Controversial Durban committee meets in Geneva – Day 2

For a comprehensive summaries of today’s proceedings, Click here.
Today’s proceedings of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complimentary Standards centered on narrowing the 6 topics identified as possible areas of focus for substantive discussion next week down to 2 or 3.  Of the 6 topics proposed (xenophobia, incitement to racial hatred, racist acts committed through communication technologies, racial profiling, racism and sport, and the establishment of national mechanisms to protect against discrimination), Argentina for the cross-regional group said they are willing to discuss xenophobia and profiling. They also proposed the additional topic of “procedural gaps to the implementation of the ICERD” focused on follow-up issues. The African Group (AG) and OIC said they needed more time to study this proposal. Brazil stressed that this point is very important for the cross-regional group. The EU opted for the discussion of topic 6 and suggested that they identify gaps first before going on to develop standards, while Nigeria for AG and Pakistan for OIC expressed their preference for the first 4 topics. The meeting then proceeded to  discussion of the merits of the first four topics.

Topic 1: Xenophobia
The Chair said that they needed to develop a definition of xenophobia and its relations to racism. There is incomplete treatment in existing international instruments. Brazil said that the Committee needs to identify protection  gaps for xenophobia. Liechtenstein and the EU argued that the notion of xenophobia has been developed by CERD in its general comments and recommendations.

Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria supported discussion of this issue and argued that the mandate of the committee includes discussion of new norms, not just gaps. Algeria also said that countries signed the ICERD, not all the work by the experts. USA said that the ICERD is a wider document and does not only include racism but also xenophobia. Brazil for the cross-regional group agreed with the topic to be discussed and asked for the contribution of experts.

Topic 2: Advocacy and incitement to racial, ethnic, national and religious hatred
The US asked to change the title of the topic to the one of the resolution adopted by consensus at the previous HRC session. They are not comfortable with the notion of incitement. Nigeria and Egypt did not accept the US position, to which the US responded that they were not comfortable discussing this topic as stated, and urged the Committee to focus on finding areas of agreement that would lead to concrete progress instead of wasting time on rehashing old and insurmountable differences in opinion that will lead nowhere.

Topic 3: Racial and xenophobic acts committed through information and communication technologies
Liechtenstein indicated that the Council of Europe protocol on cyber hate did not enjoy broad consensus, which is why it is a separate protocol from the convention, which few countries have signed onto. The  US agreed with this analysis. Nigeria for the AG and Pakistan for the OIC said that it was time for the UN to adopt a similar convention. Japan for the cross-regional group said they were not comfortable with this proposal, which required a lot of technical expertise.

Topic 4: Racial, ethnic, and religious profiling
Nigeria for the AG said that profiling is an important issue as it is “rampant.” When asked by the EU to offer examples, they referred to the reports by the Special Rapporteur on racism and their own experiences when traveling.

Discussion will continue on Thursday with further discussion on the topics.

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