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UN expert calls for international prevention of racial discrimination

UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Mutuma Ruteere [official website] on Tuesday called on the international community [report, PDF] to be wary of signs of racism that could lead to escalated conflicts and human rights violations. In his report to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] Ruteere discussed the need to increase preventive measures to address racial discrimination by ensuring the participation of discriminated groups in public and political life and promoting equal opportunities in social and economic areas. Ruteere noted that, among other key players, states have to implement such measures by creating legal and policy frameworks that will monitor, report and prevent racism and other types of discrimination. He also called political parties to combat discrimination which increase amid the existing economic uncertainty and the rise of unemployment:

[The Special Rapporteur] however notes that the prevention framework both at national and international levels remains weak and that consequently human rights violations persist with regard to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. He points out that the importance and value of preventive measures cannot be overemphasized. Indeed there is a significant need to further reinforce and implement preventive measures for more progress in the elimination of all the manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Ruteere recommended key players to implement specific national action plans that would "promote diversity, equality, equity, social justice, equality of opportunity and the participation of all" and adapt reporting mechanism that would monitor racism to eliminate such before escalating to a full conflict and other human right violations.

Racism and discrimination have been a constant issue worldwide. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has been of specific recent focus of the international community. Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] praised [official statement, text] the work of human rights activists for the right of LGBT people while calling for an end [JURIST report] to discrimination based on sexual orientation. He announced that he and his office will push the leaders of the international community to address the issue, noting that they have a legal obligation to do so. Last month the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released a report [JURIST report] concluding that in the US, incidents of hate-based murders against LGBT individuals increased in 2011. Also in June Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the Bulgarian Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva to denounce calls to violence by anti-gay groups in anticipation of a LGBT pride parade in Sofia, Bulgaria. During that same month Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo stated that the government was not discriminating based on sexual orientation, a statement that came days after the government had announced that it would ban at least 38 non-governmental organizations that are accused of recruiting children to homosexuality [JURIST reports]. Earlier that month a prominent Russian gay rights activist filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) challenging a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. The ECHR ruled that a Moldova law banning gay groups from protesting in front of the country's parliament violated citizens' rights [JURIST report] to peacefully assemble and to be free from discrimination.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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