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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination closes one hundred and third session after adopting concluding observations on the report of Belgium and a Statement on the rise of racial discrimination against Asians and People of Asian Descent

30 April 2021

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this afternoon closed its virtual one hundred and third session after adopting its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Belgium, and a statement on the rise of racial discrimination against Asians and people of Asian descent, in particular racist hate crimes and hate speech.

Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, Committee Rapporteur, summing up the activities of the Committee during the session, said the Committee had undertaken its first online country review and thanked Belgium for agreeing to this virtual examination of their twentieth to twenty-second combined periodic report.  The concluding observations and recommendations were available here (in French only).

The Committee had also adopted a statement on the rise of racial discrimination against Asians and people of Asian descent, in particular racist hate crimes and hate speech.  The Committee was alarmed that in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Asians and people of Asian descent had been victims of stigmatisation, labelling, scapegoating and blaming for the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and had recently been subject to a wave of racist violence, threats to violence, physical harassment and bullying of children in schools.  Therefore, the Committee called on States parties, among others, to unequivocally, unconditionally and publicly reject and condemn racially motivated violence of all forms and urged them to adopt measures to prevent racial discrimination against Asians or people of Asian descent.  The full statement was available here.

The Committee had adopted a decision regarding the inter-State communication which had initially submitted by the State of Palestine against Israel on 23 April 2018, in which the applicant claimed that the respondent had violated articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Convention with regard to Palestinian citizens living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent effect on the Committee’s sessions in 2020, the matter was brought before the plenary during the current session, after an invitation had been extended to both States parties.  After careful considerations, on 30 April 2021, the Committee had decided with consensus, by the non-participation of four members, to reject the exceptions raised by the respondent concerning the admissibility of the inter-State communication.  Therefore, it requested its Chair to appoint, in accordance with article 12 (1) of the Convention, the members of an ad hoc Conciliation Commission, which shall make its good offices available to the States concerned with a view to an amicable solution of the matter on the basis of States parties’ compliance with the Convention.  All documentation regarding this case had been uploaded to the Committee’s website under “Inter-State Communications,” a section which now hosted more than 50 declassified documents related to the proceedings.

The Rapporteur said that the Committee had considered information submitted under the early warning and urgent action procedure and would send seven letters concerning situations in six countries. 

Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye added that the Committee had considered follow-up reports regarding Iceland, Jordan, Mexico, Poland, and the State of Palestine, as well as adopted a list of issues prior to reporting on Gabon, Lesotho, Maldives and Tunisia.

The Committee had also noted that while the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) came to an end, none of the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories had become independent, and Committee Members had committed to continue raising questions about the status and situations of these territories with State parties that were administering powers, when they appeared before the Committee.

Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye announced that the Committee had discussed the possibility of preparing a new General Recommendation on the right to health and racism.

In conclusion, she said the Committee had decided that its next session would take place sometime between 4-26 August 2021.  It had not yet been decided whether this session would be carried out entirely virtually or allow the organization of a hybrid meeting with some members being present in Geneva.  Whichever option would be chosen, the Committee remained concerned about the protection gap that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused.  The Committee was committed to continue carrying out online country reviews during its next session.

Yanduan Li, Committee Chairperson, in her concluding remarks, thanked all Committee members for their hard work, and thanked the secretariat, the conference services, the interpreters and all those who had made this session possible.  She then officially closed the session.

The Committee’s one hundred and third session was held remotely from 19 to 30 April. 

All public meetings of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination are webcast live at http://webtv.un.org/ while the meeting summaries in English and French can be accessed at the United Nations Office at Geneva News page.

The Committee’s one hundred and fourth session is scheduled to be held between 4-26 August 2021.


For use of the information media; not an official record