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Violence against migrants is rising on a daily basis: Navi Pillai

Oct 14, 2013

Navi Pillai, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stressed on the need for combined efforts in addressing racism. She was speaking at the eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme. Excerpts from her speech.

Navi Pillay

The effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) and the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference continues to be a cornerstone of the work of my Office.

The DDPA and the subsequent documents adopted by consensus, under its umbrella, constitute the most comprehensive United Nations framework for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is essential that we keep reminding ourselves of these provisions, particularly when forming and reviewing national policies and practices. The data base launched by my Office on the 11th of September 2013 will help in sharing experiences on how States address the scourge of racial discrimination. The 1500 documents and contributions from more than 90 countries provide a unique collection of advice, legal precedent and know-how.

I have followed your work over the years as you considered among other topics, the role of politicians and political parties, sports, education, migrants, children, and specialized equality bodies. I look forward to your continued progress. Such debates should be mirrored at the country level so that we can advance in the elimination of racial discrimination.

Political will and adequate funding at the national, regional and international levels and international cooperation are urgently required. It is also of crucial importance that we all work together to increase public support for the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and to involve civil society and other relevant stakeholders in its implementation.

Despite the adoption of the important United Nations documents to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, these old scourges reinvent themselves in new forms and manifestations, and we need to examine and find effective ways to uproot this heinous phenomenon. In various parts of the globe, we have noted with grave concern deteriorating social harmony and inflammatory political discourse - often echoed by media, as well as restrictive legislation and continued discriminatory practices on several prohibited grounds.

The dangers of racism are such that we must continually assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference, as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

While over the years Governments have invested in anti-discrimination legislation, we have arrived at the conclusion that legislation alone, is not sufficient to respond fully to the challenges of racial discrimination and xenophobia. While employing every effort to implement existing legislation, we should also focus systematically and methodically on the root causes of the scourge of racism, as identified in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and apply a combination of measures towards their elimination.

We always stress the need for combined efforts in addressing racism. That is why I would like to underline the importance of NGOs and civil society organizations and the role they play in promoting and protecting human rights.

The discussion on national monitoring initiatives in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is very important. I already mentioned the data-base and I encourage you all to send us relevant documentation in this regard. I hope the discussion will emphasize the need to take particular care and adopt preventive and protective measures for the protection of all vulnerable groups and marginalized populations which are affected by discrimination and xenophobia.

We witness almost on a daily basis rising violence against migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers which poses a serious threat to social cohesion. Unfortunately, the situation of migrants can be associated with the consequences of stereotypical or provocative messages of a racial, religious, national or ethnic nature unwittingly or intentionally conveyed by political parties and political leaders. While these messages are not the only cause of their suffering, we need to strongly condemn political platforms and organizations based on racism, xenophobia or doctrines of racial superiority and discrimination, as completely incompatible with democracy, transparent and accountable governance.


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