International Action against Racial Discrimination

International Action against Racial Discrimination

International Action against Racial Discrimination

International Action against Racial Discrimination

Synopsis

An introduction to the international law of racial discrimination, this book is the first to provide an inside account of how a United Nations human rights treaty body actually works. At the same time, it is an introduction to the international law of racial discrimination. The book focuses on the practical operation and implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, emphasizing throughout the relationship between law and politics.

Excerpt

Representatives of the world's many nations assemble under United Nations auspices in New York and Geneva. They are more accustomed to disagreeing than to agreeing with one another. So it was remarkable that in 1965 they should have decided unanimously to adopt the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and that within twenty-five years three-quarters of the world's states should have declared themselves willing to be bound by it.

The Convention takes the form of a treaty between states. On accession, a state assumes a variety of obligations, one of which is to report every two years on what it has been doing to implement the Convention's provisions. State reports are laid before a committee of eighteen individuals whom the states themselves elect. This is the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, often referred to as cerd (in distinction from ICERD). States which are parties to the Convention should know whether other states are keeping to their side of the contract, so cerd can be seen as the agent of the body of states parties in monitoring implementation by individual states. Those who drafted the Convention decided that cerd should report on its examination of state reports to the General Assembly rather than to the states parties. They saw the Convention as an expression of the UN's desire to increase respect for human rights. Nevertheless, the states parties have responsibilities distinct from those of the General Assembly.

Studying in retrospect how the Convention attracted so much support, it becomes apparent that certain of the assumptions about the nature and causes of racial discrimination current in the un in the early 1960s were influenced by the political circumstances of the period. Most of the state representatives thought that racial discrimination was characteristic of states other than their own. Governments acceded to the Convention for reasons of foreign, not domestic, policy; many nominated diplomats, as their specialists in foreign affairs, for election to cerd. Most of those elected were inclined to construe the Committee's mandate very strictly, which . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.