Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Opening day of Committee on Racial Discrimination

Monday was the opening day of the 84th session of CERD -- the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  In an historic event, they elected Mr. Jose Francisco Cali Tzay from Guatemala as their chairperson for the next two years, the first representative of an indigenous organisation to hold such a title.  His election included a nice welcoming speech from Chief Wilton
Mr. Cali Tzay is in the centre
Little Child, chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and messages of support from representatives of each of the regional groups on the Committee.

Mr. Cali Tzay is a member of the Mayan Caqchikel of Guatemala.  A ceremonial blanket from the International Indian Council was also presented to Mr. Cali Tzay during the opening day session as an expression of honour in the tradition of the Cree Indian Tribe.

The Committee will meet for three weeks and will be reviewing the reports of eight countries -- Belgium, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Poland, Switzerland and Uzbekistan.

The review of country reports will be webcast live.  The Committee is also expected to review and issue some decisions on individual cases and meet with governments in a state parties meeting, to discuss changes in working procedures.

More information about the CERD session can be found at the Committee's website.

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