13 January 2006

Meeting of States Parties to Convention on Racial Discrimination Elects Nine Members of Monitoring Committee

NEW YORK, 12 January (UN Headquarters) -- The twenty-first meeting of States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination today elected nine members of the Convention's monitoring body in two rounds of secret balloting.

Having received the required majority of 85 votes, elected to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in the first round of voting were: José Augusto Lindgren Alves of Brazil (150 votes); Linos-Alexander Sicilianos of Greece (145 votes); Nourredine Amir of Algeria (134 votes); Morten Kjaerum of Denmark (133 votes); Mohmoud Aboul-Nasr of Egypt (132 votes); Agha Shahi of Pakistan (132 votes); Régis de Gouttes of France (126 votes); and Patrick Thornberry of the United Kingdom (114 votes).  With the required majority of 84 in the second round, the meeting elected Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana (Dieudonnè) Ewomsan of Togo, who received 86 votes.  The new members of the Committee were elected from a list of 13 candidates for a four-year term of office that will last from 20 January 2006 to 19 January 2010.

The International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted on 21 December 1965 and entered into force on 4 January 1969. The Convention's 18-member monitoring body considers reports from States parties and -- if the State concerned has accepted the Convention's optional procedure -- considers petitions from individuals or groups alleging a violation of the Convention.

At the outset of the meeting, the Secretary-General's representative, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, informed the delegates that, since their previous meeting in January 2004, the number of States parties to the Convention had increased from 169 to 170, with the ratification by Comoros. "Although this is a matter for satisfaction and reflects the international community's continuing interest in advancing the goals and objectives of the Convention, there is still some way to go toward the goal of universal ratification," he said.

He also recalled that, since its establishment in 1969, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had held 67 sessions. During its 2004 and 2005 sessions, it had considered 33 reports and adopted conclusions and recommendations aimed at effective implementation of the Convention at the national level. The Committee had also reviewed the situation in five States parties whose reports were seriously overdue. Such practice was undertaken to assess the situation regarding the implementation of the Convention and to re-establish a dialogue with the States parties concerned. During the past two years, the Committee had also continued to carry out its functions under article 14 of the Convention, issuing four opinions and decisions in connection with communications received from individuals or groups alleging a violation of their rights under the Convention. Considerable attention had also been devoted to the review of the Committee's working methods.

In 2004 and 2005, the Committee had adopted two general recommendations with a view to guiding the States parties in the implementation of the Convention at the national level, he continued. One of those recommendations concerned discrimination against non-citizens and the other related to the prevention of racial discrimination in the functioning and administration of the criminal justice system. The adoption of the former was preceded by a thematic discussion on racial discrimination against non-citizens in March 2004. A thematic discussion in February-March 2005 focused on the prevention of genocide. The Committee then adopted a declaration on the prevention of genocide and -- at its following session -- a decision, in which it identified indicators of patterns of systematic and massive racial discrimination.

Turning to the areas where improvements could be made, he mentioned the fact that at present, only forty-six States parties permitted individual communications to be considered by the Committee, and thus, the article 14 communications procedure was underutilized.  He also referred to the financing of the activities under the Convention. The General Assembly, in its resolution 47/111, had endorsed the amendment to article 8 of the Convention providing for the financing of the Committee's activities from the regular budget of the United Nations, but for that amendment to enter into force, acceptance must be received from two thirds of the States parties. To date however, only 41 States parties had ratified the amendments, despite the Assembly's repeated calls. 

Also this morning, the meeting elected Paulette Bethel (the Bahamas) as its Chairperson, by acclamation. Paul Badji (Senegal), Muhammad Anshur (Indonesia) and Marija Antonijevic (Serbia and Montenegro) were elected as the meeting's Vice-Chairpersons.

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