Alarming Rise in Racism and Xenophobia UN Human Rights experts decry “Unashamed bigotry” in joint statement

21, Mar 2018 | CJP Team

In a joint a statement issued to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, United Nations and regional human rights experts have called on countries, civil society groups and activists to do more to tackle the increasing xenophobia and racism around the world.

The experts include the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, among others. The experts said, “Vile discourses of explicit hate and ideologies of racial supremacy have moved from the fringe to the mainstream”. In a Press Release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the experts stated,

Racial, ethnic and religious bigotry fuels human rights violations, including extreme violence against minorities, and against refugees, migrants, stateless persons, and internally displaced, including people of African descent, with a particularly acute effect on women, and sexual and gender diverse populations. This bigotry is unashamed.”

The experts said “the assault on the human dignity of millions around the world had reached alarming proportions”. It cited examples such as crowds of youths marching to neo-Nazi chants in Charlottesville, Warsaw, and Berlin, to the racist and xenophobic attitudes of politicians in the highest levels of office worldwide; from the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, to the excessive use of military force to police communities of African descent in different parts of the world.

They said urgent global attention must be paid to the structural economic, political and legal conditions that stoke racism and xenophobia among populations that perceive minorities and non-nationals as threats.

“It also means confronting the fact that the rise of populist nationalism is a product of widespread loss of faith in establishment politics that privilege elites, as well as the offensive, xenophobic rhetoric of extremist ideologues,” the experts said.

This is especially evident in the context of backlash in different regions of the world to refugees and involuntary migrants, where gaps in existing international legal frameworks combine with short-sighted national policies to reinforce chaotic and dangerous movements. This chaos heightens anti-migrant anxieties.”

They added, “It is incumbent on states, including through the ongoing negotiations for the Global Compacts for Migration and on Refugees, respectively, to provide legal pathways for migration and to take the other concrete steps necessary to create an international framework that prioritises substantive equality for all.”

The experts said the language of discrimination and intolerance had now become common-place in the media and even in mainstream national political discourses, and they called on States and other actors to redouble their efforts to address the factors contributing to the increase in racial discrimination and inequality.

“Putting an end to racial profiling by law enforcement agents is just as urgent as putting an end to violent hate crimes perpetrated by private actors,” the experts said. “Denouncing xenophobic Muslim bans implemented through immigration policies that rely on offensive and flawed assumptions about entire religious groups, is just as urgent as denouncing explicit Islamophobic or anti-Semitic statements made by political leaders.

“Putting an end to the forced displacement and cultural extinction of racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples that results from government and multinational corporation-driven extraction and construction projects, is just as urgent as addressing the resurgence of neo-Nazism.”

The complete Joint Statement may be read here.

The complete list of UN Human Rights experts who issued the joint statement:

Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Mr. Michal Balcerzak, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African DescentMr. Jose Francisco Cali Tzai, Acting Chairperson of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Ms. Alda Facio, Chairperson of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Ms. Urmila Bhoola, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

TheInter-American Commission on Human Rights expert: Ms. Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the rights of Afro-descendants and against racial discrimination.


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