|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
States Parties to Convention
against Racial Discrimination
1st Meeting (AM)
States Parties Elect 9 Members to Committee on Elimination
of Racial Discrimination
Concerns Raised over Compliance with Reporting Obligations, Funding, Workload
States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination elected nine members to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today, replacing colleagues whose four-year terms are set to expire on 19 January 2014.
The Committee, comprising 18 independent experts, monitors implementation of the Convention by its States parties. Its members are elected for terms of four years, in accordance with article 8 of the Convention. Elections for nine of them are held every two years, ensuring a balance between continuity and change in the Committee’s composition.
With 174 States parties voting by secret ballot in two rounds, the following eight members were elected during the first round: José Augusto Lindgren Alves of Brazil (138 votes); Marc Bossuyt of Belgium (130 votes); Anwar Kemal of Pakistan (128 votes); Gün Kut of Turkey (125 votes); Yeung Sik Yuen Yeung Kam John of Mauritius (120 votes); Anastasia Crickley of Ireland (119 votes); Noureddine Amir of Algeria (102 votes); and Afiwa-Kindena Hohoueto of Togo (95 votes).
As no other candidate received the 88-vote majority required to become the ninth and final elected member, a second round of balloting was held, with 171 States parties voting. The following member was then elected: Melhem Khalaf of Lebanon (89 votes).
Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, outlined recent developments, announcing that Grenada had become a party to the Convention since the Committee’s last meeting, bringing the total number of States parties to 176. While that high number reflected the international community’s continuing interest in advancing the goals and objectives of the Convention, “there is still some way to go towards the goal of universal ratification”, he said.
Established in 1969, the Committee had held 82 sessions to date, considering 29 initial or periodic reports in the three sessions held in 2012 and 2013, he continued. In each case, it had adopted conclusions and recommendations aimed at effective implementation of the Convention at the national level. It also continued its practice of reviewing implementation of the treaty in States whose reports were seriously overdue.
As important as the Committee’s contributions had been, there was room for improvement, he emphasized. For instance, only 55 States parties had made the optional declaration recognizing the Committee’s competence to receive communications under article 14 of the Convention. As a consequence, the Committee’s individual communications procedure remained underutilized, and it had, therefore, taken up only two opinions on communications during the past three sessions.
Noting that the Committee had seen a steady increase in its work, he said the extended meeting time granted temporarily by the General Assembly in December 2010 had allowed the Committee to address its backlog of reports awaiting consideration. Nonetheless, as it went back to its three-week sessions, the Committee had already begun to accumulate a backlog and had lost the great momentum it had achieved.
Regarding the process of strengthening treaty bodies, he said the Committee continued to play a key role, with its Chair and other representatives participating in all consultations. The Committee had adopted a public statement on the treaty-body-strengthening process in which it reiterated that efforts to strengthen the treaty body system — including through adequate resourcing — were necessary to build on its past achievements and ensure that the rights enshrined in the treaties were implemented globally.
Turning to financing activities under the Convention, he recalled that the General Assembly had endorsed, in 1992, the amendment to article 8 of the Convention providing for the financing of the Committee’s activities, and requested the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures to provide for its funding from the regular budget. To date, only 43 States had ratified the amendment, despite the Assembly’s repeated calls, he noted. For the amendment to enter into force, acceptance must be received from two thirds of the States parties, or 116 States. At the same time, the Secretariat was still chasing up voluntary contributions that were in arrears from the previous financial regime under which the Committee had functioned.
Also making a statement today was the representative of Liechtenstein, who said the Committee was a case in point in respect of the need to develop a long-term sustainable treaty body system that respected its core mandate and preserved its strengths. In the past, the Committee had managed to eliminate its backlog of reports pending consideration through ad hoc measures, but reports were beginning to pile up again.
At the same time, most States parties were not in compliance with their respective reporting obligations at all, or in a timely manner, he said, stressing at it was the responsibility of the General Assembly to resource the Committee in a sustainable manner. “But we also need to have a serious discussion among States Parties on how best to ensure compliance with reporting obligations.” Ensuing high quality and expertise in the membership was also a core responsibility of States parties. Liechtenstein had consistently advocated for increased fairness and transparency in election campaigns, including through a platform that would allow candidates to present themselves on an equal footing.
At the outset of the Meeting, States parties elected Henry Leonard Mac-Donald ( Suriname), by acclamation, to serve as Chair. Elected as Vice-Chairpersons were Théodore Dah ( Côte d’Ivoire), Javier García-Larrache ( Spain) and Oleksandr Pavlichenko ( Ukraine).
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