Controversial Durban committee meets in Geneva – Day 3

For a comprehensive summary of today’s proceedings, click here.

Today’s proceedings of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complimentary Standards centered on reviewing the final three topics remaining for discussion and determining which would be included in the substantive sessions starting Monday.

The meeting started with a disagreement over the inclusion of the topic of racism in sport. Costa Rica withdrew its proposal that the issue be discussed, but the EU requested that it be kept on the agenda but moved to a later time slot to enable a colleague to give a report on the issue. There was disagreement between the EU and the African Group as to whether this was appropriate so the issue was tabled and debate opened on the topic of “the establishment of national mechanisms to protect against discrimination.”

The EU presented the topic, as it is an EU initiative. The AG and OIC considered the word “discrimination” by itself to be too broad and requested that it be changed to “racial discrimination,” which the EU resisted, pointing out that this would ignore the issue of xenophobia. There was disagreement as well concerning what exactly substantive discussion of the issue would involve: outlining norms and standards for national human rights institutions, the identification of procedural gaps, or establishing procedures for implementation of recommendations.

Discussion then moved on to the next topic, “procedural gaps with regard to ICERD,” which had been added to the agenda the previous day at the request of the cross-regional group. Brazil elaborated that the two aspects of the issue are identifying protection gaps in ICERD and strengthening existing mechanisms, and suggested that discussion of the issue be postponed until the next session of the Ad-Hoc Committee to allow time for consultations with capitals. Algeria suggested the issue had already been satisfactorily covered in previous sessions and that it would be wasting time to discuss it further. Brazil replied that discussions of the issue in the past had been hampered by lack of trust and differing agendas between the delegations, and that further discussion could be fruitful. There was also disagreement between the delegations on the value of inviting ICERD experts to speak to the committee, and as to whether the role of the committee was to address procedural gaps or only substantive ones.

For the discussion on racism in sport, the UK began by presenting its own experience with combating racism in sport, and Brazil supported the topic. In the afternoon the Chair proposed that the topics of xenophobia, incitement to racial hatred, and national mechanisms against racism showed the most promise of achievement, and asked if those could be agreed upon as the topics of discussion for the following week. The US presented an action plan for the second topic adopted from a similar effort against religious hatred, which Algeria opposed the circulation of. The day ended with conflict between Algeria, Nigeria, and Pakistan on the one hand and the US and EU on the other over priorities and how the agreed-upon issues should be discussed, but overall there was consensus on which issues would be included in next week’s discussion.

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