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How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.


UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination
International Mechanisms

What you need to know


UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)CERD logo

While the Equality Commission does not have a formal role with regards to CERD, we have sought to input into the examination process and to influence locally, nationally and at the international level.

Equality Commission Recommendations

The Commission’s May 2016 Shadow Report to CERD (pdf) welcomed the NI Executive’s publication of a new Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland and relevant commitments therein.

Notwithstanding these developments, the Commission expressed concern at the slow overall progress towards achieving racial equality  and recommended the Committee ask the State Party to outline its progress against 5 key areas:
  • a co-ordinated cross departmental action plan in Northern Ireland, to accompany the Racial Equality Strategy with clear targets, practical actions and appropriate timescales for implementation;
  • reform of the racial equality and fair employment legislation (aligned to the Equality Commission recommendations);
  • the collection, monitoring and evaluation of appropriate data relating to minority ethnic groups including consultation on, and implementation of, comprehensive monitoring guidance;
  • action to address prejudicial attitudes/racist hate crime;
  • action to address key inequalities in health, education, employment and housing and promote the integration of minority ethnic communities (particularly marginalised groups such as Travellers and Roma/asylum seekers and refugees).

Further information is available in the Race Equality section of our website

CERD Concluding Observations

In August 2016, the CERD Committee published its Concluding Observations on the UK (pdf). Several of its observations and recommendations specifically referenced Northern Ireland and echoed the concerns raised by the Commission as part of our engagement with the Committee. For example, the Committee:
  • called on the Executive to adopt ‘comprehensive’ anti-discrimination legislation ‘without further delay’
  • raised concerns that data is not collected systematically in all fields ‘most notably in Northern Ireland’ and called on the Executive to publish disaggregated data on the enjoyment of rights by members of ethnic minorities and monitor the impact of its actions
  • called on the UK State Party to adopting a detailed action plan with concrete targets, monitoring mechanisms and sufficient resources
  • called on Government to take forward a range of actions to address issues of underreporting and tackle racist hate crime and racist hate speech
  • raised concerns that the situation of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma has ‘not substantially improved’ and called for Government to develop a comprehensive Strategy in consultation with these communities.

Engagement with CERD reporting process

In June 2015, the Commission arranged UNOHCHR-led training, for officials from the Executive Office Racial Equality Unit and NI Executive Departments responsible for the delivery of the Racial Equality Strategy on developing National Action Plans Against Racism.

In May 2016, the Commission submitted a report in relation to CERD’s list of themes and held meetings with key stakeholders including NICEM and NIHRC to identify opportunities to engage with Committee members on areas of joint interest.

In August 2016, at the examination of the State Party in Geneva, the Commission briefed CERD Committee members on the Commission’s top policy priorities for Northern Ireland.

Following the examination, the Commission contacted the CERD Country Rapporteur to address any issues raised during the State Party examination and reinforce the key points made during our meeting.

Key stages/dates

  • State Party Report submitted March 2015
  • Commission Submission to List of Themes1 (pdf) - submitted May 2016
  • Commission Shadow report (pdf) – submitted May 2016
  • State Party examination - August 2016
  • Committee’s Concluding Observations published 2016
  • Follow-up report on recommendations2 – 2017
  • Next State party report due – April 2020

1 Instead of a ‘list of issues’ which requires written answers from the State party concerned, CERD established a new practice of a ‘list of themes’. Unlike the list of issues, the list of themes does not require written replies but is meant to guide the dialogue between the States party and the Committee during its examination in Geneva.
2 Paragraphs 16 (a) and 16 (e) (racist hate speech and hate crimes), 19 (counter-terrorism measures) and 31 (health).

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