UN Committee examines NZ government's performance on racial discrimination
Peace Movement Aotearoa
20 February 2012
On 21 and 22 February 2013, the government's performance in implementing the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will be considered by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination, the independent expert body that monitors state compliance with the Convention, during its 82nd session
This update has information about the Convention, the Committee, NGO Reports to the Committee, the interactive dialogue
between the Committee and government representatives, details of when and where you can watch the interactive dialogue,
and where you can find more information. The update is available on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/notes/peace-movement-aotearoa/un-committee-examines-nz-governments-performance-on-racial-discrimination/486796528034388
- please share the link on your page.
• International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD, the Convention) was
adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1965, and entered into force in January 1969. The Convention defines
racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or
national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, of human
rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or other areas of public life.
It is the oldest, and the third most widely ratified UN human rights convention, with 175 state parties. New Zealand
signed the Convention in 1966 and ratified it in 1972.
• UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD, the Committee) was the first treaty monitoring body
created by the UN to monitor and review actions by states to fulfil their obligations under a specific human rights
agreement. It comprises 18 independent experts, appointed by state parties, and monitors how states are putting the
Convention into practice. CERD usually meets for two sessions, each lasting four weeks, every year.
Every state party to the Convention is required to submit regular Periodic Reports to CERD on what legal, judicial,
administrative and other steps they have taken to fulfil their obligations to eliminate racial discrimination. The
Periodic Reports are examined by the Committee, in conjunction with information supplied in parallel Reports from NGOs.
As well as the Convention, the Committee takes into account General Recommendations, which it has developed through time
to provide more detailed information on specific topics, to assess whether or not a state party is complying with its
obligations under the Convention.
• NGO Reports to the Committee
Five national NGOs provided information to the Committee: the Community Languages Association, Human Rights Foundation,
New Zealand Federation Multicultural Councils, Peace Movement Aotearoa, and the Robson Hanan Trust.
The Peace Movement Aotearoa Report focussed on the lack of constitutional protection for Convention rights, the Treaty
and indigenous peoples' rights, foreshore and seabed legislation, privatisation of state owned assets (Mixed Ownership
Model) and water, deep-sea oil seismic exploration and drilling, hydraulic fracturing, the Immigration Amendment Bill,
and the February 2013 Australia / New Zealand agreement on refugees.
Issues raised in the other NGO Reports include: language teaching in schools and in the community, Operation 8, police
use of Tasers, education for children unlawfully in New Zealand, employment discrimination, the Human Rights Amendment
Bill, and the criminal justice system and Maori. In addition, there was an individual Report covering a range of child
• Interactive dialogue between the Committee and government representatives
The interactive dialogue will take place in Geneva on Thursday, 21 February and Friday, 22 February (details are
included in the section below). The dialogue will focus on the government’s Consolidated 18th to 20th Periodic Report to
the Committee, which was submitted in February 2012, and the List of Themes sent to the government by the Committee in
December 2012 - the List of Themes outlines issues the Committee is particularly interested in discussing during the
interactive dialogue, and together with the Periodic Report, is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/cerd82.htm
The government delegation will be led by Judith Collins, Minister of Justice, Minister of Ethnic Affairs and Minister of
• When and where you can watch the interactive dialogue
The dialogue between government representatives and the Committee will be webcast live at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org
- the session start times are 3pm, Thursday, 21 February (NZ time: 3am, Friday, 22 February) and 10am, Friday, 22 February (NZ time: 10pm, Friday 22 February).
• Where you can find more information
Updates and information on the 82nd session - when and where you can watch the session, media coverage, and who said what in Geneva are available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/cerd82-sess.htm
Background information on: the International Convention, the Committee, the NZ government and the Convention, the government's Report to CERD,
the list of themes sent to the government by the Committee, NGO parallel Reports to CERD, what CERD has said about the
NZ government before, the follow up procedure (2008 and 2009), and useful links and other relevant information is
available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/cerd82.htm