International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The date for the next examination of the UK Government has not yet been set. The last examination was in August 2011.
The UK Government’s State Report was published in March 2015. Read the UK CERD State Report.
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the international human rights treaty that sets out a comprehensive framework for ensuring that civil, political, economic and social rights are enjoyed by all, without distinction of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. The UK ratified CERD in 1969.
When it examines a state, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee), makes a number of concluding observations which outline how the state can improve its implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In August 2011, the CERD Committee raised concerns and issued concluding observations (recommendations) about many issues in the UK, including:
- producing a detailed action plan or strategy to tackle race inequality
- reviewing the impact of ‘stop and search’ powers on ethnic minority groups under various pieces of legislation in the UK
- taking all necessary steps to eliminate all racist bullying in schools.
The CERD Committee also delivered a statement on the rights of Gypsy and Traveller Families at Dale Farm which had been considered at the state examination and under the Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure.
The examination process
The implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee), a body made up of 18 experts from around the world.
These experts are elected to serve four-year terms. The CERD Committee generally meets formally twice a year (February and August).
Governments who have ratified CERD are required to submit periodic reports to the CERD Committee every two years outlining the measures they have taken to give effect to the provisions of the CERD. In practice the CERD Committee usually asks States to submit these periodic reports together and the Committee examines the State on this basis every four or five years. These reports are known as the “State Report.”
The UK’s most recent State Report was submitted in March 2015.
Other organisations like the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and civil society also provide submissions to the CERD Committee which can provide an alternative analysis of the impact of laws and policies, supported by evidence. These reports are known as a “Shadow Report”.
The EHRC submitted its last Shadow Report in July 2011 and will be submitting a further report in 2016.
After the State Report has been submitted, and prior to being examined by the full CERD Committee, one of its members is designated the ‘Country Rapporteur’ and prepares a list of themes to guide discussion at the examination.
At the examination, the Government party is invited to make an introductory statement followed by constructive dialogue between the Committee’s experts and the Government. National Human Rights Institutions, such as the EHRC, may also give a statement at the examination.
Following the examination the CERD Committee produces a report which includes recommendations for the State party to implement. These are called the ‘Concluding observations’.
The EHRC, in conjunction with the Runnymede Trust, produced a guide to explain the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and information on the reporting process.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) periodically drafts general recommendations which offer clear guidance on the application of the CERD articles in particular situations. Such recommendations include guidance on:
- combatting hate speech (Recommendation 35)
- discrimination against Roma (Recommendation 27)
- gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination (Recommendation 25).
Article 14 of CERD allows states to enter into an optional declaration recognising the CERD Committee’s competence to receive and consider complaints from individuals or groups of individuals who have been victims of racial discrimination.
The UK has not made such a declaration to allow individuals the right to complain directly to the committee.
Early warning and urgent action procedure
The CERD Committee has established a procedure to more effectively respond to urgent issues. A working group of the CERD Committee will consider submissions on issues that, for example, indicate a significant and persistent pattern of racial discrimination or the presence of a pattern of escalating racial hatred and violence. The CERD Committee can undertake a number of actions including issuing statements, collecting further information or offering assistance.
The UK Government has been subject to this procedure regarding the rights of Gypsy and Traveller Families at Dale Farm
Further information on all of these procedures is available in the EHRC/Runnymede Guide.
Last Updated: 23 Jun 2015