48th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Racism


All sources used to draft the reports on the 34th meeting can be found here Reports drafted by Amine Meharzi on October 4th, 2021.

Composition of the HRC

Madam President Nazhat Shameem opened the interactive dialogue on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the 4th of October by 10:00

Ms. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance divided her speech in two parts

1)Presentation on Race, Tech, and Borders:

First, she reminded her last year's prediction that emerging digital technologies might create burdens on the refugees, asylum-seekers, migrants and sans-papiers. This year scholars established the term "digital border" to refer to immigration enforcement schemes that depend on new digital technologies such as biometrics, facial recognition, automated surveillance or "Big Data". Private enterprises played a role In developing border enforcement technologies. They created the "border industrial complex" causing immigration governance, militarization and criminalization to merge. Military and quasi-military devices were now used to combat migration. Since these decisions had negative impacts on the fate of various groups of people, the Special Rapporteur recommended states and non-state actors to alleviate efforts on digital borders. The Special Rapporteur informed that digital borders caused direct and indirect discrimination.

The adoption of unchecked new technologies strengthened xenophobia and discrimination and could cause international inequality. For instance, using biometric identification technologies could coerce refugees.

Finally, she stated that new technology would always benefit the interests of the designers and creating new forms of inequality. Therefore, the Special Rapporteur recommended an immediate ban of new surveillance technology in the context of border enforcement. To remove the ban, there had to be prior monitoring of these technologies by human rights experts. The Special Rapporteur reminded that state and non-state actors had responsibilities to prevent and combat racial discrimination.

2) Presentation on the Glorification of Nazism:

The Special Rapporteur shared the content of this report: A first part was about the state efforts to fight glorification of racism. States were invited to continue collecting such data. The second part recalled the applicable equality framework contained in international human rights law (IHL). States and non-state actors were urged to use this as a guide in the combat against racism.

Finally, the Special Rapporteur shared that the COVID-19 pandemic increased in anti-semitism, hate speech and racist conspiracies. States were invited to integrate the combat against intolerance in their COVID-19 recovery plans. Internet and Social media providers should create mechanisms to fight and prevent racial hatred and the spread of racist ideologies.

Statements made by States

The European Union (EU) was committed to fight racism, discrimination or xenophobia through their Anti-Racism Action Plan. The Organization shared its commitment to respect its IHL obligations on migrants. The EU rejected the allegations made by the report and regarded them as poorly investigated. The EU was saddened that the report did not recognize its efforts on ensuring the wellbeing of migrants during the pandemic. Finally, the EU stated that its final goal was to protect the human rights of migrants and fight the root causes of racism.

Palestine stated that Israel continued to discriminate Palestinians through surveillance and military interventions in order to maintain their occupation. Israel implemented ID cards to control the movement and rights of Palestinians. In addition, Israeli company Frontex had established a partnership with EU border security to militarize the borders of the EU and criminalize migrants and refugee-seekers. Palestine reminded the member states of their human rights obligation and comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Israel affirmed that it was fighting the growing antisemitism, Nazism and racism. The country called all states to implement effective frameworks and legislations to fight root causes of racism.

Australia condemned all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. Australia was saddened on growing online and offline islamophobia, antisemitism, and racism. The country called states to work with national Human Rights institutions and civil society to fight such phenomena. Finally, they asked what states could do to prevent the spread of racism or xenophobia on online platforms.

Ecuador was concerned about the growing racism and xenophobia on refugee-seekers and migrants during the pandemic. Ecuador agreed with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that new technologies should not deepen discrimination, racism and xenophobia. States should promote tolerance, respect, and awareness in such times. Ecuador informed that hate crimes were fully criminalized and stated its commitment to implement the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA).

Senegal stated that COVID-19 deepened inequalities and strengthened discrimination or populism. Especially people of African descent were still victim of discrimination and marginalization, even twenty years after the DDPA. Senegal informed that it formulated a legislation on racial, religious, and ethnic discrimination. Finally, Senegal asked the Special Envoy on how to combat contemporary extremism and populism.

Armenia stated Azerbaijan's verbal and physical aggressions against Armenians and its glorification of convicted murderers. For instance, Azerbaijan dehumanized Armenia in textbooks and called for the destruction of Armenian's parliament building. Finally, Armenia shared that Azerbaijan possessed no press and media freedoms and instrumentalized hate against Azerbaijanis.

Bangladesh mourned for the fate of Rohingyas who were persecuted and stripped off their citizenship. The country regretted that the Special Envoy did not mention the discrimination of Rohingyas but rather criticized Bangladesh for their migration policy. Bangladesh mentioned how it hosted Rohingyas and invited the international community to ensure the Rohingya's safe return to Myanmar.

Luxembourg mentioned the creation of new technologies that could deepen discrimination based on race and nationality in future. States had to respect racial equality and non-discrimination when implementing these new technologies. Finally, the country asked how states could restore the trust of migrants in terms of these technologies.

Iraq stated that xenophobia, racism and racial discrimination were violations of IHL and existing obligations. Verbal aggression against migrants and refugee-seekers hindered social cohesion and peace. Iraq informed that its country prohibited by law discrimination, hostilities, violence and the promotion of racist ideologies.

Indonesia first stated the positive impacts of new technologies. However, the country showed no real opinion on the potential negative impacts. Finally, Indonesia asked how the benefits of new technologies could remain non-discriminative but protect the people's privacy.

South Africa took note of the first report. South Africa mentioned Art 4 of CERD and called states to condemn and punish racist propaganda. Finally, South Africa stated its fight against hate speech and racism and appreciated other countries' struggle against glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and all forms of racism.

Venezuela stated that its people are multiethnic and multicultural. Equality would be enshrined in the constitution and violators punished. The Plan of the Homeland 2919-2025 aimed to eradicate racist and discriminatory contents in all sectors of the states. Venezuela supported the mechanisms created by the Council that aimed to eliminate racism and discrimination.

Kenya would condemn racism, discrimination and intolerance. Kenya pointed out that despite progress since the DDPA, countless people still deal with racism. Kenya called states to fully implement the Resolution 43/1 and other mechanisms aiming at getting justice and equality back.

Cuba reiterated its support to the DDPA and all programs aiming to fight racism and discrimination. All states should achieve social justice and equality within their borders. Cuba agreed that new technology, such as digital border systems, had a discriminatory impact on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Finally, the country questioned whether digital border issues tend to be negatively impacted when only rent seeking non-state actors are involved in implementation.

Even though Paraguay considered digital technologies as useful during the pandemic, the country believed that monitoring of these devices would be important. Paraguay stated that it was a non-discriminatory and equal country that always welcomed migrants. Paraguay warned from excessive dependence on digital devices since it could deepen inequalities affecting vulnerable groups. Paraguay recommended that countries prevent and combat racism and discrimination through the use of technology.

Russia was concerned about digital technology causing racial discrimination in border control as it forcibly returned refugees or migrants based on racial, national, or ethnic origin. The roots of the problem lied in the colonial and Nazi past of certain countries. Russia stressed the importance to fight the spread of racist ideologies. In order to do so, countries had to respect their obligation under Art. 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Belarus noted that the report of the Special Rapporteur did not include information on Latvia's and Estonia's support of Nazi ideologies. Belarus criticized the HRC and EU for not blaming Baltic authorities for their policies and attempts to whitewash their criminal past during World War II. Finally, Belarus asked the Special Rapporteur two questions:

  • 1)What could the HRC do so that Baltic countries stop glorifying Nazism?

  • 2)Did her team plan on visiting these countries?

Morocco noted the Special Rapporteur's observations on increasing inequalities in border control policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country stressed the importance of cooperation of all stakeholders during such times. Morocco shared that its country always respected human rights through different initiatives. The HRC and IOM should play a central role in the fight against discrimination through digital devices. Morocco asked if the generated inequalities through new technology would fade once the pandemic finished.

The United States of America (USA) stressed the importance to fight the roots of structural racism. The country rejected the hate against Asians or Pacific Islanders which increased during the pandemic. It also refused to accept all forms of discrimination based on religion. The USA asked which methods could eradicate the roots of systemic racism.

India rejected all allegations within the report. The country informed that its new identity system Aadhaar was based on equality and justice. It was not used to profile people based on race, caste, religion or other traits. India clarified that it was a secular, tolerant and equal state. India invited the Special Rapporteur to respect her mandate and to appreciate Indian domestic mechanisms.

Brazil considered racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance as the biggest human rights violations. It mentioned the ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance to show its willingness to fight all forms of racism. In addition, it stated its support to the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent and the DDPA. Finally, Brazil asked how human rights' policymakers could cooperate with designers and developers of new technologies.

Namibia thanked the Special Rapporteur for mentioning Namibia's efforts to prevent the spread of extremism, xenophobia and racism. Namibia reiterated that it continued to promote national, racial and religious harmony within its borders. The country stated that it was currently drafting a cybercrime and cybersecurity legislation to limit the spread of racist ideologies within its country.

China thanked the Special Rapporteur for pointing out attempts of the USA, UK, Australia and European countries to infringe the right of migrants and refugees. China clarified that these countries violate the rights of migrants. The authorities of the UK, USA and Australia made recent remarks that incited discrimination and exacerbated the violence against minorities. Finally, China recommended to the Special Rapporteur to continue urge states to change their racist policies and xenophobic statements and protect the rights of minorities, refugees and migrants.

Portugal was honored to have facilitated the political declaration for the 20th anniversary of the DDPA. The implementation of the DDPA and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination were very important for Portugal. Portugal informed that it adopted a National Plan to Prevent and Combat Racism and Discrimination. Finally, the country questionned which human rights-based approach should be adopted to eliminate the dangers of new technologies.

Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) agreed that new technologies exacerbated xenophobia and racism as they targeted certain communities based on religion and race. The OIC echoed their concerns regarding the discrimination and racism against Muslims on social media. The organization stated that economic, societal, and political forces were driving the expansion of new discriminatory technologies. Finally, the OIC reiterated its deep concerns about the offline and online racism, incitement of violence and the use of freedom of expression to engage in hate speech.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) stated its willingness to continue fighting racism and discrimination worldwide. The UK noted its legal system that penalized racial hatred and offences. Its recent examination on racism and inequality within the UK had a positive result. Another study resulted in 24 recommendations to improve the lives of millions of people in the UK. Finally, the UK asked what the international community could do to foster healthy dialogue about racism.

Azerbaijan condemned Armenia's glorification of national personalities who collaborated with Nazis. The country criticized the racist ideology and supremacist theory of Nazism that Armenia embraced for years. Finally, the country clarified that it rejected all forms of racism worldwide.

Botswana stated that the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) were important frameworks to fight discrimination or racism. Botswana stated its commitment to implement the DDPA and invited other member states to do so.

Panama was concerned about the use of new technologies operating with a degree of autonomy and that were used in migration policy. Since vulnerable people were at risk with such new devices, Panama called for a global ban of autonomous weapon systems.

Belgium agreed that states should respect IHL obligations to prevent national, racial discrimination. Belgium criticized that only a few situations were mentioned in the report where new technologies caused racial and xenophobic discrimination. In addition, the report focused on potential problematic violations of the right of privacy but did not demonstrate a clear link to racism and xenophobia. Belgium also criticized the report as Belgium did not practice extraction of private data.

Lesotho was concerned about the recent increase of racism and xenophobia. The country stated its tradition of hosting revolutionaries that fought racism. Lesotho mentioned that new technologies should eliminate discrimination against vulnerable people and not further it. Therefore, Lesotho welcomed the implementation of effective measures to fight racism and discrimination.

Egypt mentioned the increase of discrimination and intolerance based on religion and race. Right-wing parties in numerous countries were targeting Muslims and people of African descent. Egypt stressed the importance of ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This mechanism would demand states to submit periodic reports. Finally, Egypt recommended states suffering from xenophobia and racism to cooperate with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the Special States campaign of the HRC.

Mauritania was deeply concerned about the use of new technologies. The country informed that racism on online platforms would be very dangerous. Finally, Mauritania stated that the fight against racism and discrimination required strong will and concrete measures of punishment and criminalization to eradicate it.

Democratic people's republic of Korea (DPRK) was concerned about the discrimination and xenophobia across the world. The DPRK stated that Japan excluded Korean students from the university support programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DPRK thanked the Special Rapporteur's former reports stating Japan's contemporary racism. In this former report, the Special Rapporteur apparently mentioned that Japan undermined the autonomy of Korean students and jeopardized their access to education. According to DPRK, such acts were deepening inequality and violating fundamental freedoms. Finally, the DPRK asked the Special Rapporteur on what had to be done for Japan to cease its human rights violations.

Chad aligned with itself with the statement made by the African group. Chad agreed with the Special Rapporteur that exclusive frameworks had to be implemented in order to fight racism. Chad also supported the idea to further the cooperation with civil society in the effort to implement new policies and technologies. Finally, Chad recommended all stakeholders to adopt and strengthen legal measures to fight against policies that use data technology in border policy.

Response of the Special Rapporteur to the questions

Response to the regret if the EU to not be mentioned positively: Even though the EU possessed impressive frameworks to combat racial discrimination in many areas, the EU mobilized expenditures to undermine refugees and discriminate migrants. There were daily reports of people drowning in the Mediterranean and of Afghan refugees being denied entry to the EU. The EU also preferred using new technologies rather than focusing on the repercussions of these devices in border policy.

Response to Australia on how to combat online hate speech: The Special Rapporteur highlighted three measures:

  • Establish greater regulations on social media platforms

  • Break online hate speech with sensibilization

  • Give local leaders the opportunity to speak against populist movements

Response to Bangladesh on not focusing on the Myanmese violations against Rohingyas: The Special Rapporteu's report dealt with refugees and migrants. She recognized all the efforts made by Bangladesh to protect Rohingyas but explained then that her report highlighted the experience of a part of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh.

Response to Luxembourg on how the international community could reestablish the trust of the migrants and refugees: The Special Rapporteur recommended to eliminate policies that produced contact tracing and excluded migrants and refugees from public resources. The rights of migrants and refugees had to be respected to reestablish their trust.

The Special Rapporteur had technical problems on Zoom and so responses to Indonesia, Cuba and other countries could not be recorded. The president therefore closed the meeting after demanding the Special Rapporteur to put her remaining statements online.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace