The Ad Hoc Committee of the UN Human Rights Council on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards — a follow-up group to the 2001 Durban conference against racism — continued its work Wednesday and considered recommendations by a group of five human rights experts. (To read about previous Ad Hoc Committee meetings, click here). The report by the group of experts included recommendations regarding additional conventions, optional protocols and other mechanisms to combat racism.
Egypt found the report “unacceptable,” particularly a section on recommendations to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to combat the nexus of racism and religion, since such recommendations omitted “issues related to defamation of religion.”
Supporting Egypt, committee chair Idriss Jazairy of Algeria likened 20th century Nazism and anti-Semitism to the current wave of Islamophobia. “When I was a young boy in France during World War II,” said Ambassador Jazairy, “I could see the ways Jews were mistreated. [This mistreatment was] not because of the articles of their faith, but because of what they (Jews) were. Muslims are facing acute challenges in this century, like the Jews were exposed to difficult challenges in the last century…We should keep in mind the experience of the 20th century as we try to address the challenges of the 21st century.”
The committee also considered the issue of complementary standards related to racism faced by people “under foreign occupation.” While the report by the group experts concluded that no new mechanisms are necessary, Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt made lengthy interventions on the evils of occupation and the need for a new convention or optional protocol on the matter. Syria argued that such standards are needed as “certain countries force women to give birth at checkpoints” and “raze kindergartens,” while Pakistan and Egypt stated that “foreign occupation is the worst form of human rights abuse.”
Chairman Jazairy said that “if discrimination against some Semites is racism, then such discrimination against a larger group of Semites should also be discrimination.”