical transformation of the contemporary systems that enable global ecological crisis, she added.

Turning to his report on combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and related ideologies (document A/77/512), Ms. Achiume noted the broadening of neo-Nazi groups to embrace white nationalists and right-wing populist movements; increased acceptance of neo-Nazi and related racism, xenophobia and intolerance; an upsurge of antisemitism in Europe and North America; and anti-Asian and anti-black racism.  Noting the instrumentalization of standards and tools designed to address neo-Nazism and antisemitism, she said her report highlights the controversial status and negative human rights impacts of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.  She urged the launch of an open process to identify an enhanced response to antisemitism. 

The representative of the United States said addressing the legacy of systemic racism and racial discrimination is a top priority for his Government, citing efforts to advance racial equity, which include the appointment of the first Special Representative of Racial Equity and Justice.  Saying that his country supports the broadly accepted working definition of antisemitism and encouraging other States to embrace it, he expressed disappointment that the report politicized it and condemned antisemitism.

The representative of Cuba, saying that there is no structural racism in his country, cited efforts to eliminate vestiges of racial prejudice that remain due to centuries of colonization and exploitation.  Adding that the increase of police violence in the United States must be a concern for the international community, he said it disproportionally affects persons of African descent, asking Ms. Achiume’s views on the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The representative of Israel said that the United Nations cannot welcome or take note of a report that contradicts in essence the mandate of the author.  Facing a surge in antisemitic attacks against Jews, the international community should promote the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition, not fight it, he said, stressing that it has become the most widely accepted and adopted definition of antisemitism worldwide.  The ill-founded recommendations made by the Rapporteur are not in line with her mandate and demonstrate a political agenda, he added.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, agreed that the Russian Federation is instrumentalizing serious human rights concerns, using neo-Nazism as a pretext to justify territorial aggression.  Adding that this undermines genuine attempts to fight it and distorts history, including fuelling holocaust distortion, he said his bloc does not share the view that the Remembrance Alliance’s working definition on antisemitism should be suspended, calling it a useful guidance tool.  He supported Ms. Achiume’s approach about the need to examine challenges and limits of the current United Nations framework in its ability to remedy climate/environmental harm.

The representative of the Russian Federation, called some countries the Garden of Eden and others a jungle, urging the Special Rapporteur and High Commissioner to consider putting an end to the wave of Russophobia in the West.

The representative of Germany, aligning herself with the statement by the European Union, said that no State is immune and all must work harder to overcome any form of discrimination, including her country.  Germany does not share the view that the adoption and promotion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism should be suspended, she said, describing it as a useful guideline for the effective identification and investigation of antisemitic attacks.

The representative of Australia, condemning all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that the world has not eradicated the legacy of Nazism.  Concerned that the Russian Federation sought to justify its aggression against Ukraine on the purported basis of eliminating neo-Nazism, she called it a blatant instrumentalization of the serious human rights concerns raised by neo-Nazi mobilization where they exist and an affront to international law.  She does not agree with the recommendation to suspend the Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which her country embraces, she stressed.

The representative of China, calling on the international community to purge the virus of racism, noted the increasingly difficult situation of ethnic minorities in some countries and the absence of relevant political and judicial systems and inappropriate policy initiatives.  The United Nations human rights mechanisms should pay more attention to the protection of human rights in these States, and the countries concerned should implement legal policies against racism, prohibit racial hate speech and foster tolerance and equal rights for all.

Ms. ACHIUME, responding, turned to the Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, noting that concerns have been raised by a broad coalition of scholars and human rights advocates, including Jewish scholars of antisemitism.  Her recommendation is also based on the human rights impact of the definition and represents a call to an open, transparent and inclusive process for developing an approach to combating antisemitism, she said.  Expressing disappointment that an analysis calling for strengthening a human rights approach to antisemitism was described as politicization, she called on States to adopt a global approach that responds to the fact that climate justice requires racial justice, and vice versa.  Further, Ms. Achiume called for “green transitions” that are also racially just transitions, reparations for historical environmental harms and contemporary harms rooted in historic injustice, an end to racially discriminatory human rights violations relating to the climate and environment as well as effective remedies to affected individuals and groups.  In addition, she said that transnational corporations should be held accountable for environmental racism and climate injustice.  Encouraging an intersectional approach addressing discrimination based on gender-identity, expression of sexual orientation or disability status, she recommended a bottoms-up approach when looking at and involving communities subject to racial and xenophobic subordination.

Also speaking were the representatives of Bulgaria, Indonesia, Hungary, Qatar, Uruguay, Albania, Romania, Canada, Austria, United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Spain, Pakistan, Azerbaijan (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Guatemala, Cyprus and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Complementary Standards

KADRA AHMED HASSAN, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, presenting its report, shared a brief overview of its eleventh and twelfth sessions.  The eleventh session focused on dissemination of hate speech; racial cybercrime; all contemporary forms of discrimination based on religion or belief; and preventive measures to combat racist and xenophobic discrimination.  The twelfth held discussions with experts on the historical impact of colonialism on the law; all contemporary forms of discrimination based on religion or belief; and principles and elements of criminalization.  She further reported that the session concluded by agreeing to task a group of legal experts to provide the Chair-Rapporteur with guidance and input in the preparation of her document.

Building on conclusions and recommendations, she noted that the resolution “From rhetoric to reality:  a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/HRC/RES/51/32), adopted by the Human Rights Council on 7 October, requested the High Commissioner to engage legal experts and task them with providing the Chair of the Committee with guidance and inputs for the preparation of the Chair’s document. 

Reiterating that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are present and impact the lives of countless people around the world, she emphasized that it is a test of the credibility of the Human Rights Council and General Assembly whether the political will can be summoned to combat these issues.  “We must in the Ad Hoc Committee be results-oriented and deliver on the mandates given to the Committee," she concluded.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, the representative of South Africa, recalled that the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted in 1965 and has never been updated.  She stressed the importance of acknowledging that not all States could participate in its initial elaboration as free, equal and non-colonial entities.  Noting that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action remains a fundamental forward-looking instrument, which seeks to address the legacies of colonialism and slavery, she pointed to the need to maintain the momentum that the Declaration has created.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reaffirmed that the Convention should remain the basis of all efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate racism.  Meanwhile, he noted that there is no need for an additional protocol to the Convention, given that it is a flexible living document that can also tackle contemporary forms of racism.

The representative of the Russian Federation pointed out that, since February, he has witnessed a campaign on an unprecedented scale to discriminate against Russian and Russian-speaking individuals based on their ethnic and linguistic belonging.  Expressing concern over violence against individuals based on their religion, he stressed the importance of adding “violation of freedom of religion” as a qualifying reason for racial discrimination.

Responding to the delegates, Ms. HASSAN voiced hope that the Committee will continue to demonstrate the necessary political will to move forward and fulfil its mandate.  She also expressed her wish to see continued political will and genuine and constructive engagement on this issue, which is important to all States.  Racism in its many manifestations remains an urgent matter everywhere, she added, stressing that it is high time to fulfil the mandate which was first adopted over 15 years ago.

LEONOR ZALABATA TORRES (Colombia) said that global progress is lacking in the fight against racism.  Colombia recognizes the link between communities and their territory, she said, adding that it is currently designing policies about diverse groups in the country that raise awareness about them to reduce stigmatization.  The Intersectoral Commission for Reparations oversees positive actions for groups affected by racism and the legacies of colonialism, while an observatory on racism and the ethnic chapter of the country’s peace agreements implements a pedagogic strategy to prevent recurrence and integrate people back into their communities of origin.  Further, the Government protects Venezuelan migrants and refugees.  Racial discrimination is a universal problem, she said, calling on the international community to take inspiration from indigenous communities who have shown resistance without resorting to conflict.  “We must seek common ground in contests of division”, she said.

ASHISH SHARMA (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country was subjected to colonial rule for nearly two centuries, adding that it is aware of the detrimental impact of racism and racial discrimination on society.  The scourge of slavery affected millions of Indians, who were driven out by colonial powers to far-off shores as indentured labourers, he said.  Stressing the role of education and the power of information and communications technology (ICT), he said online education in civics and history are potent tools that remain underutilized.  Inviting nations to monitor the use of social media in amplifying racial hatred and discrimination, he underscored the importance of partnerships with the private sector and civil society to fight racism.  India has played a leading role in the historic struggle for decolonization, he said, noting that it was at the forefront of the movement to secure the right of peoples to self-determination.

NELLY BANAKEN ELEL (Cameroon) noted that more than twenty years have passed since the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, but recognition of racism, slavery, the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism have been translated into action very infrequently.  She went on to ask the Committee how many countries, since Durban, have officially recognized, expressed their regret over or taken a symbolic action to oppose the role of slavery and colonialism.  In this regard, she stressed the need for understanding, recognizing and assuming the faults of the past as well as finding through reparations the way to fill gaps caused by colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade, while fostering tolerance and friendliness between races through education.  

MUHAMMAD RASHID (Pakistan)said that suppression of the right to self-determination is one of the gravest violations addressed by the Security Council, which include extra-judicial killings, sexual violence, displacement and forced geographical changes.  Adding that the right must be exercised freely, cannot lapse with time and cannot be undone through the instrumentalization of terrorism laws, he said the failure to uphold it is paid in blood.  The people of Kashmir have suffered too long from this bloodletting, he said.  Since India’s annexation of Jumma and Kashmir in 2019, there have been arbitrary arrests, abductions, violence and a lack of hospitals to care for the wounded, he lamented.  He stressed that as long as India ignores the lesson of history that a people’s yearning for freedom cannot be extinguished, the issue will remain on the United Nations agenda.

HEBA MOSTAFA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt) aligning herself the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that amid compounded challenges, the global situation is a breeding ground for racial and religious profiling and discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, calling for unified efforts to combat such human rights violations.  Alarmed by the resurgence in xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, racial discrimination, proliferation of hate speech, incitement to hatred and related intolerance, she said that digital platforms have facilitated the dissemination of such actions with impunity and disregard for their impacts on social stability.  She stressed the responsibility of States to establish necessary legal and ethical standards to govern the use of digital technologies to combat and eliminate such practices.  Further, she called on political platforms to refrain from proliferating hate speech and incitement to hatred and violence against persons based on religion or belief.

FATEMEH ARAB BAFRANI (Iran), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world is witnessing a disproportionate use of force, leading to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including children, the elderly, journalists and medical workers each day.  She also pointed to the “double standard being applied by the United States and some Western countries” towards people of African descent around the world.  Expressing concern over the intensifying trend of Islamophobia, she stated that it has emerged as a distinct form of racism that includes travel bans, hate speech and targeted attacks against Muslim women and girls.  Noting that unilateral coercive measures implemented by the United States have resulted in discrimination against innocent populations of  targeted countries based on their nationality, place of origin or residence, she called for the elimination of such measures.

NIZHAN FARAZ BIN RIZAL (Malaysia), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, expressed deep concern about the rise in Islamophobia and called on the international community to share knowledge and best practices and work towards peace — the only environment in which the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved.  As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, the Government believes that diversity and a multiplicity of perspectives are essential to peace.  To that end, the Government is implementing the Malaysian Family Unit plan, a five-year programme to achieve societal harmony in line with its COVID‑19 recovery initiatives.  Underscoring that while many countries have been able to exercise their right to self-determination, including his, he lamented that Palestine is still struggling because of Israel’s refusal to respect the two-State Solution decided by the same body that admitted it to the United Nations.  He said that Israel is given carte blanche to perpetuate its apartheid regime and make a mockery of the United Nations Charter.  Palestine must be allowed its right to self-determination, he said, adding that its full membership to the United Nations would facilitate this.

Ms. VANDERMUNTERT (Luxembourg), aligning herself with the statement by the European Union, noting the resurgence of racist, antisemitic and xenophobic trends globally, said that the fight against racism is urgent, requiring the attention of the international community to combat discrimination and hate speech, particularly affecting particular populations.  The fight against racism requires effective international frameworks, coordinated efforts with a strong multilateral system and must be an inclusive, committing civil society.  Stressing how her country committed to human rights mechanisms, she cited a sociological large-scale study carried out by her country to get an overview of racism and combat it.  Pointing to a national plan for integration, she said her country has an inter-ministerial delegate for coordinating policies against racism, antisemitism and anti-LGBTIQI+ hatred.

ELIE ALTARSHA (Syria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, stressed that his country has witnessed acts of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as grave violations of human rights perpetrated by the Israeli occupation in the occupied Golan and other occupied territories.  Noting that these practices are a “blatant embodiment of racism and hatred in their most hideous forms”, he called for promoting efforts under the umbrella of the United Nations to end racism, hate speech, extremism and to prevent related violence.  Pointing out that his Government considers that issues related to China, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, as their internal affairs, he underscored that it opposes any attempt to politicize human rights.

ANA PAULA BAPTISTA GRADE ZACARIAS (Portugal) said that racism exists in her country due to its colonial legacy as well as dissemination of hate‑speech on social media.  Acknowledging the systemic nature of discrimination, she said positive action is an everyday commitment.  Portugal takes its responsibility seriously, she said, adding that it was the first country in the European Union to establish a plan involving civil society organizations and integrated into a broader non‑discrimination and equality framework producing 80 concrete measures.  The country recently established the Independent Observatory on Hate Speech, Racism and Xenophobia and has also developed a policy to address discrimination in law enforcement through human rights training, and mandatory body cameras.  She called on the international community to speak up against racism whenever it occurs and to reject all forms of violence.

SILVIO GONZATO, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, rejects and condemns all forms or racism and intolerance, and remains firmly committed to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, both within the bloc and throughout the world.  Racism and racial discrimination run counter to the principles of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights that underpin the Union and that are common values to all its Member States.  The Union’s action in this area builds on a solid legal framework which has been developed over the years to address discrimination, racism, xenophobia, hate speech and crimes in all of its States, in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Another central element of the legal framework is the European Union Racial Equality Directive of 2000, which forbids all direct or indirect discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin.  The Commission will adopt, by the end of 2022, a new proposal for legislation on binding standards for equality bodies, which are essential for offering support to victims of discrimination, ensuring that the Union rules on equal treatment are properly enforced and for promoting equality and non‑discrimination.

KARL LAGATIE (Belgium) said that despite efforts made by States, the international community and civil society, millions of human beings continue to be victims of racism.  Noting that the international community has already discussed and adopted a number of initiatives, including mechanisms, groups of experts, programmes, conventions and resolutions, he said that tools are available to improve the situation.  Stressing his country’s commitment at the national and international level, he cited a set of measures adopted earlier this year to better combat racism.  One of their key objectives is to optimize the monitoring of racism by improving the differentiated collection of qualitative and quantitative data.  Training and awareness-raising are also an integral part of the fight against racism.  He called on States that have not ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to do so and on those having overdue reports to submit them as soon as possible.

Right of Reply

The representative of India, exercising his right of reply, stressed that Pakistan is attempting to divert the attention of the international community from serious human rights violations against minorities, women and girls being perpetrated in the country by referring to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.  Reiterating that the territory is and will always be an integral part of India, he called on Pakistan to stop its cross‑border terrorism so that citizens there can exercise their right to life and liberty.

The representative of Pakistan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responding to the statement of India, said Jammu and Kashmir are not and have never been part of India.  One of many Security Council resolutions on the matter clearly states that the question of access to Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite.  India has agreed to this, but has refused to allow it to take place for over seven decades, a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter.  Only an occupier would oppose the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which promised self‑determination to the people of the territory.  The people of Jammu and Kashmir have not yet exercised their right to self‑determination, a right promised to all people.  And now, India is on its way to transform it from a Muslim to a Hindu region, in blatant violation of the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions.  Rather than reflecting on the deeply troubling path it has embarked on, India has blamed Pakistan for persecution of minorities.  Pakistan’s statement on self‑determination did not talk about minorities in India, but the Indian representative spoke about the so‑called situation of minorities in Pakistan.

For information media. Not an official record.