CERD stands for the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. The Convention requires any UN member state that has signed the Convention to stamp out racial discrimination of all types and encourage different races to respect and understand each other better. The Convention deals with things like law and justice systems and how racism is dealt with, and the way Government services such as health, education etc. are delivered. The Convention is monitored by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination. It was approved by the UN General Assembly on 21 December 1965 and came into force on 2 January 1969. All countries who have signed up to the Convention must submit regular periodic reports to the UN Committee for examination.
What’s in CERD?
The Convention is broken down into three parts each with a number of Articles. There are 25 Articles in total. Part I of the Convention (Articles 1-7) is generally considered the most important part and deals with the following:
- Article 1 – Definitions and Interpretations
- Article 2 – Actions to be taken by States to eliminate discrimination
- Article 3 – Eradicating racial segregation
- Article 4 – Penalising racial discrimination
- Article 5 – Right to Equal Treatment in a list of areas
- Article 6 – Ways in which to get justice in cases of discrimination
- Article 7 – Combating prejudice through Education, Information, Culture
Part 2 (Articles 8-16) of the Convention sets out the way in which CERD will work including the way countries taking part have to provide regular periodic reports to the Committee and how the Committee will examine each countries efforts to meet the requirements of CERD. The Committee when it completes an examination, can make recommendations on how they think the country being examine can improve its efforts. The Committee can also take into account reports from organisations outside of Government. These are called ‘Shadow Reports’.
Part 3 (Articles 17-25) contains mainly administrative rules which help the smooth running of the CERD process.
Ireland and CERD
Ireland signed the Convention in 1968. Following the enactment of two laws, the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000, the Convention was formally ratified by Ireland in December 2000 and entered into force in January 2001. Ireland is currently in the process of preparing a combined report covering the 5th, 6th and 7th periods since CERD entered into force here. This report will cover the period 2010 to 2017. Ireland has previously submitted two periodic reports – a combined 1st and 2nd period report in 2004 and a combined 3rd and 4th period report in 2009. In agreement with the UN Committee it has become normal practice for many UN Member States to combine several periods into one report to cut down on administrative overheads on both sides.
Ireland's Combined 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Period Report to the UN Committee
Ireland's submitted the Combined 5th to 9th CERD Report to the UNCERD Committee in October 2018.
A draft report was prepared and made public in advance of the commencement of the consultation process. The consultation process for this report comprised several components as follows:
- Consultation with Government Departments and Agencies
- 3 Public Consultation Meetings (12 Dec 2017 in Galway, 13 Dec 2017 in Cork and 23 Jan 2018 in Dublin)
- An invitation to make written submissions (Deadline was 31 January 2018)
Following amendments arising from the consultation process, the revised report was submitted to Government for consideration prior to the document’s submission to the UNCERD Committee.
The latest indications are that Ireland’s formal appearance before the UNCERD Committee with regard to its combined Reports will be some time in late 2019.