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As the leading UN human rights body opened its debate on the right to development in Geneva today, Independent Expert Arjun Sengupta, said that while the process of globalization opened up the potential for realizing the right, in actual practice, the functioning of institutions, and global trade rules “severely constrained the ability of developing countries to adopt policies that would realize the right to development.”

The expert highlighted the merits and weaknesses of a new partnership initiative for development cooperation in Africa as a model for the challenges involved in making that right a reality. That initiative, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), came closest to the proposed model for realizing the right to development, he said.

But while the African countries involved had identified the nature of international cooperation and level of bilateral partnership that would be necessary to implement the programme, NEPAD fell short of the right to development approach by not fully integrating human rights standards with social development programmes, he said. Moreover, the partnership arrangements were not based on a recognition of binding obligations, so that even if the programmes were implemented, they could still remain underfunded.

With that example in mind the Expert said that in an increasingly globalizing world, the policies of any State, financial institutions and international organizations had a bearing on the outcomes and efforts of all other States. To that extent, it had become necessary for all these agencies and the international community as a whole to cooperate and adopt policies that enabled States to implement their right to development.

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Racial discrimination

26 March – Declaring that new and subtler forms of racism are on the rise, a United Nations human rights expert has warned that the fight against discrimination cannot be won if there is no culture of dialogue and respect between peoples, regions and countries.

Wrapping up the Commission on Human Rights’ debate in Geneva yesterday on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination, Doudou Diène, the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, said the consensus emerging from the debate was that racism was still prevalent.

Mr. Diène noted the consensus in the meeting also stressed that it was important and urgent to link the legal and political components in the fight against racism with ethical issues. He stressed his intention to implement his mandate with the greatest objectivity, without responding to any pressure, wherever it might come from.

He also said that if the Commission felt that separate reports were needed on Islamophobia or on anti-Semitism, he would take this under consideration.

Martin Oelz of the UN International Labour Office (ILO) said that through its supervisory procedures, the agency continuously assisted governments to promote and realize equality and non-discrimination at the workplace. The multi-dimensional nature of racism and racial discrimination was increasingly being addressed through a number of the ILO’s technical assistance programmes, he added.

For instance, the ILO was preparing a major project on the question of forced labour and its linkages to discrimination, poverty and indigenous peoples in Latin America, he said. A programme launched in Pakistan targeted extreme manifestations of forced labour among members of disadvantaged religious and ethnic minority groups. In Europe, the ILO continued to work on discrimination against migrant workers.

The debate included representatives of both Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which variously contended that not enough had been done to implement the Declaration and Programme of Action of the 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism, and that discrimination was mounting against Muslims, Jews, and groups such as migrant workers, persons of African descent, and indigenous peoples.

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Global Compact

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