Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

By Patrick Thornberry | Go to book overview

8

Racial discrimination and indigenous
peoples - in particular under the
Racial Discrimination Convention

Introduction

The major instrument of the UN devoted to the issue of race discrimination is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICEARD). The Convention - preceded by a Declaration on the same subject 1 - was adopted by the GA on 21 December 1965 by 106 votes to 0, 2 and entered into force on 4 January 1969. 3 By December 2001, the Convention had 161 States' parties. The text incorporates a preamble of twelve paragraphs, seven substantive articles (Part I of the Convention), a further nine articles addressing implementation (Part II) and nine articles on entry into force, denunciation, revision, reservations, etc. (Part III). 4

____________________
1
Contained in General Assembly resolution 1904(XVIII), 20 November 1963. For a review, see Thornberry, International Law, chs. 29 and 30.
2
General Assembly resolution 2106(XX).
3
660 UNTS, 195. The implementation of the Convention is complemented by the work of the Special Rapporteur (of the Commission on Human Rights) on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; at the time of writing, the latest report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr M. Glélé- Ahanhanzo, is contained in E/CN.4/2001/21, 6 February 2001. The Work of the Special Rapporteur overlaps with that of CERD in view of the fact that the Rapporteur deals with States' parties to the Convention, as well as those which are not.
4
Article 20 on reservations contains an unusual provision setting out the rule that a reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention shall not be permitted, `nor shall a reservation the effect of which would inhibit the operation of any of the bodies established by the Convention would be allowed'. The paragraph (20.2) goes on to say that a reservation `shall be considered incompatible or inhibitive if at least two thirds of the States' parties to this Convention object to it'. This would not be taken to diminish the role of the Committee in making assessments of compatibility in the absence of such a majority of the States' parties; clearly, the Committee's scope for action must be wider, not least in view of its general duty to monitor the implementation of the Convention. Attention in this respect centres particularly on the wide-ranging reservation attached to the ratification by the USA

-199-

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