International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations treaty that aims to combat racial discrimination and promote racial equality. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1965, ICERD is considered one of the core international human rights instruments.

Definition of racial discrimination: ICERD defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.

State obligations: The Convention places obligations on states parties to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among different racial and ethnic groups. States are required to adopt legislative, administrative, and other measures to ensure equality before the law, access to justice, and equal enjoyment of rights for all individuals, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Prohibition of racial segregation and apartheid: ICERD explicitly prohibits racial segregation and apartheid, condemning any policies or practices that aim to establish or maintain racial superiority or domination by one racial group over another.

Equality in the fields of rights and freedoms: ICERD covers a wide range of rights and freedoms, including civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It emphasises the principle of non-discrimination and equality in areas such as education, employment, housing, health, participation in public life, and access to public services.

State reporting and monitoring: States parties to ICERD are required to submit periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of independent experts. The Committee reviews these reports, engages in a dialogue with the state, and provides recommendations for further actions to eliminate racial discrimination. The Committee also issues general recommendations on specific aspects of racial discrimination to guide states in their implementation of ICERD.

Individual complaints: ICERD provides for an individual complaints procedure. Individuals or groups who believe their rights under the Convention have been violated can submit complaints to the Committee, after exhausting all available domestic remedies. The Committee may consider these complaints and issue recommendations to address the violations.

ICERD has been ratified by a significant number of countries, reflecting the global commitment to combating racial discrimination and promoting racial equality. The Convention has played a significant role in shaping national legislation, policies, and practices, as well as raising awareness about the importance of combating racism and ensuring equal rights for all individuals, regardless of their race or ethnicity. ICERD reaffirms the principle that racial discrimination is incompatible with the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and it provides a framework for states to work towards the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of racial equality.
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