Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination to hold seventy-sixth session in Geneva from 15 February to 12 March 2010

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold its seventy-sixth session at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 15 February to 12 March 2010 to review anti-discrimination efforts undertaken by the Governments of Argentina, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Monaco, the Netherlands, Panama and Slovakia.

These countries are among the 173 States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. The 18-member Committee, the first body created by the United Nations to review actions by States to fulfil obligations under a specific human rights treaty, examines reports submitted periodically by States parties on efforts to comply with the Convention. Government representatives generally present the report, discuss its contents with Committee members, and answer questions. In addition, the Committee will consider a number of situations under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure, aimed at responding to problems requiring immediate attention to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the Convention.

During the course of the four-week session, the Committee will consider individual communications of violations of the Convention which are submitted to it under Article 14 of the Convention (in closed session), and consider follow-up information submitted by States parties in relation to the observations and recommendations of the Committee. The Committee will also discuss follow-up activities to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and to the Durban Review Conference. In accordance with a decision taken at its seventy-third session, the Committee will also consider matters related to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council.

At its first meeting, the Committee will hear an opening statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights or her representative, adopt its agenda for the session, hear a solemn declaration by the nine members of the Committee that were elected or re-elected at the twenty-third Meeting of States parties to the Convention, held on 21 January 2010, and elect its bureau from among its members. The Committee will also hold a dialogue with United Nations specialized agencies and other competent bodies during that first meeting.

Background on Reports to Be Considered at This Session

The Committee has previously reviewed all the States parties whose reports are being examined at the present session, except Monaco which will present its combined initial to sixth periodic report (CERD/C/MCO/6) to the Committee.

The Committee considered the combined sixteenth to eighteenth periodic report of Argentina on 10 and 11 August 2004, and its concluding observations on the report can be found in document CERD/C/65/CO/1. It examined the second to seventh periodic report of the Kingdom of Cambodia on 16 and 17 March 1998, and published its concluding observations in document CERD/C/304/Add.54. In March 1998 the Committee reviewed the combined tenth to fourteenth report of Cameroon, and published its concluding observations on it in document CERD/C/304/Add.53. It considered the combined eight to eleventh periodic report of Guatemala on 24 and 27 February 2006, and issued concluding observations in document CERD/C/GTM/CO/11. On 10 and 11 August 2005, the Committee took up the combined seventeenth and eighteenth periodic report of Iceland, and published concluding observations on those reports in document CERD/C/ISL/CO/18. It examined the combined initial and second periodic report of Japan, on 8 and 9 March 2001, and made public its concluding observations in document CERD/C/304/Add.114. The Committee considered the initial to third periodic report of Kazakhstan on 13 and 16 August 2004, and concluding observations on those reports can be found in document CERD/C/65/CO/3. At its sixty-fourth session in February and March 2004, it reviewed the combined fifteenth and sixteenth periodic report of the Netherlands, and published concluding observations in document CERD/C/64/CO/7. On 19 March 1997, a review was undertaken of the combined tenth to fourteenth periodic report of Panama and the Committee issued concluding observations on those reports in document CERD/C/304/Add.32. And on 9 and 10 August 2004, the Committee considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of the Slovak Republic, and concluding observations on that review can be found in document CERD/C/65/CO/7.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Adopted in 1965 by the General Assembly, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination entered into force 4 January 1969. The Convention defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Under the Convention, States parties commit themselves to condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races. To that end, each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation; not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations; to take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists; to prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization; to encourage, where appropriate, integrationist multiracial organizations and movements and other means of eliminating barriers between races, and to discourage anything which tends to strengthen racial division.

In accordance with article 4, States parties also undertake to condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.

States parties, by virtue of article 9, undertake to submit a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted and which give effect to the provisions of this Convention. To ensure the implementation and the respect of their obligations under the Convention by States parties, the Convention establishes the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to examine the reports presented by States parties.

In addition, as provided in article 14, a State Party may at any time declare that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals within its jurisdiction claiming to be victims of a violation by that State Party of any of the rights set forth in this Convention. No communication shall be received by the Committee if it concerns a State party that has not made such a declaration. To date 53 States parties have made a declaration under this article.

States Parties to the Convention

At present, the following 173 States are parties to the Convention: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Communications Under Article 14

Under article 14 of the Convention, the Committee considers communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation by States parties of any of the rights set forth in the Convention, provided the States concerned have recognized the competence of the Committee in this regard. The following 53 States parties have already done so: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Committee Membership

The members of the Committee, elected in their individual capacity, are: Nourredine Amir (Algeria); Alexei Avtonomov (Russian Federation); Jose Francisco Cali Tzay (Guatemala); Anastasia Crickley (Ireland); Fatima-Binta Victoire Dah (Burkina Faso); Régis de Gouttes (France); Ion Diaconu (Romania); Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana (Dieudonné) Ewomsan (Togo); Huang Yong'an (China); Anwar Kemal (Pakistan); Dilip Lahiri (India); Gün Kut (Turkey); José Augusto Lindgren Alves (Brazil); Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez (Colombia); Chris Maina Peter (Tanzania); Pierre-Richard Prosper (United States); Walilakoye Saidou (Niger); and Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom).

Timetable for Opening Meeting and Consideration of State Party Reports

Monday, 15 February

a.m. Opening of Session; Adoption of agenda; Election of officers; Dialogue with United Nations agencies and entities

p.m. Monaco: combined initial to sixth periodic reports (CERD/C/MCO/6)

Tuesday, 16 February

a.m. Monaco (continued)

p.m. Slovakia: combined sixth to eight periodic reports (CERD/C/SVK/6-8)

Wednesday, 17 February

a.m. Slovakia (continued)

p.m. Argentina: combined nineteenth and twentieth periodic reports (CERD/C/ARG/19-20)

Thursday, 18 February

a.m. Argentina (continued)

p.m. Cambodia: combined eight to thirteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/KHM/8-13)

Friday, 19 February

a.m. Cambodia (continued)

p.m. Guatemala: combined twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/GTM/12-13)

Monday, 22 February

a.m. Guatemala (continued)

p.m. Cameroon: combined fifteenth to eighteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/CMR/15-18)

Tuesday, 23 February

a.m. Cameroon (continued)

p.m. Netherlands: combined seventeenth and eighteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/NLD/18)

Wednesday, 24 February

a.m. Netherlands (continued)

p.m. Japan: combined third to sixth periodic reports (CERD/C/JPN/3-6)

Thursday, 25 February

a.m. Japan (continued)

p.m. Iceland: combined nineteenth and twentieth periodic reports (CERD/C/ISL/20)

Friday, 26 February

a.m. Iceland (continued)

p.m. Kazakhstan: combined fourth to fifth periodic reports (CERD/C/KAZ/4-5)

Monday, 1 March

a.m. Kazakhstan (continued)

p.m. Panama: combined fifteenth to twentieth periodic reports (CERD/C/PAN/15-20)

Tuesday, 2 March

a.m. Panama (continued)

Friday, 12 March

p.m. Closing session; Adoption of concluding observations

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For use of information media; not an official record