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UN Committee reviews anti-discrimination efforts underway



Protesters demonstrate against police brutality and racial injustice in Brooklyn, New York.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination opened in Geneva on Monday to review anti-discrimination efforts being done in seven UN Member States.

During this session it will be reviewing the work underway in Azerbaijan, Benin, Nicaragua, Slovakia, Suriname, United States and Zimbabwe.

Wan-Hea Lee, who heads the UN human rights office’s Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Human Rights Treaties Branch, congratulated the Committee on its work fighting racial discrimination. 

Agreement appreciated

The UN official also commended the Committee for its flexibility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

She credited an agreement that established a predictable schedule of country reviews with bolstering the Committee’s resilience and expanding upon its initiatives, including a simplified procedure to address chronic under-reporting and long delays in submitting reports.

Despite notable improvements, Ms. Lee said that the COVID-19 pandemic remains prevalent and continues to deal economic, social, and cultural progress blows.


The Treaties chief described education as a fitting example of the impact that the pandemic has had on advancing human rights.

Specifically, she pointed to the challenges it has created for vulnerable learners and observed that ingrained disparities within global education systems had come to the fore. 


Ms. Lee also flagged that migrants at international borders remain an important concern across the globe.

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She referenced a recent report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, who raised concerns over rights implications on measures being followed by some States.

To control borders and govern immigration, they are pushing back by restricting asylum procedures and criminalizing of irregular immigration.

Inequities of African children

Meanwhile, during its last session, the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent extensively explored the human rights situation of children of African descent.

From the administration of justice to education and health to family life as well as redress for legacies of enslavement, colonialism, and racial segregation, they investigated the racial discrimination and inequalities faced by children of African descent in all areas of life.

The Committee will next meet tomorrow to consider Benin’s periodic reports.


Summaries of the Committee’s public meetings can be found here, while their webcasts can be located here.

Click here for the Committee’s programme of work of and other documents related to the session.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

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