Lichtenstein and Nigeria went head to head at this morning’s Durban Ad Hoc Committee meeting. Redrawing sharp lines between Western and African countries, the two delegates debated the implications of new provisions to the current convenant on racial discrimination. The central point of disagreement remains “whether demonstrating there were insufficient instances in the field or that there were no insufficiencies and therefore the present status quo should be maintained,” therefore casting in great doubt the purpose of the committee itself. Countries have yet to reach consensus, and several, hugely divergent proposals still remain on the table.
- On the issue of national mechanisms, Sweden for the EU reiterated its commitment to preventing racism and xenophobia. “Remedies for gross violations should include victims’ rights to equal access concerning reparations mechanisms, [especially through] the role played by the ICC,” Sweden said.
- Lichtenstein raised concerns that new laws added to the current ICERD would “weaken the existing obligation” by permitting states to “argue that [they] don’t have to ensure states’ obligations at the national level.” New laws also imply that “intolerance towards non-citizens is not covered by that convention…For [Lichtenstein] such an approach would undermine very strongly the existing legal framework.” Sweden for the EU and the United States supported this argument.
- Nigeria vociferously opposed the argument, and attributed the interpretation to “Lichtenstein must be having a dream of what he wants.” It offered the different interpretation that additional protocol would in fact “clarify and facilitate existing protocols.” This view was seconded by Algiera and Angola.
- The Chair summarized the proceedings and outlined the major dispute regarding the purpose of the Ad Hoc Committee itself. “Some members felt that the area covered should be extended to broader concerns about discrimination whilst others felt there should be a focus on the concerns about racial discrimination,” he said. “The other difference is that once a diagnosis was…some believed it was mandatory for this group to elaborate complementary standards and some felt it would have to look into the possibility of doing so. The question arose…whether demonstrating there were insufficient instances in the field or that there were no insufficiencies and therefore the present status quo should be maintained.” The committee adjourned until later this afternoon to review guidelines for future meetings.
Reporting by Cindy Tan