The United Nations is the inter-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. It is also where most of the international human rights standards to combat racism have been shaped and, because of it nature, it is an important space where civil society organizations working on combating racial discrimination can have their voices heard. The Human Rights Council is one of the most important political bodies within the UN system; it is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

The Special Procedures is the name given to the mechanisms established by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in the world. Two of the mandates that deal with racial discrimination are the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is one of the Special Procedures of the UN that examines incidents of contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination in the world. The Rapporteur conducts country visits and makes recommendations to Member States to help end discrimination.

The mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues is another Special Procedure that promotes the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. An important part of its mandate is the inclusion of the views of non-governmental organizations.

The UN has also created other institutions under the international human rights treaties. These bodies are made up of independent experts mandated to monitor States Parties’ compliance with their treaty obligations. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body that monitors the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The States that have ratified the Convention must submit reports on the rights situtation in their country, including how rights are being secured and strengthened. After such reports are submitted, the Committee addresses its concerns and recommendations to the member state in its “concluding observations.” The reports made by member states and the concluding observations of the Committee can be important advocacy tools for civil society organizations.

What We Do

The Institute promotes the participation of Afro-descendant organizations in the UN CERD Committee and the Special Procedures mandates that are related to racial discrimination. In order to increase the participation of our partners, the Institute provides technical assistance to Afro-Latino organizations on how to access the UN bodies, including the preparation of alternative, or “shadow” reports before UN CERD and how to submit reports and complaints to the Special Procedures mandates.

The Institute conducts activities based on the mandates of various bodies to contact Afro-descendant organizations before conducting country visits, and promotes public events with our partners to publicize the conclusions and recommendations of relevant bodies so that these can become advocacy tools for civil society organizations in Latin America.

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