Press Releases

    Background Release

    5 March 2002


    Reports of Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark,
    Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Qatar, Switzerland to Be Examined

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 1 March (UN Information Service) -- The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimina- tion will meet at the Palais des Nations from 4 to 22 March to review anti-discrimination efforts undertaken by the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Qatar and Switzerland.

    These countries are among the 161 States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty that first took effect in 1969. 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 agreement, 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.

    At this sixtieth session of the Committee, its members will also look into the state of affairs in Botswana, Solomon Islands, Cape Verde, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Albania. Those States parties have previously submitted reports to the Committee, but their periodic reports are seriously overdue.

    The Committee will also continue its consideration of the prevention of racial discrimination, including early warning measures and urgent action procedures. Here, the Committee may decide to take steps to prevent existing problems from escalating into conflicts or may decide to initiate urgent action aimed at responding to problems requiring immediate attention to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the Convention. The Committee may schedule a review of the situation in some countries at short notice.

    In addition, the Committee will study, in closed session, communications from individuals claiming to be victims of racial discrimination. Only complaints against the 38 States parties that have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 14 of the Convention are admissible.

    Other agenda items relate to a general debate on subjects of interest to the Committee, including on issues concerning the Committee's methods of work and on the possibility of holding a thematic discussion at its sixty-first session; discussion of the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights; and review of the progress of the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. The Committee will have before it the Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and will discuss its participation and envisaged follow-up activities.

    At the beginning of the session, the nine members of the Committee elected or re-elected at the nineteenth meeting of States parties to the Convention on 17 January 2002, will make solemn declaration. The Committee will elect, by a secret ballot, from among its members a Chairman, three Vice-Chairmen and a Rapporteur. The officers of the Committee will be elected for a term of two years.

    Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports,
    Comments and Further Information Submitted by States Parties

    Monday, 4 March

    p.m. Switzerland

    Second and third periodic reports (CERD/C/351/Add.2)

    Tuesday, 5 March

    a.m. Switzerland


    p.m. Lithuania

    Initial report (CERD/C/369/Add.2)

    Wednesday, 6 March

    a.m. Lithuania


    a.m. Botswana 1

    p.m. Croatia

    Fourth and fifth periodic reports (CERD/C/373/Add.1)

    Thursday, 7 March

    a.m. Croatia


    p.m. Austria

    Thirteenth and fourteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/362/Add.7)

    Solomon Islands 1

    Friday, 8 March

    a.m. Austria


    p.m. Qatar

    Ninth to twelfth periodic reports (CERD/C/360/Add.1)

    Cape Verde 1

    Monday, 11 March

    a.m. Qatar


    p.m. Moldova

    Initial to fourth periodic reports (CERD/C/372/Add.2)

    Papua New Guinea 1

    Tuesday, 12 March

    a.m. Moldova


    p.m. Denmark

    Fifteenth periodic report (CERD/C/408/Add.1)

    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1

    Wednesday, 13 March

    a.m. Denmark


    p.m. Belgium

    Eleventh to thirteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/381/Add.1)

    Tunisia 1

    Thursday, 14 March

    a.m. Belgium


    p.m. Jamaica

    Eighth to fifteenth periodic reports (CERD/C/338/Add.1)

    Turkmenistan 1

    Friday, 15 March

    a.m. Jamaica


    p.m. Costa Rica

    Sixteenth periodic report (CERD/C/384/Add.5)

    Monday, 18 March

    a.m. Costa Rica


    p.m. Liechtenstein

    Initial report (CERD/C/394/Add.1)

    Tuesday, 19 March

    a.m. Liechtenstein


    p.m. Albania 1


    Review procedure (for States parties whose reports are seriously overdue).

    The initial report of Switzerland was considered in March 1998 and the Committee's conclusions and recommendations on it can be found in CERD/C/304/Add.44. The initial, second and third reports of Croatia were examined in August 1998 and the Committee's conclusions on them can be found in CERD/C/304/Add.55. The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports of Austria were considered in June 1993 and the Committee's recommendations on them can be found in CERD/C/304/Add.64. The eighth periodic report of Qatar was examined in August 1992 and the Committee's conclusions on it can be found in A/48/18 paras. 96-99. The fourteenth periodic report of Denmark was considered by the Committee in May 2000 and the final observations can be found in CERD/C/304/Add.93. The ninth and tenth periodic reports of Belgium were examined in April 1997 and the Committee's recommendations on them can be found in CERD/C/304/Add.26. The fifth to seventh periodic reports of Jamaica were considered by the Committee in March 1993 and the final conclusions can be found in A/40/18 paras. 589-602. And the twelfth to fifteenth periodic reports of Costa Rica were considered in April 1999 by the Committee and the official recommendations can be found in CERD/C/304/Add.71.

    Submission of Reports

    Under article 9 of the Convention, States undertake to report to the Committee on legal, judicial and other measures they have adopted to ensure effective protection against racial discrimination within their jurisdiction. States parties to the Convention agree to condemn and seek to eliminate racial discrimination in their territories; to review their policies in order to amend or nullify any regulations which create or perpetuate such discrimination, based on racial superiority or hatred; and to prohibit organizations and activities which promote or incite racial discrimination. They also agree to provide remedies for victims of racial discrimination and to adopt measures to combat prejudice and promote understanding among different national, racial and ethnic groups.

    In addition, States parties undertake to guarantee the right of everyone to equality before the law without distinction to race, colour, or national and ethnic origin.

    In the past, the Committee has called upon the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of States parties, at their annual meeting, the unfortunate consequences of delays in the submission of reports and to encourage them to consider ways and means by which all parties might be brought to fulfil their reporting obligations. The Committee has also instituted a procedure to review the implementation of the Convention in those States parties responsible for the longest delays in submitting periodic reports. In a letter addressed to the governments of those States, the Committee said that delays in the submission of reports hampered its efforts to monitor the implementation of the Convention.

    States Parties to Convention

    At present, the following 161 States are parties to the Convention: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, 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, 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, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgystan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania.

    Also, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, 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, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, 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 that regard. The following 38 States parties have already done so: Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.

    Committee Membership and Officers

    The members of the Committee, elected in their individual capacity, are: Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr (Egypt); Nourredine Amir (Algeria); Marc Bossuyt (Belgium); Ion Diaconu (Romania); Francois Lonseny Fall (Guinea); Regis de Gouttes (France); Kurt Herndl (Austria); Patricia Nozipho January-Bardill (South Africa); Morten Kjaerum (Denmark); Jose Augusto Lindgren Alves (Brazil); Raghavan Vasudevan Pillai (India); Yuri A. Rechetov (Russian Federation); Agha Shahi (Pakistan); Linos Alexander Sicilianos (Greece); Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom); Luis Valencia Rodriguez (Ecuador); Tang Chengyuan (China); and Mario Jorge Yutzis (Argentina).

    At the beginning of the session, the nine members of the Committee elected or re-elected at the nineteenth meeting of States parties to the Convention on 17 January, will make solemn declaration. The Committee will elect, by a secret ballot, from among its members a Chairman, three Vice-Chairmen and a Rapporteur. The officers of the Committee will be elected for a term of two years.

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