Durban Ad Hoc Committee: Day 6 Afternoon

African and Arab countries continued to press for changes to international law at this afternoon’s Durban follow-up meeting, ignoring calls by Western countries to address the underlying reasons why current standards have failed to address hate crimes.

  • With regards to genocide, Canada said, “Universal implementation is necessary to make sure genocide no longer happens in the future.” Arguing against the creation of additional laws, Canada added, “strong legal norms are not able to, on their own, prevent things such as racism and genocide.”
  • South Africa contended that given “the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda, and the many crimes motivated by racism that have led to the loss of many lives, the current instrument does not provide for enough specificity.”  Algeria and Pakistan agreed, proposing there should be a universal definition of hate crimes.
  • The United States proposed that member states should report on institutions they have to implement the criminalization of hate crimes, and those who have effective programs should have a mechanism to share them.
  • Nigeria for the African Group said the issues of hate crimes “is not reflected in the current instrument.”  Denmark opposed, saying “no mentality changes will come with new legislation.” Sweden for the EU offered that human rights education as a “crucial tool in effective human rights promotion.” The European Union argued that new instruments “would not overcome challenges in fighting racism and discrimination,” and the “highest priority should be given to existing norms and standards.  Canada agreed, saying that “improving implementation is the most fundamental gap.”
  • Nigeria argued against the implementation for current norms, stating that “with our genocides, and our slavery it is against the law of humanity at any level.  If you don’t have specific proposals to achieve new standards for gaps, it will not help us.”

Reporting by Cindy Tan and Jana McNulty

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