Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

in a nutshell

The Convention (1965, in force 1969) covers the rights of all people to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on grounds of “race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin”. Article 1 defines racial discrimination; article 5 asserts the right to education without discrimination.

Full text of the convention

Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Each state that has ratified the Convention periodically prepares reports on its implementation which are submitted to the Committee. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) may submit ‘alternative’ reports to the Committee. The Committee considers the reports and examines government delegations from the states concerned, and prepares its concluding observations and recommendations for further action.

View the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (extracts concerning inclusive education 2004-2009):

The principles guiding the elimination of racial discrimination are outlined in article 2:

‘(1) States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end:

  1. Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to en sure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation;
  2. Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations;
  3. Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists;
  4. Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization;
  5. Each State Party undertakes to encourage, where appropriate, integrationist multiracial organizations and movements and other means of eliminating barriers between races, and to discourage anything which tends to strengthen racial division.

(2) States Parties shall, when the circumstances so warrant, take, in the social, economic, cultural and other fields, special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These measures shall in no case en tail as a con sequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.’

Article 5 recognises the right to education without discrimination:

‘In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: ...

  1. Economic, social and cultural rights, in particular: ...

(v) The right to education and training....’

Page last updated: Friday 12 October 2018

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