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Race, Racism and the Law 
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Programme of Action - Legal Measures

NGO Forum, World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa, August 27-Sept 1, 2001

This page is part of much larger document. Please be sure to read the Overview, the Declaration-Guiding Principles, Programme of Action-Guiding Principles, and Programme of Action - Legal Measures which provide the context for understanding this page. Click here to Download Word Document.




We the NGO Forum : 

200. Recognizing that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance constitute gross violations of human rights which threaten and undermine democratic societies and the Rule of Law and that institutional and structural racism manifests itself directly and indirectly in the laws, policies and practices of governments, institutions, public service sector and multinationals, declare that these violations must be addressed by appropriate legal measures, policies and practices

201. Recognizing that Global economic institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organizations are dominated by the G7 countries and that they perpetuate economic and social injustices in the developing nations, call upon the United Nations to urgently review and address the structural imbalances and inequalities in such institutions, in order to ensure equal access of opportunity and equality between developed and developing nations. All States and governments and the United Nation should ensure that these institutions meet all human rights standards and universal values.

202. Recognizing that multinationals operate in a Global environment without effective laws, policies and practices to regulate them. Multinationals are often guilty of committing gross human rights violations in developing countries and that this perpetuates economic, political and social injustice thus causing further instability. We call upon the UN to appoint a special Rapporteur whose mandate should be to investigate and to report on the role of multinationals in the commission of gross human rights violations and such practices that perpetuate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all countries. The Report should make specific recommendations relating to the establishment of a Special Covenant to govern the conduct of multinationals globally

203. Recognizing that the structure of the Security Council perpetuates economic and social injustice and racism, call upon the United Nations to restructure the Security Council to address the imbalance in voting powers that has resulted in the perpetuation of racism for decades. Such restructuring should address the issue of permanent and non-permanent membership so as to ensure equity in the decision making process.

204. Recognizing the concerns of marginalized groups and persons within the global community of the role and accountability of the Judiciary about the application and interpretation of laws the impact of which perpetuates racism. We call upon the Commission on Human rights to expand the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to deal with questions of accountability of the Judiciary and make recommendations in respect thereof. The mandate of the Rapporteur should also include recommendations on the training of Judges particularly in the areas of human rights and humanitarian law and contemporary forms of racism within the system. The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism should have his mandate extended similarly.

205. Recognizing that the efforts of the UN High Commissioner to effect positive changes in Humanitarian law are severely hampered by the paucity of the budget allocated to such office, call upon the UN to provide that office with a regular and proper budget to ensure its effective functioning of that office.

206. Recognizing that globalization reinforces the exploitation and exclusion of developing countries from the full benefit of economic and political and social development call upon Governments to cancel the debts of developing countries.

207. Recognizing that whilst States are signatories to International and regional Instruments, yet seldom comply with their obligations in terms thereof, thus perpetuating a culture of impunity. We therefore call upon all States to ratify without reservation, and implement all international and regionalinstruments. In particular:-

· The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD);

· The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPR);

· The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);

· The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and its additional Protocol;

· The Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (MWC);

· The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC);

· The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention Against Torture);

· The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); and

· The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.

· The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights

· The African Charter on the Welfare and Rights of the Child

· The OAU Convention on Specific Aspects on Refugees in Africa

· Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

· European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms including Protocol 12 to this convention

· European Convention on Regional and Minority Languages

· European Framework Convention on Ethnic Minorities

· European Social Charter and Optional Protocol allowing for submission of collective complaints

· The American Convention on Human Rights

· The American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man

· The First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, allowing for the submission of individual and group complaints

· All ILO Conventions as well as UNESCO instruments

· The UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and Supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children

· 1949 Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution

· Stockholm Agenda for Action Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Children

The following measures should be addressed:

208. Urge States to adopt the draft Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights providing for a system of individual and collective complaints.

209. Recognizing the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work which holds governments responsible for respecting and promoting a set of fundamental rights for workers, including freedom of association, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of child labour, and the prohibition against discrimination in employment, as well as ILO Convention169 on Indigenous Peoples and Conventions 97 and 143 on Migrant Workers.

210. Recognizing the value and importance of the binding general comments issued by ICERD, we call upon States to:

211. Implement Art. 6 of ICERD which assures effective protection and remedies to victims of racism and racial discrimination and accept the right to just and fair compensatory measures for victims of racism and racial discrimination.

212. Implement Art. 7 of ICERD, which targets education as an essential, mean for combating racism.

213. Lift any reservations to ICERD, and declare under Article 14 of the Convention that it recognizes the competence of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to accept the filing of individual complaints to the Committee.

214. Support the UN in strengthening the role of CERD to allow for enforceable sanctions in cases where CERD's Concluding Observations on the monitoring of States are not complied with by governments within a reasonable period of time.

215. Request that State reports to CERD should include race and sex disaggregated data on the impact and effect of the adopted legislation.

216. Develop in accordance with Article 71 of Part 2 of The Vienna Declaration a Program of Action that requires "each State to consider the desirability of drawing up a national action plan identifying steps whereby the State would improve the protection and promotion of human rights", which include plans of action aimed at fighting racism, institutional or otherwise, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and promote partnership relations with civil society mainly through specialized independent national institutions on human rights and equality.

217. Create effective National institutions on human rights and equality. These institutions should be independent and have the power to monitor the implementation of anti-discriminatory legislation, to provide assistance and legal aid to victims and their families, to have recourse to judicial authorities, and to have investigative, enforcement and policy making powers. These institutions should reflect in their composition, the diversity of the society at large. They should be funded adequately and should function without interference from the State and with all the guarantees necessary for their independence and impartiality

218. Fully comply with international humanitarian law obligations and respect non-discrimination provisions binding on all parties to an armed conflict and ensure that the United Nations Special Rapporteurs are always granted admission to all territories of armed conflict...

219. Adopt and implement comprehensive legislation expressly prohibiting discrimination in all spheres of life, including but not limited to education, housing, employment, health care, social services, access to citizenship, access to public places and all other goods and services available to the public. Such legislation should integrate a full gender dimension, taking into consideration the intersectional discrimination faced by marginalized communities and vulnerable groups. The implementation of such legislation should be periodically reviewed.

220. Mainstream the issue of combating racism into all national policies and practices, including all spheres of public life. Mainstreaming should include the application of equality proofing, guidelines, positive actions, data production, proactive monitoring and impact assessment. All groups experiencing racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances should be encouraged to participate in such activities.

221. Identify and combat institutionalized racism in every sphere in which it appears and systematically combat racist and xenophobic attitudes within governmental institutions and the public sector and to review all existing legislation, administrative procedures and rules, including those on citizenship, nationality and immigration to ensure that no provisions are discriminatory.

222. Civil society should be involved in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all policies and programmes to combat and prevent racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

223. Ensure that, in accordance with International Human rights standards, all groups and persons whose rights have been violated have access to reparation.

224. Ensure the protection of persons or organizations that lay complaints and report incidents of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

225. Establish programs of affirmative action to include persons affected by racism, racial and gender discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the recruitment, hiring, training, retention and promotion within the criminal justice system, particularly those impacted by the intersectionality of these grounds.

226. Urge States to adopt policies to ensure that public funds are provided only to organizations that have non-discrimination policies.

227. Urge States to recognize the need for uniform measures and the collection of disaggregated data on racial and gender disparities in the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, the complexities in establishing such uniform standards, the need to work with NGOs in developing such measures and collecting such data, and to commit to the public disclosure and dissemination of that data.

228. Urge States to acknowledge the need for technical and financial support to develop and implement uniform measures and the collection of disaggregated data on racial disparities and commit to the establishment of an international trust to provide for such assistance.

229. Call upon the UN to organize a follow-up conference in 2005 in order to evaluate the progress made by States, governments and civil society in the fight against racism and to put in place mechanisms to monitor implementation at an international level of all regional and national action plans.

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