Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination


GENEVA, November 2015 - 50 years ago, United Nations member states adopted the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (the Convention). To mark this anniversary, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Committee) organised on 26 November 2015 a day-long event at the UN in Geneva and invited the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) to join the celebrations together with UN experts, member states, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and civil society.

Representatives from these organisations participated in the meeting and contributed to its two-fold objective:

  • to share their experience on how the Convention has helped make a difference in combating racial discrimination, and
  • to identify current challenges as well as solutions in eradicating racism and ensuring the effective implementation of the Convention. 

Foto 8.jpg
“The time has come to say no to racial discrimination and no to racism, we cannot do this alone. We have to do this together and we have to do an extra effort”, said Ms. Patricia Nozipho January-Bardill, member of the Committee and moderator of the morning session.

ICC Geneva Representative Katharina Rose was invited to share activities and experiences of national human rights institutions in addressing racial discrimination, promoting implementation of the Convention, and engaging with the Committee.

She highlighted the important role that NHRIs play in bridging the international and national human rights systems. This “(...) central role of NHRIs has been noted by several UN bodies and mechanisms. This includes the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination which has recommended that State parties establish national human rights institutions, or strengthen existing ones, to assist in the implementation of the Convention.”

“(...) for NHRIs across all regions tackling racism and related discrimination, including multiple discrimination, and promoting cultural diversity remains a priority.” stated the ICC Geneva Representative and reaffirmed the commitment from the ICC as global alliance of NHRIs together with UN partners and the broader international community “(...) to continue to support NHRIs in their efforts to contribute to the elimination of racism and related discrimination”.

Find here: 

- the OHCHR press release,​

- the UN video to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ICERD, and 

- the webcast of the event

Find the full ICC statement here

​Photo: Luis Jorge Gallegos Gallegos, CNDH Mexico 

ICERD Stories of National Human Rights Institutions

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the ICC invited national human rights institutions from across all regions to share stories about the importance of the Convention to their work, including experiences and lessons in promoting the Convention's ratification and implementation by states:

Mexican National Human Rights Commission

Foto 14.jpg

In the framework of the 50th anniversary of the Convention and the launch of the International Decade of African Descent 2015-2024, the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico organised in July 2015 the International Forum "Racial Discrimination and Afro-descendants in Mexico”.

The overall objective was to analyse the international and national context to prevent racial discrimination and raise awareness about Afro self-identification as a distinct group and ensure visibility of this group in statistics that make effective the exercise of their human rights. As a result a work plan was consolidated.

The NHRI of Mexico worked this year with the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) to include for the first time in the Annual census survey a question on the Afro-Mexican population. The results will be used to generate public policies that take into account the afro-descendant population.

Find here the full ICERD story of the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico.

​Photo: Luis Jorge Gallegos Gallegos, CNDH Mexico​

Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities of Belgium

Although the Convention was adopted in a specific historical context and contains articles that are labelled in rather broad terms, the Convention continues to be a text of reference. The Centre:

  • Welcomed that the Committee via general recommendations, thematic discussions, concluding observations and complaints (inter-state and individual) has provided an evolving interpretation of the Convention. The Committee is able to tackle today’s questions, which provides NHRI with an updated interpretation of ICERD; and
  • Highlighted that the Outcome Documents of the Durban and Durban Review Conferences, together with the Convention, are also of primary importance, as they provide with concrete indications of measures that could be adopted by the State to prevent racism and promote tolerance.

The establishment of the Centre itself shows how the Convention and the Durban Conferences brought a concrete commitment from the Belgian authorities in light of article 14 of the Convention and the Outcome documents of the Conferences (State Report Belgium § 342 ).