Organized by the United Nations, the Durban Review Conference took place between 20 and 24 April 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland. It evaluated progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
The Review Conference served as a catalyst to fulfilling the promises of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action agreed at the 2001 World Conference through reinvigorated actions, initiatives and practical solutions.
NHRIs participation at the Durban Review Conference
NHRIs are among the expert bodies specifically called upon to help implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), agreed on at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance. NHRIs that comply with the international standards for the establishment of national institutions, the Paris Principles, are important actors in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
A Guidance Note was prepared by the National Institutions Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in July 2008 on the role of NHRIs in the Durban Review process.
On 20 April 2009, national human rights institutions from around the world met at a side event during the Durban Review Conference to consider their role in implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) to share best practices on, and key challenges to, monitoring racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Panelists at the event included the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Costa Rica National Human Rights Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Their presentations looked at issues such as the contemporary public discourse on racism; NHRI’s legal infrastructure for work on combating racism; the role of NHRIs in supporting state authorities; and NHRIs and human rights education, policy and community engagement projects in relation to racial discrimination.
NHRIs participating in the event identified priority areas where they committed to take action following the Review Conference. These priority areas include: national plans of action; encouraging ratification of the relevant international treaties on racism and their implementation through domestic legislation; monitoring racism at the local, regional and global levels and contributing information to the observatory proposed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights; establishing focal points and networks on racism; further increasing engagement with the UN human rights system; and ensuring that governments adequately resource NHRIs to carry out their functions independently and effectively, despite the current financial environment.