JCHR Press Notice 03-04 No. 34

Session 2003-04                                    28 October 2004


Inquiry into the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD): Concluding Observations on the UK's 17th Report

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) establishes standards on race equality which the UK has undertaken to uphold.  In common with the other principal UN human rights treaties, CERD requires the States party to it, including the UK, to present periodic reports at regular intervals, detailing the State's compliance with the rights protected under CERD.

The UK's Seventeenth periodic report under the Convention was considered by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 6-7 August 2003. The UN Committee's concluding observations were issued later that month.  Whilst the concluding observations recognised a number of positive developments towards achieving race equality in the UK, they also criticised some aspects of the law and policy on race equality, and made recommendations for change.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), as part of its mandate to consider matters related to human rights in the United Kingdom, regularly inquires into the UK's implementation of its obligations under the each of principal UN human rights treaties, and in particular into the action taken in response to the concluding observations of the UN treaty bodies.  The JCHR has already looked at the implementation of the concluding observations recently issued under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). 

This short inquiry will review the steps taken by government in response to the concluding observations of the UN Committee, and consider ways in which the UK's obligations under CERD could be more effectively met. 

A copy of the concluding observations of the UN Committee can be found at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/Symbol)/cd515b6fbf9c7a12c1256e010056fdf4?Opendocument

The Concluding Observations highlight a number of concerns with UK law, policy and practice.  They also recommend acceptance of the right of individual petition under Article 14 of CERD.  However, since the concluding observations were issued, the government review of international human rights obligations decided not to accept individual petition under the Convention.  

The Committee would welcome submissions from any individual or organisation  giving views on the criticisms and recommendations made by the UN Committee, and on the Government's response to them. These should be addressed to  Nick Walker, Commons Clerk of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  Electronic submission is acceptable to meet the closing date, but a signed hard copy should also be sent-in any event, witnesses are asked wherever possible to accompany hard copy by an electronic version, preferably in Word  format. Submissions should arrive by Tuesday 30 November 2004; the Committee may not be able to take into account evidence submitted later than this date.

Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed or circulated by the Committee at any stage.  You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.  Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract Parliamentary privilege.

Further information on the Joint Committee is available on its website at the address shown below.  Links to the JCHR's Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200203/jtselect/jtrights/117/11702.htm

The Committee's Twenty-first Report of this Session, on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is to be published on Tuesday 2 November and will also be available on the website.