The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights works to promote racial and ethnic equality for Afro-descendant and indigenous communities – a unique focus among international human rights organizations. We work with Afro-descendant organizations in the Dominican Republic, as well as with a wide range of organizations in Latin America fighting racial discrimination or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
There is a profound and entrenched problem of racism and racial discrimination in the Dominican Republic, affecting Afro-Dominicans and especially Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitians. While long-standing and historical, this discrimination was made plainly evident by the 2013 Dominican Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling which retroactively stripped hundreds of thousands of Dominico-Haitians of their Dominican nationality, rendering them stateless and provoking a humanitarian crisis on Hispaniola. The structural and cultural elements of this racism have been condemned by international human rights protection mechanisms; the Inter-American Human Rights Protection System: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has ruled against the Dominican Republic on two separate occasions because of its systematic violation of the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent. It has also been condemned by the United Nations, specifically the UN Rapporteur on Minority Issues and the UN Committee that oversees the International Convention against Racial Discrimination – CERD.
The Institute works to strengthen Dominican civil society organizations defending the rights of Afro-descendant Dominicans and Dominicans of Haitian descent, such as the Jacques Vieau Network. This network, composed of organizations such as the Socio-Cultural Movement of Haitian Workers (MOSCTHA), advocating on behalf of the aforementioned communities, focuses its efforts at the national and international level. The member organizations provide essential services and engage in awareness-raising activities aimed at dismantling the racism experienced by these communities.
The Institute strengthens the capacity of our counterparts and the leaders of the various countries in which we work so that they may actively participate in the OAS General Assembly, the Summit of the Americas Process, the Inter-American Human Rights Protection System, as well as the United Nations committee that monitors the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the committee that monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), through the provision of training, technical assistance, and political advocacy.