The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

What is CERD?

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1966 (CERD) (the Convention) was one of the first human rights treaties to be adopted by the United Nations. More than 156 countries (four-fifths of the membership of the UN) have ratified the Convention; including Australia, which ratified the Convention on 30 September 1975.

What is the CERD Committee?

To assist in giving effect to the Convention, an international committee was established to monitor each State’s compliance with CERD’s articles. This committee, known as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee), is made up of 18 independent experts from countries across the world. Every country which has ratified the Convention must submit a biennial report to the CERD on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures it has taken to give effect to the Convention. The CERD Committee meets in Geneva, Switzerland and ordinarily holds two sessions a year, each being 3 weeks in duration.

What will happen at the next CERD Committee session?

Each State’s government must also appear before the CERD in Geneva, where their report is examined, and suggestions and general recommendations are made for future actions.

The Australian Government submitted its final report to the Committee in February 2010. A draft copy of the Australian Government’s report can be found here - http://www.dfat.gov.au/hr/treatyreport.html.

Australia is due to appear before the CERD Committee on 10 and 11 August 2010.

What is the Commission's role?

The Australian Human Rights Commission has prepared an independent report for the CERD Committee, which outlines Australia’s progress against and compliance with the Convention. You can read it here.

The Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes will represent the Commission as part of the reporting process .  As the country's national human rights institution, the Commission has an independent role in international treaty reporting.

In the lead up to the CERD reporting process, Commissioner Innes has engaged with relevant community organisations to understand their key current issues in relation to racial inequality in Australia. He has also worked cooperatively with relevant Australian Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and continues to do so with the community leaders who will be attending the session in Geneva.  He will formally meet with members of the Australian Government delegation prior to Australia's  review session on 10 and 11 August.

In his independent capacity, Commissioner Innes addressed members of the CERD on 11 August 2010 with a ten minute statement based on the Australian Human Rights Commission's ICERD Report