Social inclusion

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. The Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations. New Zealand ratified the CERD on 22 November 1972. To read the full text of ICERD click here.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) oversees the implementation of the ICERD. To learn more about the CERD click here.

New Zealand is obligated to report to the CERD every 2 years (but in practice generally every 4 years as two combined periodic reports). Prior to reporting, the Committee releases a list of themes that it is particularly interested in discussing with government representatives.

New Zealand presented its most recent government report to the CERD in February 2017. The Human Rights Commission has submitted an independent report to the Committee with a five year review of race relations drawn from its most recent Race Relations Report.

Making a submission to the CERD

Accredited national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations may provide information on issues relating to the consideration of reports of States Parties, on a personal level and in informal meetings outside the Committee’s working hours, to members of the Committee wishing to attend such meetings.

NGOs submitting to CERD

The best option is to produce a supplementary report. There are two ways of approaching such a report; the first is to draw up a comprehensive report that considers each point of the state report and offers supplementary or contradicting information. Although time and resource consuming this seems to be the most effective way to provide information and has a high probability of getting the Committee’s attention. The second approach is to target specific issues of concern — such as those affecting particular groups, or specific fields such as education, employment or working conditions.

It may often be more effective to produce a supplementary report in collaboration with other NGOs. By doing so, you can avoid duplicating your work and use their knowledge, materials and resources in an effective way. Moreover, members of CERD are less likely to read all of the NGO reports if they receive too many. Such an approach can take two forms: NGOs can either produce a joint report under the name of a coalition, or they can coordinate their work for the preparation of individual reports.

International NGOs experienced in the work of CERD, such as ARIS, can also be of great help to national NGOs for such purposes as access to the UN; lobbying and identifying Committee members who might be interested in the issues of their concern; collecting documents; and, in the absence of the NGOs representatives in Geneva, handing out the supplementary report directly to members of the Committee.

How and when to hand in the report

Establish direct contact with the Country Rapporteur, who may indicate when, where and how the report should be sent. It is preferable to submit your report 2 months in advance of the relevant session. Other members of the Committee may be reticent about receiving reports directly from NGOs. There are three options to consider to ensure that your report is read:

  1. Eighteen copies, plus one extra for the Secretariat, may be sent to CERD’s Secretariat which will forward them directly to the members of CERD. Put the report in separate envelopes addressed to each member of CERD.
  2. A copy may be sent to ARIS before the session starts so that the report may be added to their list of documents. At the beginning of the Committee session, the list will be circulated among members who can order copies of the desired documents.
  3. If NGOs can attend the meeting, a copy may be handed to each member in person at the session as early as possible. Ask each member if they would like to see it but do not insist. Some experts despair at receiving supplementary reports as late as on the very day of the examination of the state report concerned.

Contact the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination: [email protected]

Contact ARIS (Anti-Racism Information Service): [email protected]

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