|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixtieth General Assembly
34th Meeting (AM)
ACCEPTANCE OF MULTICULTURALISM AT HEART OF GLOBAL FIGHT
AGAINST DISCRIMINATION, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD
As Debate Begins on Elimination of Racism, Speakers Warn
Of Dangerous Rise in Religious Phobia, Particularly Aimed at Muslims
Acceptance of and commitment to multiculturalism was at the heart of the global fight against discrimination and xenophobia, Doudou Diene, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it took up consideration of its agenda item on the elimination of racism and racial discrimination.
In some States, the refusal to recognize ethnic and religious pluralism had led to racist practices and xenophobia, he said. Racist policies and beliefs, notably Islamaphobia since the 11 September 2001 attacks and the xenophobic ideas of extreme right political groups, were also being mainstreamed and justified as necessary to end terrorism and illegal immigration. In some cases, laws and security practices were such that foreigners, asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants were treated as criminals. The rise in religious phobia, of Muslims and other groups as well, was particularly dangerous, and deserved special attention by the international community.
All forms of racism and racial discrimination must be treated equally, he said, calling for stronger laws, as well as educational and cultural strategies to end it. Mr. Diene’s report to the forthcoming session of the Commission on Human Rights would adopt a critical and forward-looking analysis of the situation.
Opening the general debate on the issue, the United Kingdom’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said States must ensure that global efforts to end terrorism were in conformity with international human rights law and did not breed new forms of discrimination. There was a risk of identifying entire groups of people with terrorists or their supporters, he said.
Pakistan’s representative, in particular, said that as racism and discrimination continued to expand, his delegation was deeply concerned about the increase in discriminatory acts, especially those directed against Islam and Muslims. Such discrimination included attacks against their places of worship, racial profiling, and the curtailment of civil rights in many countries, among other actions. Such acts had also caused great harm to inter-societal peace and harmony, as well as to the global fight against terrorism.
Along those lines, Egypt’s representative said humanity was suffering from various kinds of social ills, the most dangerous of which was oppression of one human being by another, or the alienation of one human being on the basis of colour, race, religion or belief. As a result of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, there was a danger that the fight against terrorism, on the one hand, and the race or religion of people, on the other, could be confused. That confusion had led to discrimination and oppression, especially of the Arab community, and was damaging to the work and activities of Arab Muslims in their daily lives, he said.
The representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and China also made statements today.
At the start of the meeting, the Committee also concluded hearing statements in exercise of the right of reply on the issue of human rights from the previous week. The representatives of Canada, Pakistan, Ethiopia, United States, Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, Iran, Nepal, Côte d’Ivoire, Azerbaijan, as well as the observer of Palestine made statements in that regard.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 November, to conclude its general debate on the elimination of racism and racial discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination.
The Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) met today to begin its general debate on elimination of racism and racial discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination.
The Committee had before it the Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (document A/60/18), which covers the sixty-sixth and sixty-seventh sessions. The report concludes that, as important as the Committee’s contributions have been to date, there is obviously some room for improvement. Only 46 States parties have made the optional declaration recognizing the Committee’s competence to receive communications under article 14 of the Convention and, as a consequence, the individual communications procedure is underutilized, as is the inter-State complaints procedure. Furthermore, only 39 States parties have so far ratified the amendments to article 8 of the Convention adopted at the fourteenth meeting of States parties, despite repeated calls from the General Assembly to do so.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s note on the fight against 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/60/283), which transmits the interim report prepared by Doudou Diéne, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
In the report, the Special Rapporteur reviews activities in the context of follow-up to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and comments on resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights, including the need to give equal treatment to all forms of racism and discrimination and the upsurge in racist acts committed by neo-Nazi and extreme right groups. The report also covers the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Japan, and includes recommendations to the General Assembly.
The Committee also had before it 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/60/307), which focuses on activities of States, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, international and regional organizations, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and youth groups and organizations to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
The report states that the momentum of the World Conference continues, and that reports from Governments, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations indicate that all stakeholders are cooperating with each other to end racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance. Furthermore, new forms of racism are receiving increased attention and reporting and monitoring of racist crimes and incidents was slowly increasing.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s note (document A/60/263), transmitting the report of Shaista Shameen, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination.
The report said the Commission on Human Rights, during its sixty-first session, had decided to end the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and replace it with a working group. In her report, the Special Rapporteur gave proposals on how the working group could further develop her mandate. She had also recommended a substantive, comprehensive review of the legal definition of mercenaries and their activities, and called for an international debate on the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.
The Special Rapporteur indicated in the report that she had received a limited number of responses from Member States regarding a new definition of mercenary and believed that under the current process it would take a long time to adopt a new definition. The report noted that there were limited domestic laws against the practice.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/60/268), which summarizes developments at the sixty-first session of the Commission on Human Rights and relevant principles from the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee regarding violations of the right to self-determination, resulting from foreign military intervention, aggression or occupation.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s note (document A/60/319), which states that the Commission on Human Rights decided to end the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to self-determination and to establish a working group, comprised of one expert from each of five regional groups, for a three-year period.
The Working Group’s mandate was to elaborate and present concrete proposals on possible new standards, guidelines or principles to encourage further human rights protection; seek opinions or contributions from Governments, inter-governmental organization or non-governmental organizations; monitor mercenaries and their activities; and monitor and study the impact of the international activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services for the enjoyment of human rights.
The Committee had before it a letter dated 5 July 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/60/111), which transmits the Doha Declaration and Doha Plan of Action adopted by the Second South Summit of the “Group of 77” held 12 to 16 June 2005 in Doha.
Also before the Committee was a letter dated 17 October 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Yemen to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/60/440-S/2005/658), which transmits the Final communiqué of the annual coordination meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the States members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 23 September 2005.
Statements in the exercise of the right of reply
At the start of the meeting, the Committee concluded hearing statements in exercise of the right of reply on the issue of human rights from the previous week.
The representative of Canada, responding to the statement from the representative of Iran, said his delegation certainly agreed that no country could claim a perfect human rights record, and that everyone needed guidance, assistance and collective wisdom to move forward. By any reasonable set of indicators, Canada took its human rights obligations extremely seriously. No one in Canada was sent to jail for having expressed an opinion, anyone could run for political office, and no one, including juveniles, was executed. While there were areas where Canada needed to improve, what characterized the country was that it acknowledged its challenges, and had a desire to progress. Canada also fully cooperated with all United Nations institutions and mechanisms on human rights. If only countries with a perfect human rights record were allowed to speak out internationally on human rights, there would be silence in the room, he added.
The representative of Pakistan said Canada’s statement offered a clear example of what was wrong with the human rights system, where double-standards were practiced with regard to Islamic countries. Canada expressed its concern about the human rights record of 22 nations. Why did it practice such selectivity, and why were so many of those countries in the Islamic world? The concern for human rights disappeared when economic and political interests prevailed. There was an utter disregard for religious sensibilities. Officials had no qualms denigrating even the holiest person in Islam. Canada was silent about gross human rights violations in “our part of the world”. Surely Canada, with its respectable history of human rights defence, would move beyond the myopic view expressed in today’s statement.
The representative of Ethiopia responded to Canada’s statement that the use of force against opposition demonstrators and their detention following recent elections marked a decline in political rights and freedoms in Ethiopia. The country’s third national election, held in May, was declared “free and fair” by international observers like the Carter Center and the African Union. Irregularities were addressed in a process that also involved international observers. Despite the long election process, some opposition parties had chosen the path of street violence to remove the constitutionally elected Government. The Government had a constitutional obligation to prevent such groups from wreaking havoc. Those involved in street violence had been detained and would be tried. No one, political leader or ordinary citizen, was above the law. Surely, the Government of Canada would not entertain such lawlessness under the guise of political opposition in its own country.
The representative of United States said his country was committed to building a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. The proof of how the United States treated its people –- most of whom were immigrants –- was evident in that it welcomed immigrants from every corner of the world. Freedom, equality, tolerance and respect for the human rights of all people were critical conditions for the United States and for every other nation. President George Bush had made it completely clear that the United States Government categorically and unequivocally did not endorse, tolerate or condone torture. The American response to the terrorist attacks launched on the United States on 11 September had yielded many enemy combatants, and their detainment was a matter of national security, military necessity and common sense. All detainees were treated in accordance with international obligations and the principles of the Geneva Convention. The United States was also committed to shining a spotlight of truth on any assault to human dignity, whether at home or abroad. Recognizing that each country had a unique history and that their traditions would lead them on different routes, he added that the United States was prepared to stand by those who sought freedom.
The representative of Cyprus said it was regrettable that the statement made by Turkey’s representative used false accusations and distortions in an attempt to divert attention. If the division of Cyprus persisted, it was because the Turkish army continued to occupy a significant part of an independent, sovereign country. The decisions of various international bodies, including Security Council resolutions, spoke for themselves. The argument that had been put forward by the Turkish side was baseless, as Turkey remained responsible for the difficulties the Turkish Cypriots were facing. The Government of Cyprus fully supported all efforts for the improvement of the economic situation of the Turkish Cypriots, but that should not be used to promote secessionist aims, nor should it be used in violation of international law.
The representative of Greece, speaking in response to a statement last Wednesday from the representative of Turkey, said that the facts in Cyprus were crystal clear and recognized by international bodies. Relevant Security Council resolutions and reports of the Secretary-General could not be disputed. No false statements or references to the past could cover up Turkey’s international responsibilities or its refusal to comply with them. He cited an April decision of the European Court for Human Rights, which found that Turkey continued to exercise military control over Cyprus and hadn’t shown any change in that respect. The root cause of problems there was nothing but the continuing Turkish military occupation of Cyprus.
The representative of Armenia said she could not help but express regret at the continuation of rhetoric and misinformation in the statement made by the representative of Azerbaijan. Any attempt of entertaining the idea of annexation, as well as reference to military aggression, was a mere falsification of events. The ensuing situation of certain territories was the result of Azerbaijan’s own decision to use military force. The statement made by representative of Azerbaijan was an attempt to depict the people of Nagorno-Karabakh as a minority. Any claim of Nagorno-Karabakh being an integral part of Azerbaijan was erroneous and misleading, and Azerbaijan’s claims were unsubstantiated. She reiterated her Government’s position of reopening regional communication links to allow for a creation of a favourable solution.
The representative of Iran said Canada’s accusations against Iran were unacceptable, as was Canada’s belief in selectivity, and that it alone had the right to raise questions regarding human rights violations in other countries. Iran’s statement had been drawn from the report of the various special rapporteurs. The 500 disappearances, extrajudicial and summary executions, and other policies of brutality were manifestations of human rights violation in Canada. He said Canada should respond in a responsible manner to these allegations and not make allegations against other countries.
The representative of Nepal said preparations were underway regarding the upcoming elections in the country. Referring to the statement made by the representative of Canada, she said a state of emergency no longer existed in Nepal. It had been imposed on 1 February 2005, but had already been lifted, effective 29 April 2005. Nepal was party to a number of international human rights, and had submitted reports to respective human rights bodies. Her Government reiterated its full commitment to protecting and promoting human rights in the country despite ongoing conflict. Furthermore, the human rights situation had been improving in the country, which had been acknowledged in reports by the OHCHR, she said.
The representative of C ôte d’Ivoire said Canada’s statement was not appropriate. Côte d’Ivoire had made progress in human rights. It had created a department within the Ministry of Human Rights to address such concerns; ratified all major international human rights conventions; and enacted laws guaranteeing the principles of human rights and justice. The armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire had divided the country. Rebel groups occupied large sections. Despite that unfavourable situation, Côte d’Ivoire’s institutions were functioning and human rights violations were being prosecuted. The person accused of murdering a French journalist had received a 17-year prison sentence. Côte d’Ivoire was open to all inquiry missions regarding human rights allegations in the country and would welcome disarmament, which would allow for a return to normality. Protection of and respect for human rights were universal obligations of all States and must be approached in a constructive way.
The representative of Azerbaijan said her delegation had expressed its position previously with regard to the statement made by Armenia’s representative. However, she wanted to add that no justification had been provided by the Armenian side to the points raised earlier, as was always the case. Azerbaijan always adhered to the principles of international law, including self-determination. Nevertheless, artificial attempts to apply that fact to the Armenian rights of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh could not serve as a basis of claims for the secession of the region. She called on the Government of Armenia to exercise some degree of self-evaluation, and to analyse its own international obligations in the field of human rights, instead of accusing other States. She added that United Nations treaty bodies had expressed concern over the spirit of intolerance and discrimination in Armenia, which had resulted in the transformation of Armenia to a mono-ethnic State.
The observer of Palestine said Israel was an occupying power and was the root cause of the violence of Palestinians against Israeli citizens in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The largest obstacle to peace in the area was not terrorism, it was occupation. Palestinian violence against Israelis was a reaction to occupation. While Palestinian leaders had condemned violence and the loss of life on both sides, Israel had never condemned the killing of Palestinian citizens, including women and children. Israel’s statement had portrayed an improvement in the situation since the 1990s. However, that had been one of the darkest chapters in Palestinian history, she said, stressing that in the last five years, almost 3,800 Palestinians had been killed and thousands more wounded as a result of the occupation.
While she viewed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza as positive, she said it was important to be realistic. Israel had unilaterally disengaged after 38 years of occupation, but its legal status remained unchanged. Gaza was currently a humanitarian catastrophe. Its legal status and humanitarian issues must be resolved, including the occupation of East Jerusalem, in order for the withdrawal to be deemed a success. No one should allow Israel to distort the facts about what was happening on the ground.
The representative of Armenia said she had not referred in her statement to the human rights situation in any country, including Armenia, Azerbaijan or Nagorno-Karabakh. That was a different issue that was not being discussed today. However, if there was to be a reference to human rights violations, they had been duly reflected in the reports of international and global non-governmental organizations, and were available to the Committee for objective examination, she said.
Opening the general debate on the issues of elimination of racism and racial discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination, CRAIG MOKHIBER, Officer-in-Charge of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), introduced several reports of the Secretary-General prepared on the subjects. That included the 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/60/307), which he said focused on responses on implementation of the Durban Declaration that had been received by States, the OHCHR, United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, international and regional organizations, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and youth groups, and other organizations. This year’s report, which also included a part on human rights mechanisms, demonstrated that the various stakeholders used the platform of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to act against racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance, he said.
The Secretary-General’s report on the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/60/268), undertook a thematic approach and summarized the developments pertaining to the issue at the sixty-first session of the Commission on Human Rights, as well as the relevant principles from the jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, he continued. The report of the Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/60/263) was the Special Rapporteur’s second and final report in that capacity, as the mandate had been terminated and replaced by a Working Group, of which the Special Rapporteur would be a member. The report attempted to draw attention to what the Special Rapporteur considered the root causes of the phenomenon of mercenaries, and called for a reconsideration of the nature of modern warfare and the roles and responsibilities of relevant actors, he said.
He also introduced a note prepared by the Secretariat in lieu of a report by the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/60/319), which he said outlined the mandate and provided information on the steps taken by the Chair of the Commission to nominate its members.
In presenting his report, DOUDOU DIENE, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that the refusal to recognize ethnic and religious pluralism in some States had led to racial discrimination and xenophobia. Discrimination had become more complex due to the racial factors of crises. The political will to deal with racism must be accompanied by intellectual and scientific efforts to identify deep-rooted causes of racism. Such causes were universal. All forms of racism and racial discrimination should be treated equally. In his report, he had suggested that the General Assembly give special attention to Islamaphobia, which had been growing in the form of counter-terrorism policies since 11 September 2001. Anti-semitism and other forms of religious racism also needed increased vigilance.
Racism was also being justified as part of the fight against terrorism or against illegal immigration, he said. Legislation and administrative and security practices had turned foreigners, asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants into criminals, he said, noting that such people had recently been subjected to, with no means of defence, physical abuse by law enforcement and detention in small, unsanitary areas at waiting areas in airports, ports and railroad stations. His report included recommendations that States take necessary measures to ensure that human rights protections were upheld in waiting areas.
Regarding racism in soccer, he noted that leaders of certain prestigious or famous soccer teams had engaged in legitimate acts of a racist character. He recommended anti-discrimination education and information campaigns, imposing firm sanctions on racist perpetrators, and greater cooperation between institutional sports bodies and United Nations. International mobilization against racism in sports was necessary, he said, stressing the importance of international cooperation among the German Government, which was sponsoring the World Cup sports event in 2006, international sports teams, international sports institutions and the United Nations Secretary-General.
Turning to his visits to Japan and Brazil, he said officials in both countries had exhibited a commitment to fight racism and xenophobia. The Brazilian President was committed to tackling his country’s heritage of political, economic and social racism. The indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities in Brazil continued to be socio-economically marginalized and invisible in the structures of power. Despite affirmative action programmes in Brazilian universities, genuine resistance to ending racism still existed. In Japan, insularity had bred real racism and xenophobia. Korean and Chinese minorities, as well as new immigrants from Asia and Africa, were still subjected to racism. Overall legislation to combat racism in Japan would undoubtedly bolster Japan’s reputation.
He said that, in his report to the forthcoming session of the Commission on Human Rights, he would adopt a critical and forward-looking analysis. He called for strengthening the legal apparatus against racism and for educational and cultural strategies to end it.
During the question-and-answer period following Mr. DIENE’s statement, the representative of China enquired about his proposals to the Japanese Government to end racism. Such proposals, Mr. Diene said, would be documented in his report to the Commission on Human Rights.
As to the query from the representative of Japan on his criteria for selecting countries to visit, he said he would first request that countries invite him by extending an invitation. He had made such a request to Japan, to study the occurrence and impact of racism in a highly technologically and intellectually advanced society. Japan was clearly committed to multiculturalism. His visit would enable him to see what progress had been made to ease Japan’s historical burden of racism. He called for stronger political will to combat racism, and for Japanese authorities to state their position on the xenophobic speeches of the Governor of Tokyo. Further, he called for identifying history’s role in Japan and how in fact history was being taught.
As to a question from the representative of Brazil on the role of the private sector in ensuring greater diversity in the workplace, he said the Brazilian President was committed to changing the Brazilian mindset. His report would emphasize that Brazil often appeared to be two different worlds. The masses were multicultural, but those in positions of power in politics and the media were all white. Social marginalization of non-whites was prevalent. He stressed the importance of political will to change that and said Brazil’s affirmative action initiatives were a step in the right direction. However, there was resistance in the private sector, particularly the banking sector, to affirmative action. The private sector should be systematically included in all national policies, he said, and called on Brazil’s private sector to voluntarily pursue affirmative action.
As to the statement of the representative of Cote d’Ivoire on multiculturalism, he said no family in Cote d’Ivoire was mono-ethnic. Foreigners and immigrants were not ostracized or marginalized. However, there was, in fact, a xenophobic process there in which police had targeted communities and different ethnic groups based on their clothing or their physical appearance.
Responding to a question from the representatives of Cuba and Egypt on the rise in xenophobic ideas in political party agendas, he said racist declarations of extreme right groups to combat terrorism and illegal immigration were infiltrating into leading political platforms. That was serious and people were in the dark about how democratic parties were incorporating those racist ideologies.
Regarding the need to defend multiculturalism in a world of increased discrimination, he said the main concern was the refusal of some States to recognize multiculturalism, such as in Japan.
Xenophobia was a serious form of discrimination, he continued. It attempted to identify Islam with terrorism. In some countries, Islam and Muslims practising it had been ostracized. That trend must be recognized by the General Assembly. At the request of the Commission on Human Rights, he was preparing a report on that situation and would organize a meeting of experts this month to collect the necessary data to submit to the Commission. The international community must link the fight against racism with the increasing xenophobia. There could be democratic, open multiculturalism or ethnic communities living separately, but side by side.
As to a question from the representative of Egypt concerning religious defamation, he said all religious phobia required equal treatment. Attacks against other religious groups, not just Muslims, showed that the global situation was particularly dangerous. While it was important to respect the principle of separation of religion and State, he said secularism could lead to opposition to all public displays of religious beliefs. People, such as Muslim girls wearing head scarves in school, must not be ostracized.
Responding to questions from the representatives of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on discriminatory treatment of monitories in Japan and the country’s bias teaching of history, he said history could be taught in a self-centred way, whereby neighbouring countries were demonized. That was the case in Japan, which had led to racism and xenophobia. The history of Japan as colonizer of neighbouring countries had given the Japanese a negative image of the Chinese and Koreans, even while historically, it shared a long religious relationship with them. History must be used as a source of dialogue with neighbouring countries. His report would propose that Japan and other countries adopt national anti-racism legislation based on the Durban Declaration.
As to the query from representative of the United Kingdom on coherence and coordination on human rights protection and ending racial discrimination in Europe, he said, in reconstructing Europe’s political and economic identity, the European Union had ignored the fact that present day Europe was not the same as it was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. That was the profound cause of all conflicts in many European countries. Multiculturalism must be a priority.
The Committee then began its general debate on the elimination of racism and racial discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination.
ADAM THOMSON ( United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said international human rights standards relating to non-discrimination underpinned the fight against racism. The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination was the core legal instrument in that respect. All States should ratify it and implement its provisions as soon as possible. Terrorism was the newest and most urgent challenge. Global efforts against it must be in conformity with international human rights law and not breed new forms of discrimination. There was a risk of identifying entire groups of people with terrorists or their supporters.
He said racism revealed itself in different ways for women and girls. It was important to integrate a gender perspective into the development of all policies against racism to ensure that they effectively targeted the diverse situations of women and men. The protection of persons belonging to minority ethnic groups and indigenous people from racism was also a particular priority for the European Union. Politicians must also play their part in preventing the spread of racist ideologies. The misuse of media, including the internet, to disseminate racist messages was disturbing. All States should combat the phenomenon, while guaranteeing the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
He said the Union had made the fight against racism a key part of its external policy, but that it was not overlooking the challenges within its own borders. Anti-discrimination legislation was in place, which required establishing specialized equality bodies in each member country to assist discrimination victims. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia played an important role in gathering information and data, as well as awareness-raising. Union member nations had also established national anti-discrimination bodies and urged other States to establish similar institutions.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that the issue of racism and racial discrimination must assume a central place in any discussions about human rights. Four years after the adoption of the Durban Declaration, it was critical to closely monitor progress in implementing its decisions. At the national level, there had been national action plans, social integration, and educational and cultural programmes introduced. Governments were beginning to react more often against cybercrime and the dissemination of racist ideologies via the Internet. Efforts must continue in that area, as advances in information technology could lead to the increased dissemination of racist propaganda. It was regrettable that the fight against terrorism had created an opening for some political parties to adopt racist and xenophobic political platforms in order to win popularity. It was also unfortunate that there was an increasing frequency of racist and xenophobic incidents in sports. National sports authorities should pursue the recommendations made in the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Commission on Human Rights earlier this year.
After the General Assembly’s adoption last week of a resolution honouring Holocaust victims, that general approach should be broadened to acknowledge other instances of racist oppression that left a permanent legacy. For people of African descent, the legacy of slavery in particular was at the heart of the continued profound social and economic inequality. The fight against racism should, therefore, recognize the social and economic dimensions of past injustices and seek to redress them appropriately. The Group of 77 planned to again table a resolution on global efforts to eliminate racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, and promote the comprehensive implementation of the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
LA YIFAN ( China) said his delegation was of the view that racism was a great violation of human rights and also one of the root causes of discrimination, poverty and armed conflict. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference was a pivotal document for the international community in combating racism. At the national level, Governments should act in the spirit of the document and on the basis of national conditions, by adopting measures aimed at removing the traditional sources of racism and guarding against modern forms of racism and racial discrimination. At the international level, the United Nations should coordinate the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action, and actively support the work of the intergovernmental working group of experts on the implementation.
The right to self-determination was an important human right, he continued. It formed the foundation and premise for the realization of all other human rights and fundamental freedoms. His delegation supported the Palestinian people in their just struggle for the right to self-determination, and hoped the international community would make joint efforts for an early, fair and reasonable solution to the Palestinian issue, so as to bring lasting peace to the Middle East. Furthermore, the right to self-determination was originally advocated in the context of combating colonialism and foreign aggression, occupation and oppression. Respect for State sovereignty, territorial integrity and right to self-determination was a fundamental principle of international law. Only by comprehensively adhering to the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law could people of all countries enjoy peace, development and human rights, he added.
IMTIAZ HUSSAIN ( Pakistan) commended the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance for a very objective report, which he said sadly brought out that, despite international efforts, racism and discrimination continued in many forms and manifestations. As racism and discrimination continued to expand, his delegation was deeply concerned about the increase in discriminatory acts, especially those directed against Islam and Muslims. Such discrimination had found expression in attacks against their places of worship, racial profiling, and curtailment of civil rights in many countries, among other actions. Also, such acts had caused great harm to inter-societal peace and harmony, as well as to the global fight against terrorism.
While the world today seemed to be more aware about the grave importance of racism and discrimination, the response to eradicating the scourges had been inconsistent in societies where such manifestations had been most rampant, he said. Genocide, ethnic cleaning, and the disintegration of States were some of the extreme consequences of unfettered racism. Such situations represented the occupying powers’ extreme control over certain peoples, and had continued to inflict suffering to millions in some societies. It was unfortunate that despite provisions prohibiting racism and discrimination in international covenants, its manifestations continued, and the turmoil that existed as a result went largely unaddressed. While some States were proud of their credentials on democracy and the rule of law, their records on eliminating racism, discrimination and xenophobia were not so positive, he said.
MOHAMED ELBADEI ( Egypt) said humanity was suffering from various kinds of social ills, the most dangerous of which was oppression of one human being by another, or even the alienation of one human being on the basis of colour, race, religion or belief. Those forms of behaviour stemmed from a single, ideological way of thinking, which was counter to humanistic and religious principles. Despite clear criteria and the agreements come to by various parties to fight against racism and discrimination in all their forms, the reports of the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on the present forms of racism showed that the phenomena continued. Today, there were new movements and forms of fanaticism that called for xenophobia internationally. Another danger stemmed from the tragic event of 11 September 2001, and that was the danger of confusion between the fight against terrorism on the one hand, and the race or religion of people on the other. That confusion had led to discrimination and oppression, especially of the Arab community, and was damaging to the work and activities of Arab Muslims in their daily lives, he said.
The Special Rapporteur’s report had revealed new measures adopted by certain States in the fight against terrorism, but there had been a step backwards in the fight against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. That had led to the emergence of fresh forms of racism against whole communities and societies, and against certain religions, but some Governments had closed their eyes to that. His delegation supported the views developed in the Special Rapporteur’s report, as well as international efforts undertaken. However, the implementation of policies required collective international support to put an end to misunderstanding between religions and cultures before it became a threat to international peace and security. He proposed that States adopt plans, programmes and educational curricula to inculcate the principle of equality, as well as adopt early-warning mechanisms to determine and then counter such actions as fanatical movements. States should also adopt rules that ensured respect for other people’s rights and prevented the defamation of religions, he said.
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