Geneva, Switzerland. April 25, 2016
The opening session of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) took place April 25th in the Palais Wilson (house of the League of Nations) in Geneva, Switzerland. The session began with a welcome by Chairman José Francisco Cali Tzay from Guatemala, who wished the Committee a good and productive session in Mayan, his native language.
Soon after, the Committee moved on to nominate a new chairperson who will chair the Committee for the next two years. All members nominated Ms. Anastasia Crickley from Ireland, highlighting her longstanding commitment and experience in the fight against racial discrimination. Ms Crickley was elected Chairwoman of CERD by consensus.
As soon as she took the podium, Ms. Crickley acknowledged the improvements CERD has made since its creation, but also noted the existence of new manifestations of racial discrimination, such as discrimination against migrants and refugees everywhere. She also emphasized that women all over the globe suffer from the combination of racial discrimination and gender oppression, and encouraged the rest of the Committee members to look into the intersectionality of racial and gender discrimination.
“As a group we have a big job, we need to shepherd the world towards one free of racial discrimination. Our job is an important one, to support all others who are involved in implementing the Convention globally,” said Ms. Crickley.
Ms. Crickley is the twelfth woman elected since CERD’s inception, a that fact was highlighted by the Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), who also congratulated the members of the Committee for being the first panel with at least forty percent women members, as opposed to previous years where a vast majority of members were men.
This is the first time since its creation in 1970 that seven out of eighteen members of the Committee are women. “This gender-balanced panel—never achieved before—is exactly what we need to stand for what we preach. We hope it is a step towards a more efficient and accurate Committee,” said the OHCHR representative.
Following the OHCHR intervention came the swearing-in of the nine newly-elected members of the Committee, who will begin their assignment today and serve until 2020. The new members sworn in for their new terms were: from the Americas, Ms. Gay McDougall from the United States, Mr. José Francisco Cali Tzay from Guatemala, Ms. Verene Shepherd from Jamaica, and Mr. Pastor Murillo from Colombia, and from other regions, Mr. Alexei Avtonomov from Russia, Ms. Fatimata-Binta Dah from Burkina Faso, Mr. Nicolás Marugán from Spain, Ms. Yemhelhe Mohamed from Mauritania and Ms. Yanduan Li from China.
Other Committee members are: Chairwoman Ms. Anastasia Crickley (Ireland), Mr. Marc Bossuyt (Belgium), Mr. Noureddine Amir (Algeria), Ms. Afiwa Hohoueto (Togo), Mr. Anwar Kemal (Pakistan), Mr. Melhem Khalaf (Lebanon); Mr. Gun Kut (Turkey), Mr. José Lindgren Alves (Brasil) and Mr. Yeung Sik Yuen (Mauritius), all of whom will end their assignment in 2018.
In this 89th session, CERD will examine the reports of six States parties: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Namibia, Oman, Rwanda and Spain.
For more information please contact our Legal Adviser in Geneva at Evia@raceandequality.org