United Nations (UN)

UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (commonly referred to as the UN Racial Discrimination Convention or ICERD) requires the states parties to pursue a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races. By 2018, 179 countries had signed up to the Convention.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination CERD is the body responsible for monitoring implementation of the Convention since 1969.

Switzerland acceded to the Convention in 1994. This was made possible by adoption of the statutory provision against racism and racial discrimination (Art. 261bis SCC), which was approved by the electorate in a 1994 referendum, with 54.6% of those taking part voting in favour of its inclusion.

ICERD country reports

As is the case with the majority of UN conventions, the states parties to ICERD are obliged to submit regular reports on their activities and progress. The Committee examines each report by entering into a constructive dialogue with a delegation from the country in question. Alongside the reports submitted by the states parties themselves, additional information provided by non-governmental organisations in the form of ‘shadow’ reports is taken into consideration.

In Switzerland, the Federal Commission against Racism also produces a report of its own.

ICERD individual complaint procedure

The individual complaint procedure is a mechanism for improving enforcement of the rights set out in the Convention.

UN Special Rapporteur on racism

The special procedures – independent experts tasked with reporting on the situation from a thematic or country-specific perspective – are another instrument that can be used by the UN Human Rights Council. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on racism was created in 1993.

World Conference against Racism

Durban I

The third UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was held in Durban in 2001. Switzerland took part alongside 162 other countries. The final documents (Declaration and Programme of Action) express the states’ determination to join together in a spirit of political will and have thus become political benchmark texts in the fight against racism, with Switzerland being no exception.

Durban II

The Durban II review conference took place in Geneva in 2009. It assessed the progress made towards achieving the goals adopted at the previous conference and identified new challenges. A large number of countries, including Switzerland, reported on the measures they had taken at the national level to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Last modification 15.07.2020

Top of page