Heated debate continued at the Durban follow-up meeting on racism and discrimination when Nigeria and Pakistan sought to limit dicussions on homophobia and other forms of racial discrimination. At issue was the request made by Germany yesterday to clarify that opinions raised by certain countries do not reflect the view of the entire committee. This point was raised out of concern that changes in procedure could be used to force out consideration of certain rights, such as freedom of expression and protection against homophobia.
Germany’s request was granted in the form of a footnote added to the program of work. It read, “the adoption of the Programme of Work does not imply…endorsement of the…issues,” thus guaranteeing that contentious issues remained open to future discussion. Divergent visions of how the committee should proceed led to an early adjournment to later this afternoon.
- A new version for the program of work was circulated, and included a footnote stating that adoption of the program of work did not infer endorsement of its items. This followed a request made by Germany yesterday when it expressed concerns that certain forms of discrimination, specifically homophobia, may become excised from the agenda.
- Colombia for GRULAC expressed its great dissatisfaction with the revised program of work “that in a form that is contrary to the universality of human rights there are issues that are taboo and cannot be dealt with in the meeting rooms of Geneva, specifically multiple forms of discrimination. Our intention was that we could keep in the program of work as it was in the prior version and regret to see that this has changed.”
- Nigeria for the African Group took issue with Colombia’s leadership of GRULAC, suggesting that Cuba’s viewpoints may not have been adequately reflected with regards to the issue of sexual orientation. It also opposed the footnote, calling it “product of remarkable creative minds creating things that are not there.” Pakistan voiced equal opposition to the footnote.
- Morocco proposed an item to address “protection of refugees from racist discriminatory practices.” No one contested consideration of this issue as an item, though Lichtenstein requested that it be incorporated into the agenda item on IDPs.
- At Sweden‘s request, the committee meeting was suspended until 3pm for regional consultations to discuss the requested additions and deletions before adopting the program of work.
Reporting by Cindy Tan