Press Releases

    18 January 2002


    NEW YORK, 17 January (UN Headquarters) -- The nineteenth Meeting of States Parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination this morning elected, by secret ballot, nine members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for four-year terms, to replace those whose terms of office will expire on 19 January. It also elected its chairpersons and four vice-chairpersons.

    The elected members, having received the largest number of votes and the required absolute majority (81) of the votes of States parties present and voting, were: Kurt Herndl (Austria) with 130 votes; Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom), 128 votes; Régis de Gouttes (France), 127 votes; José Augusto Lindren Alves (Brazil), 119 votes; Agha Shahi (Pakistan), 117 votes; Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr (Egypt), 113 votes; Linos Alexander Sicilianos (Greece), 119 votes; Nourredine Amir (Algeria), 107 votes; and Morten Kjaerum (Denmark), 100 votes.

    Nominees not elected were: Mohamed Cheddadi (Morocco), 93 votes; Michael E. Sherifis (Cyprus), 93 votes; Robbie Sabel (Israel), 83 votes; and Miran Komac (Slovenia), 77 votes.

    Documents CERD/SP/63 and Add.1 contain a list of candidates, including biographical data of the nominees; a list of the nine retiring members; and a list of the nine members whose terms of office expire on 19 January 2004.

    The 1996 International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination is one of the most widely ratified treaties, with 161 States parties. It defines "racial discrimination" and commits States parties to take measures to abolish it in both law and practice. The Convention established a monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, whose 18 members serve in their personal capacity. The Committee considers reports from States parties, as well as petitions from individuals alleging a violation of the Convention, if the State concerned has accepted that optional procedure of the Convention.

    Opening today's meeting, the representative of the Secretary-General, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said since the eighteenth meeting of States parties on 18 January 2000, the number of ratifications or accessions had increased from 155 to 161, with Belize, Benin, Eritrea, Ireland, Kenya and Liechtenstein having become parties to the treaty.

    The Committee had considered the reports of 43 States parties at its sessions in 2000 and 2001, he added. Ten decisions were taken by the Committee on communications examined during the last two years, and in 2000, the Committee adopted three general recommendations. It had also participated in the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, and its Preparatory Committee meetings.

    Regarding financing of the activities under the Convention, he said General Assembly resolution 47/111 of 16 December 1992 had endorsed the amendment to the Convention providing for the financing of the Committee's activities from the regular budget of the United Nations. For the amendment to enter into force, acceptance must be received from two thirds of the States parties. To date, however, only 32 States parties had ratified the amendments.

    In other matters, the current Chairman of the Committee, Michael E. Sherifis (Cyprus), addressed the meeting regarding the Committee's decision (CERD No.1 (56)), to the effect that one of its sessions should be held in New York in order "to examine with priority the reports of States parties which encounter difficulties in attending meetings of the Committee in Geneva". He said that decision aimed at assisting several small developing countries, which had missions in New York but not in Geneva, to have the possibility of a dialogue with the Committee. For that reason, the Committee had decided to hold its winter session next year in New York.

    Concerning the periodicity of reporting to the Committee by States parties, he said there were some States that were not successful in meeting their reporting obligations. He invited those States parties that encountered difficulties in reporting to avail themselves of the assistance the technical services offered by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    The Meeting elected Hubert Wurth (Luxembourg) by acclamation as its Chairman on nomination of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the chair of the eighteenth Meeting of States Parties. As vice-chairpersons, it elected, without a vote, Luis Alfonso de Alba (Mexico), Gocha Lordkipanidze (Georgia), Demetris Hadhjiargyrou (Cyprus), and Michel Kafando (Burkina Faso). They had been nominated by their respective regional groups.

    The representatives of the United States and Syria addressed the meeting on procedural matters.

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