International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination

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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 equality among all individuals, regardless of their race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 21, 1965, and entered into force on January 4, 1969.

ICERD is considered one of the core international human rights treaties and is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a body of independent experts. The convention recognizes that racial discrimination is a violation of basic human rights and poses a threat to peace, security, and harmony among nations.

The key provisions of ICERD include:

  1. Definition of racial discrimination: The convention defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin that aims to nullify or impair the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  2. State obligations: States parties to the convention are required to condemn racial discrimination and take effective measures to eliminate it in all its forms, including legislation and other appropriate means. They must also promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among different racial or ethnic groups.
  3. Equality before the law: States parties must guarantee the right to equality before the law and provide effective protection against any racial discrimination.
  4. Prohibition of hate speech and incitement to racial hatred: The convention prohibits the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, as well as any incitement to racial discrimination or violence.
  5. Access to justice: States parties are required to ensure that individuals who are victims of racial discrimination have access to effective judicial and administrative remedies.
  6. Reporting and monitoring: States parties are obliged to submit periodic reports to the CERD, providing information on the legislative, judicial, administrative, and other measures they have taken to implement the provisions of the convention.

ICERD has played a significant role in promoting equal treatment and combating racial discrimination worldwide. It has influenced national legislation and policies, raised awareness about racial discrimination, and provided a framework for monitoring and accountability. However, challenges and instances of racial discrimination persist in many parts of the world, and ongoing efforts are needed to fully implement the convention’s principles.

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