|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
36th Meeting (AM)
Ten Years after Global Agreement in Durban on Framework to Combat Racism,
No Country Could Claim to Be Free from Scourge, Third Committee Told
Speakers Say Political Will, Funding Still Needed to Implement Action Programme;
Many Express Concern at Attempts to Renege on Commitments, Renegotiate Declaration
Ten years after the world collectively agreed on a comprehensive framework to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, resolute and renewed political will and adequate funding were still needed to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told today.
Launching the Committee’s joint consideration of elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the right of peoples to self‑determination, State delegations underscored that, ten years on, no country could claim to be free from racism’s destructive influence, and gaps between intentions and actions continued to hamper essential progress in ending that scourge.
“The lack of political will and commitment remains one of the core factors affecting global efforts toward the total eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” the representative of South Africa, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said, underscoring the significance of the Durban agenda as a comprehensive framework to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
He said the SADC Governments were deeply concerned that, following the historic achievements of Durban, there had been a discernible pattern by some countries to renege on the commitments made there. Attempts had also been made to renegotiate the Declaration and Programme of Action, while there had been little progress in implementing paragraphs 157 to 159, which call for programmes and funding to address the lack of social and economic development in States and societies affected by racial discrimination.
Several speakers during the half‑day debate expressed particular alarm over emerging forms of racism and intolerance. In that context, diverging viewpoints were voiced over the tensions between the need to ensure freedom of expression and to prohibit racism. Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Kenya’s representative shared concerns that insidious forms of racism were purportedly being legitimized or justified under the banner of freedom of expression.
A representative of the European Union said that, while the bloc shared the concerns that the internet was increasingly being used to promote and disseminate racist ideas, it nonetheless called on States to fully implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guaranteed the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
Underlining the assertion that slavery and the slave trade were crimes against humanity as one of the most significant achievements of the Durban Declaration, the representative of Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of the Caribbean Community, highlighted the decision to erect a permanent memorial at the United Nations to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. “This year, as we celebrate the International Year for Persons of African Descent, the Memorial takes on added significance, showcasing our determination to ensure that this historical wrong and its associated after‑effects of racism and racial discrimination will never be repeated,” he said.
Zeroing in on the right to self‑determination, a number of speakers called for the United Nations to consolidate decades of achievement in this area by ensuring its full enjoyment by the Palestinian and Kashmiri peoples. In that regard, Syria’s representative particularly stressed that the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination was a debt that fell to all Member States.
Also participating in today’s discussion were the representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), China, United States, Brazil, Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria and Indonesia.
Richard Bennett, the Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary‑General for Human Rights, introduced the reports of the Secretary‑General.
The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m., Monday, 31 October, to continue its discussion on the right to self-determination and the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to begin its joint consideration of elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the right of peoples to self‑determination.
It had before it a letter dated 15 September 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary‑General (document A/66/366–S/2011/584), which includes in its annex a statement by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding reports from Armenian media outlets on arrangements of so‑called “elections” to the “local self-governing bodies” in the Daghlyq Garabagh (Nagorno Karabakh) region on 18 September 2011.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its seventy‑eighth and seventy‑ninth sessions (document A/66/18), which is still to be issued.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/66/312). That report is submitted pursuant to resolution 65/199 on the inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in which the Assembly requested the Special Rapporteur to prepare a report on the resolution’s implementation, based on the views collected from Governments and non‑governmental organizations.
The Special Rapporteur summarizes the contributions sent by 14 States — Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Mauritius, Morocco, Portugal, Russian Federation, Serbia, Spain and Turkey — on the implementation of the resolution, as well as views sent by five non‑governmental organizations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees pertaining to the issue raised in the resolution.
In his concluding observations, the Special Rapporteur notes that, based on the information received and as evidenced by the horrifying mass murder in Norway on 22 July 2011, challenges remain which require greater efforts and increased political and legal vigilance from States. Extremist political parties, movements and groups continue to pose major challenges, especially with regard to the protection of vulnerable groups of individuals against racist and xenophobic crimes, and the protection and consolidation of democracy and human rights in general.
He stresses that a comprehensive approach based on a solid legal framework that also includes key complementary measures must be developed. States are urged to pay due attention to victims of racist crimes, whose rights to life and security of person are violated. The Special Rapporteur also strongly recommends that States collect ethnically disaggregated data on racist and xenophobic crimes and improve the quality of such data‑collection systems, arguing that such data can help States to develop effective policies and programmes to tackle crimes motivated by racist or xenophobic attitudes, to assess and monitor the effectiveness of measures taken, and to review existing legislation when necessary.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/66/313), which is submitted pursuant to Assembly resolution 65/240 on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Following a brief introduction, the Special Rapporteur refers, in section II of the report, to thematic issues of concern as addressed within the framework of his mandate since the submission of his previous report. Those issues include: structural discrimination; incitement to national, racial or religious hatred; extremist political parties, movements and groups, including neo‑Nazis and skinhead groups, and similar extremist ideological movements; and victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including people of African descent, Roma and the victims of discrimination based on work and descent, including discrimination based on caste and analogous systems of inherited status. He also highlights some best practices in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
In section III, the Special Rapporteur refers to activities carried out since his previous report, including country visits, thematic press releases, seminars and consultations. In section IV, he presents a number of conclusions and recommendations relating to the relevant issues of concern. Among other things, he emphasizes that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance unfortunately continue to have a negative impact on the full enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. This is particularly blatant for people of African descent, Roma, members of communities based on caste or analogous systems of inherited status and ethnic minorities in general, including in the areas of education, employment, health, housing, access to citizenship, administration of justice, racial profiling as well as access to political decision‑making and judicial systems. He provides several recommendations which could be used by States as tools for further analysis and progress, and underlines that full recognition of this scourge is a vital first step towards ending racial discrimination.
The Secretary‑General’s report on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/66/328) summarizes information on the implementation of Assembly resolution 65/240 received from 26 States and various United Nations entities, non‑governmental organizations, intergovernmental bodies and national human rights institutions.
The reports notes, in its concluding section, that even stronger political will and urgent measures are needed to reverse the worrisome trends over the last years of increasingly hostile racist and xenophobic attitudes and violence. Intercultural dialogue, tolerance and respect for diversity are essential for combating racial discrimination and related intolerance. Member States are encouraged to invite the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent to carry out country visits, particularly in light of the fact that 2011 is the International Year for People of African Descent. Member States, civil society organizations and other stakeholders are also encouraged to carry out activities in the context of the International Year. Member States that have not yet done so are also encouraged to develop and implement national action plans in order to combat racial discrimination and related intolerance.
The Secretary‑General’s report on the right of peoples to self‑determination (document A/66/172) outlines the relevant jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the treaty‑based human rights norms relating to the realization of the right of peoples to self‑determination. It also provides a summary of the developments relating to the consideration by the Human Rights Council of the subject matter, the referendum on the right of self‑determination of the people of South Sudan, and the situation concerning Western Sahara.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the report of the Working Group on use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self‑determination (document A/66/317). That report provides an update on recent activities of mercenaries and private military and security companies. As the latest events in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya have shown, mercenaries allegedly continue to be recruited and to be active, and the Working Group is especially concerned about the reported involvement of these mercenaries in serious human rights violations.
During the reporting period, the Working Groups saw some encouraging policy and legislative developments concerning private military and security companies in several countries. There had also been some progress in efforts to prosecute the employees of such companies for human rights violations. Nonetheless, there were concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability of those companies and the absence of an international regulatory framework through which to monitor their activities.
The report also presents an overview of the Working Group’s activities during the reporting period, including a summary of the discussions that were held during the expert seminar on the State monopoly on the legitimate use of force held on 6 and 7 July 2011. Finally, it takes stock of the activities and achievements under the mandate over the past six years, in particular the development of a draft convention on private military and security companies which is currently being considered by member States.
Introduction of Reports
Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary‑General for Human Rights, in remarks delivered by his Special Adviser RICHARD BENNETT, said he had the honour to introduce the report of the Secretary‑General on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation and follow‑up of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The report contained information by Member States, United Nations entities, regional organizations, national human rights institutions and non‑governmental organizations on the measures they had taken towards eliminating racism and discrimination and towards implementing the Durban Declaration. Activities by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination were also described, he said.
Also introducing the report of the Secretary‑General on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self‑determination, he said it outlined the latest developments in relevant jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the treaty‑based human rights norms related to the realization of the right of peoples to self‑determination. It also provided information on the Human Rights’ Council’s consideration of the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. A summary of the referendum on the right to self‑determination of the people of South Sudan was also included, as well as information on the situation concerning Western Sahara, he said.
MARCELO CARLOS CESA (Argentina), on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, welcomed the High‑level Meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and welcomed the adoption of its outcome political declaration. However, the scourge of racism still persisted and commitments must be translated into concrete action. In that context, he noted that the Durban Declaration and the outcome of its 2009 review conference remained the most effective framework for combating racism. He called for the full provision of needed resources to all bodies working toward that end. Intercultural and interreligious dialogue, mutual understanding, education and respect for religious, ethnic and cultural diversity were crucial for combating racism, he stressed.
He welcomed the Assembly’s decision to construct a permanent memorial to commemorate the victims of slavery and transatlantic slave trade. He reiterated the central importance of the international Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as the outcomes of the World Conference against Racism and the 2009 Durban Review Conference, in the fight to end racism and related intolerance. Further, resolute and renewed political will and adequate funding were indispensable in addressing racial discrimination.
JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO (Kenya), on behalf of the African Group, who aligned with the statement of the Group of 77 and China, said she was particularly concerned with insidious forms of racism and their purported legitimization or justification under the banner of freedom of expression. Notions of superiority or extremist platforms must be rejected through dismantling individual and structural forms of racism that were pervasive in many parts of the world. The international community must work through institutional support mechanisms, and engage further in the processes of education to reverse retrogressive attitudes that fuelled racism. “Ten years after the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Platform of Action, the world is still suffering deep divisions simply because peoples and nations are diverse and adhere to different values,” she said. “ Africa is committed to implementing the outcome of the Durban Conference and calls on all States to put in legislation, policies and programmes to implement the same.”
The main outcome of the World Conference against racism, was about changing individual and collective attitudes and going beyond mere words and rhetoric when dealing with the scourge of racism, she said. “It is about commitment to eliminating structural and systemic institutions, laws and policies that allow racism to flourish; it is about condemning racist conducts and attitudes and embracing multicultural, multiracial and multireligious societies,” she said. In that regard, the African Group urged the international community to continue intercultural dialogues and put in place strategies to achieve full and effective equality through international cooperation.
The fight against racism was also a fight for dignity and social justice, as well as human rights and fundamental freedom. “It is expected that having undergone the terrible events in history such as slavery, colonialism, apartheid, genocide and other human tragedies, the international community must be quick to deal firmly with any act or pronouncements that would evoke emotions that may lead to or bring to mind these past atrocities,” she said. Concluding with an expression of support for a permanent memorial at the United Nations to honour victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, she said, “Let it be a reminder of what human beings are capable of doing to fellow human beings. Let this also be our commitment to saying ‘Never Again’ to slavery, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide and racism.”
ABDUL SAMAD MINTY ( South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the “world spoke with one voice and reaffirmed its commitment to continue the fight against the scourge of racism and to do everything to eradicate it” in Durban. The world collectively agreed on the need and significance of a comprehensive framework to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which resulted in the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The SADC countries welcomed the political declaration adopted at the high‑level meeting to commemorate the Declaration’s adoption. Indeed, some progress had been made in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, but no country could claim to be free from their destructive influence. “We strongly advocate that the United Nations should lead from the front by mainstreaming the elimination of racism within the UN programmes and work and by assisting Governments to do so in their countries,” he said.
For their part, the SADC countries had instituted domestic laws to combat racism and to achieve substantive equality for their peoples in line with their constitutional imperatives, he said. Yet, they were deeply concerned that, following the historic achievements of Durban, there had been a discernible pattern by some countries to renege on the commitments made there. Attempts had also been made to renegotiate the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Moreover, little progress had been made to implement that declaration, in particular paragraphs 157 to 159. The SADC countries looked forward to working with all delegations, including those who were not able to participate in the recent high‑level event, in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. “The international community must not lose sight of the fight against racism, as well as the plight of the victims of this scourge,” he said.
Condemning all ideologies based on racial superiority and intolerance, he said prohibiting the dissemination of all ideas based on those ideologies or hatred was compatible with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, which had limits under international human rights law. Welcoming the progress made by the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, which agreed on a clear work programme, he said the SADC countries wished to place on record that the Durban follow‑up mechanisms had provided insight to the Human Rights Council. “The lack of political will and commitment remains one of the core factors affecting global efforts toward the total eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” he said, stressing that those phenomena were an affront to human dignity and constituted a total negation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. He urged the world not to be distracted in the noble struggle against it.-
CONROD C. HUNTE (Antigua and Barbuda), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), commended the decision to create a Working Group of Experts on People of African Decent and endorsed the appointments of an Independent Expert on Minority Issues and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Those institutional arrangements were positive steps towards providing a framework for implementation of the Durban action plan. Against that background, however, CARICOM noted with regret the recent resignation of the Special Rapporteur, which temporarily led to the suspension of work in that important area and, to a certain extent, created a gap for victims of racial discrimination.
At the same time, CARICOM welcomed the nomination of the new Special Rapporteur and was confident he would meet the demands of the office. Renewed emphasis and adequate funding for the follow‑up mechanisms of Durban, as well as sustained international cooperation, were indispensible to addressing all forms and manifestations of racism, he said. At the domestic level, CARICOM Governments had sought to protect the diverse nature of their societies while promoting equality, justice and dignity. One of the most significant achievements of the Durban Declaration was its assertion that slavery and the slave trade were crimes against humanity. In that respect, CARICOM, was pleased with the decision to erect a permanent memorial at the United Nations to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and supported other initiatives to strengthen the message of the Declaration.
“This year, as we celebrate the International Year for Persons of African Descent, the Memorial takes on added significance, showcasing our determination to ensure that this historical wrong and its associated after‑effects of racism and racial discrimination will never be repeated,” he said. CARICOM welcomed the recent launch of an international competition to identify a design for the permanent memorial, which would take the international community a step further in advancing implementation of paragraphs 101 and 102 of the Durban Declaration. Important challenges remained, despite century‑long fights against racism and racial discrimination, particularly against people of African descent. They had been left without access to basic healthcare and proper education, which made it difficult to realize their full potential.
RAFAEL DE BUSTAMENTE, representative of the European Union delegation, stressed that the Union was founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. It defended and promoted those values in its external actions, and rejected and condemned all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other similar types of intolerance, he said, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. “There is no room for complacency, including in Europe”, he said, adding that particular attention should be paid to persons belonging to vulnerable groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered persons and indigenous peoples.
Under Union legislation, Member States were required to introduce laws to prohibit racial discrimination. Such laws included prohibitions of discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin in many aspects of everyday life, he said, including employment, education, healthcare and housing. The Union was also committed to eliminating racism and racial discrimination against the Roma people and to promoting and protecting their rights and integration. Within the Union framework for national Roma integration strategies up to 2020, Member States were expected to address the specific needs of the Roma in four key areas: education, employment, health and housing. States were required to take into account the size and situation of the Roma population on their territory, among other factors.
Since its founding in 2007, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights continued to collect, analyze and disseminate data on various fundamental rights issues, including racism and xenophobia. The Union further called on all States that had not yet ratified or fully implemented the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to do so. In a year marked by horrific events in Norway, the Union reaffirmed its commitment to counter all extremist political parties, groups and ideological movements. While the Union shared the concern of the Special Rapporteur that the internet was increasingly being used to promote and disseminate racist ideas, it nonetheless called on States to fully implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guaranteed the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
SHEN SIWEI ( China), aligning with the statement by the Group of 77 and China, said racism posed a threat to development and represented a common challenge to humanity. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action identified a way forward in combating racism. China supported the political declaration resulting from September’s high‑level commemoration event and regretted that some countries boycotted the 2009 Durban Review Conference, as well as that high‑level event. The Chinese Government believed that States must close the gap in political divisions, strengthen their political cooperation, fully implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the outcome documents of subsequent follow‑up to the high‑level meeting.
She fully rejected the double standards seen in the fight to eliminate racism, as well as excuses that provided support for the existence and growth of racism in all forms. The international community should work together to combat all forms of racism, and take practical measures to eliminate its root causes and promote harmony between cultures and civilizations. Further, the international community should conform to the United Nations Charter and the relevant tenets of international law and promote peace, development and human rights.
China had consistently supported the people of Palestine in pursuing their legitimate right to self‑determination, she added. It supported Palestine’s membership in the United Nations. It also supported the Middle East peace process and hoped that the international community and all parties concerned would make unremitting efforts to push forward the peace process in the Middle East.
MARIA CLARISA SOLÓRZANO-ARRIGADA ( Nicaragua), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said her country welcomed the decision to adopt the resolution on the tenth anniversary of the Durban Conference. Nicaragua was aware that discrimination also covered other areas besides race, ethnicity and religion, and it was the duty of States to combat discrimination in all areas. As a multi‑ethnic State, it was its duty to respect political rights and religious freedoms. The Government also encouraged policies to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities, those with HIV and lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
In its efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Nicaragua had also created an office for equality in employment, while the special prosecutor for sexual diversity was promoting policies to guarantee the gay and lesbian community access to the public health system. Nicaragua was also adopting a commission to fight against racism, which would allow it to have a multi‑ethnic society free from all prejudice. Combating racism and all forms of discrimination, particularly towards those who were most vulnerable, like women and children, was indispensible. The right to self‑determination was also an important and inalienable right for all occupied peoples, and Nicaragua supported the people of the future Palestinian State.
JOHN F. SAMMIS ( United States) said that his country’s commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination was rooted in the “saddest chapters” of its history, and was reflected in the most cherished values of the United States. While there was still much progress to be made, it was working hard at every level, both domestically and internationally, to combat racism, racial discrimination and intolerance. The United States was implementing is obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination through the operation of its federal constitution, state constitutions and local laws, together with the federal and state machinery charged with protecting human rights. Its laws prohibited discrimination based on race in education, housing, employment and other important areas.
In order to avoid unprofessional and unlawful conduct, the United States Government was also undertaking outreach and training to improve the cultural competence of law enforcement officers, including immigration officials. It was working to ensure that such law enforcement misconduct was investigated and remedied and that hate crimes were prosecuted. Bilaterally, it was co‑funding and cooperating in anti‑racism programmes around the world, including joint anti‑racism programmes in Brazil and Colombia. It also worked domestically and around the world on activities and programmes that supported the International Year of People of African Descent.
ALAN COELHO DE SÉLLOS ( Brazil) reaffirmed his country’s unwavering support for the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. He noted that the recent commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Durban conference provided a chance to take stock of achievements and to identify persisting challenges in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. As the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance indicated, extremist parties, movements and groups continued to pose major challenges to protecting vulnerable groups against racist and xenophobic crimes all over the world. Thus, the provisions in the Durban agenda remained as relevant as ever.
He stressed that Brazil had made significant strides in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the last 10 years. The 2003 establishment of the Secretariat of Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality was largely the result of the country’ commitment to implementing the Durban agenda and embodied the recognition that the fight against racism must be approached from a political and institutional perspective. In 2010, the Statute of Racial Equality had established the State’s responsibility to ensure equal opportunities to all citizens, regardless of ethnic origin or skin colour. It also included a broad range of measures aimed at correcting historical injustices and promoting the social and economic inclusion of people of African descent. More than half of Brazil’s population had declared themselves of African descent in the 2010 census and the country had been an early supporter of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. Calling for States to gather the momentum generated by the International Year to galvanize efforts and re‑engage all relevant actors in the fight against racism, he noted that Brazil would host a Summit on People of African Descent from 17 to 19 November.
NATALIA ZOLOTOVA ( Russian Federation) said her country had consistently supported human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without any consideration to race, religion or language. As one of the major multi‑ethnic states of the world, it today had representatives of 222 ethnic peoples and had for a century managed to have inter‑ethnic and religious peace. But, it also had to recognize that trends of increasing tension and xenophobia had not bypassed the country. It was implementing a multisectoral programme to overcome intolerance, addressing and analyzing primary and secondary education components and introducing new practices to spread principles of tolerance and respect. The Government was carrying out broad work at all levels with representatives of all religions. Under the President, there was a council for religions, and there were groups to settle religious‑based conflict in all regions. But, she noted concern about increasing persecution of Christians in some countries, which required a great deal of work in international, regional and national human rights mechanisms. The Durban declaration had become increasingly relevant and remained the guideline for States to combat those phenomena, so it was unfortunate that many countries ignored the tenth anniversary Conference, which had been an opportunity to update international actions against intolerance.
She said her Government also continued to be concerned about the growth in racism and xenophobia, particularly in countries that had suffered at the hands of the Nazis. There should be no condoning of the ideas of the Nazis by pro‑fascist parties and propaganda. The restrained response of European Union authorities to it was hard to believe and understand, as was the decision of certain judicial bodies to strike out the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which had been the foundation of the modern legal framework that recognized the Nazi SS as a criminal organization. Western countries had, in the past, abstained on the resolution of the inadmissibility of certain practices which contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. She expressed hope that in this General Assembly, out of respect for victims of World War II, everyone would this time respect the Russian initiative. There needed to be a barrier against the ideas of racial discrimination or religious supremacy, which served as an opening for new threats. United efforts in combating those through tolerance and mutual respect were prerequisites for a victory over the scourge of racism.
NURBEK KASYMOV (Kyrgyzstan), pointing to the terrorist act committed in Norway in July, said his delegation agreed that States needed to demonstrate greater political will and take immediate steps to turn back the recent alarming trend in hostile, racist and xenophobic attitudes and violence. He commended the work of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. Highlighting his country’s location, he noted its unique ethnic composition, in which more than a third of the population was comprised of ethnic minorities. Kyrgyzstan supported diversity and its constitution provided a framework to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all. Moreover, the standards of human rights treaties had a direct impact in Kyrgyzstan and the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had been incorporated in a range of laws and programmes.
He stressed that the outcome document of September’s high‑level meeting had reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to the Durban principles. Nonetheless, the implementation of the Durban Declaration remained unsatisfactory. Strict compliance with the principle of absolute intolerance of racism at national and international levels was critical to further implementing that crucial document. Racial discrimination must be confirmed as incompatible with democracy. Effective actions must be taken, primarily through changes in legislation.
MARGARITA VALLE CAMINO ( Cuba) said the world continued to witness xenophobic programmes, and she thought it was unacceptable to have cultures and religions that were equated to terrorism and violence. On a daily basis neo‑fascist, anti‑terrorist and anti‑immigrant laws mistreated migrants. It was not enough to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration; a new economic order was needed based on equity, solidarity and social justice. It was also necessary to combat negative stereotypes and promote the diversity of cultures through education. In that regard, Cuba supported the work of the intergovernmental group and hoped that States would demonstrate the political will to end racism.
Cuba, as it did every year, would submit a draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self‑determination. It reflected the importance of creating a binding international instrument to further protect those human rights. In that regard, Cuba also supported the unassailable right of the Palestinian people to have their own sovereign State. They had the freedom to decide on their own political and economic system, as did all States. Despite the existence of that right, certain states implemented illegal and unilateral action against others, and Cuba had suffered in that regard under the blockade condemned a number of times by the international community. The Cuban people had to confront, for more than half a century, actions by the United States that countered its right to self‑determination, which it had acquired after a more than a century of fighting for independence.
MONIA ALSALEH ( Syria) said racism was increasing, resulting in rising racial hatred, which was often propagated through the use of information and communications technologies. That led to the defamation of religions and claims of supremacy of one religion over another, causing, in turn, feelings of mistaken superiority and hatred of others. Together, those phenomena constituted a threat to international peace and security and turned back progress in international cooperation. In particular, the racial segregation of Israel compromised life, including through the construction of a barrier wall, which excluded indigenous peoples — namely, Palestinians — from their territory. Daily racist practices were committed against the Palestinian people on well‑known pretexts. Moreover, the Israeli authorities were building a new separation wall on the occupied Syrian Golan as part of its efforts to change the nature of that territory, thereby effecting a fait accompli on the ground and contradicting the Geneva Conventions. Adding to that were the racist actions of the Israeli forces, who had detained journalists, students and farmers from the occupied Syrian Golan. Their only crime was rejecting the occupation and burning their Israeli identity cards.
She stressed that those violations of human rights reaffirmed the growing racist trend that had taken root in Israel. In that regard, she pointed to the daily killings of young Palestinians, as well as the killings of Syrian and Lebanese demonstrators who only wished to exercise their right to return to their homeland. Those protecting Israel in the United Nations continually failed to recognize its crimes. Further, they were helping it in the commission of those crimes. She called on the United Nations to act immediately in conformity with its commitments to deal with those racist actions. It was regrettable that the United Nations was still incapable and was, perhaps, deliberately not taking all effective measures to guarantee the sacred rights of those suffering under occupation. The right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination was a debt that fell to all Member States, she stressed.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said unfortunately the exercise of right to self‑determination continued to be denied in different parts of the world, most notably in Jammu and Kashmir, and Palestine. ”The human rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected. Their voices should be heard to create an enabling environment for a peaceful resolution of the long‑standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Pakistan reaffirms its complete solidarity with the Kashmiris and will continue to extend its full moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their just cause,” he said. Pakistan desired good and friendly relations with India based on equality and mutual trust, and remained sincerely committed to the resumed dialogue process with India.
On the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Pakistan aligned with the statement of the Group of 77 and China. Rejection of diversity had led to negation of the rights of immigrants, foreigners and minorities, he said. The most serious manifestation of racism was its legitimization in the guise of defending “identity or preference” — that was counterproductive and antithesis to multiculturalism. Pakistan had remained actively involved in the promotion of anti‑racism at all forums, based on the principle that racism in all its forms and manifestations countered the fundamental values of peace, equality, justice and brotherhood espoused by Islam and all religions of the world. To provide an adequate response to new and emerging forms of racism, enhanced attention to intercultural and interreligious dialogue and promotion of tolerance was needed.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the International Convention on the Abolition of Slavery and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination would not be achieved without full acceptance of that cultural, religious and civilizational diversity that enriched human rights, contributed to peaceful coexistence and reinforced democratic principles. The proliferation of radical and racist right‑wing movements in democratic societies represented an alarming trend and jeopardized, among other things, the fight against terrorism. Respect for the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance required the international community to exert honest efforts to fight racism. To that end, they should address shortfalls in laws aimed at prohibiting incitement to racism and discrimination. Legislation and administrative mechanisms to combat such phenomena, including by providing adequate training to those responsible for implementing them, should also be strengthened. Appropriate recourse and due process to ensure justice and compensation for victims of racial discrimination should also be provided. He called for international support for initiatives at all levels aimed at further dialogue between cultures, civilizations and religions on the solid foundation of mutual understanding and respect.
Further underlining the right to self‑determination as an inalienable right established in the United Nations Charter, he said it was essential for promoting and protecting human rights. Despite significant progress in enabling peoples to enjoy that right, the Organization had been continuously politicized when it came to ensuring that right for the Palestinian people. Egypt reaffirmed its call for the full implementation of the recommendations of the Goldstone Report. The international community had a moral and legal responsibility to prevent the reoccurrence of human rights violations against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, including by ensuring that the perpetrators were held responsible for their acts without impunity. Egypt urged the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to include in his next report specific recommendations on how the Human Rights Council could investigate and deal with Israel’s human rights violations. It agreed that declaring the Third Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism 2011‑2020 would send the right message and encourage all parties to speed up work to achieve tangible results.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), aligning with the Group of 77 and China as well as the African Group, said the question of racial discrimination was at the heart of human rights, because it affected issues of dignity and justice. Racism had adapted to the contemporary world and spread in all areas, encouraging discrimination of others. It was trying to grant itself political recognition, by operating against new migrants and immigrant communities in some countries. Further, under alleged freedom of information, some media incited racism and xenophobia. Lax attitudes countering those trends led to hatred. Islamophobia and racial profiling were some of the new forms of racism and intolerance.
The Constitution of Algeria said all citizens were equal before the law, granting equal treatment to foreigners on Algerian territory. Legislation in the country prohibited direct or indirect dissemination of messages of racism. The right to self‑determination was also a founding principle of the United Nations, consecrated by the Charter, and he rejected isolated attempts at new interpretations of that law. Algeria had made the right to self‑determination a cardinal part of its foreign policy; the United Nations, which patiently worked for decolonization, must persevere to ensure the full enjoyment of the rights of people under occupation. At a time when new generations of human rights were being developed and established, that right was still inaccessible to the people of Palestine and the 16 non‑autonomous territories on the list of decolonization.
ACEP SOMANTRI ( Indonesia) said the reports of the Secretary‑General and the Special Rapporteur highlighted best practices on combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Indonesia strongly and frequently supported initiatives aimed at promoting a culture of peace. It had passed a law on anti‑discrimination to combat all forms of ethnic and racial discrimination. Continued efforts were underway to raise awareness. It had adopted a law on information and electronic transactions criminalizing any acts of incitement to violence and hatred. Collective efforts were needed to address the continuing challenges in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Noting that more migrants were moving to the developed world, he stressed that all those in vulnerable situations must have adequate access to basic services. Countries of origin, transit and destination must put in place effective awareness campaigns to raise the issue of migrants. Too often, migrants were frequently mistreated and detained by law enforcement agencies. They must be treated humanely and in conformity with international principles. Finally, he emphasized that Indonesia was working for the full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as the outcome document of its 2009 Review Conferences.
* *** *For information media • not an official record