I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Western European and Other States Group on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Our gathering today serves as an important reminder: a reminder that more than 50 years after the adoption of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, many people still suffer from racial discrimination in their daily lives. We continue to see unacceptable violence directed at people because of their race, skin color or ethnic origin. Racial discrimination is a global scourge, and no country or region is free of it. Although we have undeniably made progress and taken many concrete steps at national and international levels, many challenges still remain.
Regarding this year’s theme, I would like to underline that the use of racial profiling on the basis of ethnic, racial or religious affiliation or on any other grounds is prohibited under several international human rights instruments. It is important for States to take active measures and enact relevant legislation prohibiting the use of such profiling. As recommended by the Special Rapporteur Mutuma Ruteere, States should provide clear instructions and practical training to law enforcement agencies and ensure effective monitoring.
In the fight against racial profiling, we can build on a comprehensive international legal framework, the heart of which is the almost universally ratified International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Convention´s treaty body – the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – plays an essential role in ensuring respect for the Convention by monitoring its implementation and by assisting States in developing policies to combat racial discrimination. It remains important that States take active measures to fully implement their obligations under the Convention. At the same time, we note other initiatives aimed at combating racism in all its forms, such as the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action of 2001. We recognize the importance of prevention and concerted action, especially in the field of education, and that a focus on practical and concrete measures can contribute to the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance associated with it.
When we fight racial discrimination, we should also work with a very active civil society network that closely monitors and alerts us whenever it detects instances of racial discrimination or hatred.
Unfortunately, the general trend we observe today is that discrimination is on the rise. We still see many forms of discrimination, for example on the basis of race, beliefs or convictions. Let us remain vigilant and act against all forms of discrimination, including against migrants and refugees as we affirmed to do in the New York Declaration.
We must speak out for diversity and pluralism if we want to ensure dignity. Human rights are universal by definition and apply to all of us equally. Inclusive societies recognize and respect diversity as a source of strength. They cherish diversity as an asset for the advancement and welfare of humanity.