On 1 September 2011, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published its report of concluding observations on the UK Government’s 18th and 19th periodic reports, showing how the Government has complied with the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
In the report, the Committee ‘welcomes the enactment of the Equality Act of 2010 as a landmark improvement in anti- discrimination legislation’ and ‘notes with appreciation the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission under the Equality Act of 2006’.
However, the Committee raises a number of concerns, including concerns relating to:
- the UK Government’s response to the riots and acts of vandalism that took place in August 2011.
- reports of an increase in virulent attacks and negative portrayal of ethnic minorities, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees by the media.
- the austerity measures adopted in response to the current economic downturn, and the so-called ‘Red Tape’ challenge, including scrutiny of measures envisaged under the Equality Act to prune those deemed ‘bureaucratic or burdensome’.
- the potential impact of measures in the Localism Bill to enhance decision-making powers at local level.
- proposed budget cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which may have negative effects on the execution of its mandate.
- the lack of a race equality strategy that includes an action plan, targets and monitoring provisions.
The Committee recommends that the UK Government ‘ should implement all of the provisions of the Equality Act and ensure that there is no regression from the current levels of protection’.
The report also states that the Committee ‘deeply regrets the State party’s insistence on proceeding immediately with the eviction of the Gypsy and Traveller community at Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing alternative culturally appropriate housing for members of these communities’. A separate ‘Statement on Dale Farm’ was also published on 1 September.
In June 2011, UK NGOs Against Racism submitted a report to CERD highlighting the key challenges faced by ethnic minorities in the UK and where the Government could be doing more to tackle inequalities in BME communities.
In July 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its shadow report to CERD, highlighting the key issues that the EHRC considers are impacting on race equality and containing recommendations for government action.
Click here for CERD report of concluding observations on the UK government’s 18th and 19th periodic reports (pdf)
Click here for report submitted to CERD by UK NGOs Against Racism
Click here for letter from UK race NGOs published on 21 August 2011
Click here for report submitted to CERD by the Equality and Human Rights Commission