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General Assembly, 17th session, 3rd Committee : 1168th meeting

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/SR.1168
Convention International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
Document Type Summary Record
Session 17th
Type Document

5 p.

Subjects Racial Discrimination, Protection of Minorities, Religious Intolerance

Extracted Text

United Nations THIRD COMMITTEE, 1168th
GENERAL meeting
ASSEMBLY Wednesday, 31 October 1962.
Official Records NEW YORK

Agenda item 48:
Manifestations of racial prejudice and nationaland religious intolerance (continued)
General debate (continued) 171
Chairman; Mr. Nemi Chandra KASLIWAL (India).
Manifestations of racial prejudice and national and religious intolerance (A/5129, A/C.3/L.1006/Rev.4, A/C.3/L.1008/ Rev.1, A/C.3/L. 1009/REV 1, A/C.3/L.1010) (continued)
GENERAL DEBATE (continued)
1. Mr. SALSAMENDI (UNESCO) thanked members of the Committee who had commented on the work per-formed by UNESCO in the field of human rights and remarked that, in accordance with its Constitution, the agency was endeavoring to advance the ideal of equality of educational opportunity without regard to race, sex or any distinctions, economic or social*.
2. Advocates of white supremacy and anti-Semitism had always eased their consciences by invoking the social and physical sciences, in the past half-century, however, real scientists had refuted the allegations of so-called scientific racism. Some of their conclusions were presented by UNESCO in two series of publications. The Race Question in Modern Science and The Race Question in Modern Thought, and in various other literature. Those works discussed in a readable and objective manner the contributions which science had made to the race question; they also analyzed the nature of race prejudice itself, and the myths on which it fed. UNESCO was not trying either to make propaganda or to level charges, but merely to confront theories with facts. It was. however, comforting to realize that no branch of science could provide racism with the slightest argument on which to base its theories.
3. Among the studies made by UNESCO were those of prejudice among children. In addition, a comprehensive study of the attitudes of young people and adults in regard to racial prejudice had been begun in 1961 by Professor Melvin M. Twain, a sociologist of Princeton University. Anti-Semitism had been the basis of the work, and three European countries had provided case studies. The preliminary report on the study had been closely examined at a meeting recently held at the UNESCO Youth Institute, in which sixteen specialists in various fields had taken part along with representatives of youth and Jewish organizations from nine countries. Problems of intergroup relations among young people had previously been the subject

of discussions at the Youth Institute which had led to recommendations for constructive action in the field, and particularly for educational materials. A recent proposal called for the establishment of a documentation centre for research material on intergroup relations. Members of the Committee might also recall the study by the ***** of UNESCO on anti-Semitic and racist mount. nations (E/CN.4/Sub.2/209), which had been submitted by that organization to the sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at its thirteenth session. They were no doubt also familiar with the UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against discrimination in education, the texts of which gave proof of the agency's achievements in combating discrimination.
4. UNESCO's proposed budget for 1963-1964 envisaged an increase of sixty per cent for work in the areas of racial prejudice and national and religious intolerance.
5. Mr. MELOVSK1 (Yugoslavia) said that the present-day world was one of very rapid change in which the ideas of human rights and equality of all persons were gaining ground; the powerful process of decolonization of the last few years was bringing many countries to independence and thus dealing a decisive blow to racial discrimination. Nevertheless, in many parts of the world there still existed conditions and practices which fostered racial and national hatred or intolerance. There were still forces which opposed the process of emancipation of peoples and the removal of the differences between men.
6. The existence of any term of colonialism or neo-colonialism, which was itself based on an unequal status of the indigenous population, was a prime source of discrimination. A related source was discriminatory legislation which sanctioned the unequal status of certain categories of persons or members of ethnic or national groups and the like. Discriminatory legislation and practices were more or less a normal feature in dependent territories and colonies. The worst example in that respect was furnished by South Africa, which had elevated the most hideous practices of racial discrimination and segregation to an official State policy. Failure to educate the youth and the adult population in a spirit of friendship, tolerance and solidarity also contributed to the preservation of prejudices and discriminatory practices. Moreover, the cold war and the accumulation of out-standing international problems provided fertile ground for the growth of intolerance. In those circumstances, his delegation refused to belittle the importance of the offences of various kinds and under various pretexts—but always on the same racial and nationalistic basis-which had occurred in 1989 and 1960 in some parts of the world, and could not agree with the attempt to explain them away as the actions
1/ UNESCO, General Conference. Eleventh Session. Parts. 1960, Resolutions, section B.
1 A/C.3/SR.1168

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of irresponsible persons. Behind those occurrences stood those forces which did not want a relaxation of world tensions and which fanned racial passions and national intolerance in order to create new sources of friction.
7. Action to eliminate all discriminatory practices was imperative. The speedy implementation of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) would serve that end, as would the enactment by all countries of legislation prohibiting and punishing discrimination. Such laws and actions should be an integral part of national policy and not isolated temporary measures imposed by a given situation. States should also pursue active education policies to extirpate any vestiges of prejudice and intolerance.
8. Measures to eradicate discrimination had always had the full support of his country, in which the equality of all citizens was proclaimed in the Constitution and practiced in daily life. He supported Economic and Social Council resolution 826 B (XXXII) because it was in accord with Yugoslavia's position and adopted a suitably broad approach to the problem. He likewise supported the fourth revision of the draft resolution concerning a convention on the elimination of racial discrimination (A/C.3/L.1006/Rev.4), which would represent a further step towards the final elimination of discrimination.
9. Mr. GHORBAL (United Arab Republic) said that the Israel representative who had spoken during the 1165th meeting had clearly come to the Third Committee in order to inflict upon it. in language to which it was not accustomed, a political discussion which members had sought to keep out of the deliberations. His reply to the Jordanian representative, who had merely presented facts, had been tinged with a belligerence which the Bolivian representative had later aptly criticized. Israel had in fact committed atrocities after the cessation of hostilities in Palestine, and among them were those of Gaza some seven years after the war.

10. The Israel representative's main statement should have been made in the Special Political Committee. It could have a place in the Third Committee only after Israel had complied with the decisions of the United Nations and only after the legitimate rights of the Arab people of Palestine had been fully restored. Furthermore, no one in the Committee spoke as the representative of Islam, Christianity or Buddhism, and by the same token Israel was not entitled to speak for all the Jews in the world. Israel clearly sought to claim the double allegiance of Jews wherever they were, and to convince the world that all States were accountable to it for acts committed against Jews. it was even said that political Zionism wished to perpetuate the racial distinction theory in order to use it to further its political aims, and indeed, no other conclusion could be drawn from the position of one Zionist leader that the danger to Jews everywhere was assimilation. Two years before there had been an attempt to draw attention to the so-called wave of anti-Semitism; but he could cite one Incident, at least, in which the drawing of swastikas on a synagogue had been done by a Jew.
11. Discrimination against anyone, on any ground, was hateful and shameful. It should be stamped out within the country and, failing that, condemned by world public opinion and International organizations. That was why the United Nations was entitled to examine the abominable policy of racial discrimination in South Africa, Angola and Southern Rhodesia, and would continue to examine such matters.
12. The United Arab Republic, as an integral part of
Africa, as a country with the closest ties with Asia,
and as a nation in which the rights of ail were safeguarded, could not but support the revised resolution.
The text dealt constructively with the issue of discrimination and opened the way to the presentation of
the set of principles thus far worked out by the United
Nations in a single document. in the form of a declaration. In that respect the draft resolution heeded the
precautionary statements of several representatives.
The declaration, through its moral weight, would pave
the way for the elaboration of binding instruments
applicable to all States and people. He urged the unanimous adoption of the draft resolution and added that
he would also vote for the draft resolution recommended by the Economic and Social Council.
Mr. Albuquerque Mello (Brazil), Vice-Chairman. took the Chair.
13. Mr. COMAY (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, pointed out that his original statement had contained no reference to the Israel-Arab conflict. It had been his duty to correct the false statement made by another delegation, whether relevant to the subject under discussion or not, and in so doing, he had carefully refrained from attacking the internal situation in any Arab country or refer ring to individual border clashes, although a great deal could be said on both questions. His comments that those who unleashed war were responsible for the human suffering caused by it, had been misunderstood and misquoted by the Bolivian representative. Lastly, Israel expected no political allegiance from any but its own citizens, Jewish and Arab; but it was understandable that a country, 90 per cent of whose population was Jewish, which had profound ties of history and faith with other Jews, and which had taken in hundreds of thousands of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, should feel disturbed by manifestations of discrimination against Jews elsewhere in the world, and Israel's moral right and duty to express its concern in the debate should surely not be challenged, even by those hostile to it in other respects.
14. Mr. GHORBAL (United Arab Republic) noted that the representative of Israel rejected the myth expounded by the Prime Minister of his country on 11 October 1961, when he had claimed the loyalty of all Jews living outside Israel. He welcomed that change, and hoped that further steps would be taken by Israel to recognize the claim of the Arab population of Palestine to return to their homes and to have their rights fully restored.
15. Mr. AGUIRRE (Uruguay) supported both draft resolutions before the Committee and congratulated delegations on the submission of highly constructive amendments and suggestions.
16. His delegation felt the deepest concern that today, when the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the fruits of culture and the desire for international coexistence had spread so far and wide in the world, the present item should still appear on the Committee's agenda. The problem was, unfortunately, not a mere reflection of an issue that had been basically solved, but a very real and dangerous matter obstructing progress towards man's finest goals. The Committee must. If it was to succeed in its efforts, induce Governments to examine their conscience and

1168th meeting — 31 October 1962

determine how much they had done to eliminate obscurantism and promote peace and harmony among different social groups.
17. His own country was certainly not perfect; nothing on earth was. Yet, it could speak with pride of its achievements. The law and those who carried it out afforded protection and opportunities to ail without distinction, and that same spirit guided the population in its everyday actions. There were exceptional and isolated manifestations of intolerance and prejudice, as those of recent months, but they had been sharply condemned by all segments of Uruguayan opinion and quickly acted upon by the authorities. The character of the incidents had been highly confused, to the point where it was difficult to ascertain their true origin or meaning, and they had been misunderstood and exaggerated by certain international organizations. In any case, they in no way affected the pattern of respect and tolerance which marked the Uruguayan way of life. His delegation could vote with tranquility for the texts before the Committee and was firmly determined to help ensuring that those texts became a reality throughout the world.
18. Mrs. FEKINI (Libya) stated that her delegation was in duty bound to give its staunch support to all United Nations efforts to eradicate the last vestiges of racial and religious prejudice. Libya, where a conglomeration of races and religions lived together in harmony, was deeply concerned at the degree of racial discrimination in South Africa, where the vast majority of the population was relegated to the position of chattels. Such a system, based on the fallacious theory of racial superiority, was against all morality. She hoped that reason would prevail in the end and that racial atavism would disappear, paving the way for a new order of racial harmony and religious tolerance.
19. She welcomed the constructive proposals before the Committee and would support the revised draft resolution as well as the Czechoslovak working paper (A/C.3/L.1010).
20. Mr. E. K. DADZIE (Ghana) speaking as one of the sponsors of the revised draft resolution, calling for the preparation of an international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, said that such a convention would do much to help to create a world-wide psychological climate in which all men could go about their business freely, unimpeded by past fears and hatreds. For racial prejudice and discrimination were rooted in fear and only by allaying such fear would it be possible to do away with then.
21. The great changes occurring in Africa had aroused the fears of the minorities in the central and southern part of that continent. In a panic reaction those minorities had tried to perpetuate, in legislation and practice, forms of discrimination that they hoped would maintain the world as it used to be. That was a vain hope, for the world was slowly but surely standardizing its principles of conduct, one of which—implicit in the Charter of the United Nations—was that a man should be judged for what he was and not far his colour, religion or race.
22. One country still ridden by such a fear of the future was the Republic of South Africa, where a minority had so clung to Its privileges that it was even ready to violate the United Nations Charter repeatedly. The question of race conflict In South Africa resulting

from the policy of apartheid followed by its Government had already been the subject of no less than ten General Assembly resolutions and one Security Council resolution. In South West Africa matters were no better, as was clear from the report of the Special Committee for South West Africa Nor was the situation any more satisfactory in the African territories administered by Portugal and the United Kingdom—a particularly regrettable fact in the case of the United Kingdom since there had been no racial prejudice or discrimination in Ghana, Nigeria or Sierra Leone during the days of colonial occupation. But in Southern and Northern Rhodesia and in Kenya there was discrimination and racial prejudice for which the United Kingdom was responsible. In those countries a man was judged not for himself but by his race or the colour of his skin and he challenged the representative of the United Kingdom to deny the truth of that statement. In Southern Rhodesia, in particular, where the United Kingdom held ultimate responsibility for the country's foreign and internal policies, racial discrimination was paramount, as was recognized in General Assembly resolution 1747 (XVI). In Northern Rhodesia, too, according to the report of the Special Committee on the situation with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples (A/5238), the practice of racial discrimination and segregation was widespread and based on laws and ordinances.
23. In the Portuguese territories of Mozambique and Angola the situation was even worse and, according 10 the same report, the indigenous population was denied all fundamental rights and freedoms and racial discrimination was the rule; indeed, the economic life of Mozambique was based on forced labour.
24. Just as it condemned all forms of racial discrimination, so also did his delegation condemn all religious intolerance and discrimination. Religious freedom was guaranteed by the Constitution of Ghana and the law even provided that children attending a school run by a religious order were not obliged to accept that particular religion. Furthermore, under the Constitution the President, immediately after the assumption of office, had to make a solemn declaration before the people that, among other things, no person should suffer discrimination on grounds of sex, race, tribe, religion or political belief.
25. The people of Ghana looked forward to the day when the laws of all countries would provide for freedom from prejudice, discrimination and religious intolerance. Millions of victims of those social evils were pinning their hopes for a better and fuller life on the work now being done by the Committee, and the Committee must not fail them.
26. Mr. ATTLEE (United Kingdom) in expressing his delegation's gratitude to the representative of Ghana for his kind words about United Kingdom policy in Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, stressed that the United Kingdom had always abhorred racial discrimination.
27. He emphasized that the United Kingdom was not ultimately responsible for and had no control over the affairs of Southern Rhodesia. The constitutional problem was an extremely complex one which it would be inappropriate to explain on the present occasion. However, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia was currently in New York and had addressed the

General Assembly — Seventeenth Session — Third Committee

Fourth Committee (1366th meeting). He had not denied that there was racial discrimination in his country, but he had also explained the steps which were being taken to eliminate it and had informed the Fourth Committee of new legislation being introduced that would make all forms of racial discrimination a criminal offence.
28. Mr. SAHAI (India) said that mankind had paid and was still paying heavily for the tensions, conflicts and wars engendered by racial,, religious and political discrimination and intolerance. It was therefore heartening to hear those evils condemned by all delegations in unmistakable terms. The important thing now was not to delve into the origins of discrimination but to rid the body politic of its ill effects, and that called for the kind of positive thinking reflected in Economic and Social Council resolution 826 B (XXXII).
29. The idea for such a resolution had originated in the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, whose initial draft had been rewritten by the delegation of India on the Com-mission on Human Rights, extending the scope of the text to cover all manifestations of racial prejudice and placing special emphasis on educational measures. While legal measures were undoubtedly required, of even more importance was action to educate and mould the minds of the growing generation. The youth of the world had to be taught that all forms of racism and discrimination were meaningless and dangerous. The UNESCO report prepared in connexion with the item before the Committee pointed out that no scientific discipline provided any argument, however flimsy, in favour of racism; and, that the most powerful educative influence was exercised at the school level, since it was during childhood that the strongest prejudice were implanted. The United Nations would therefore be performing an extremely necessary task if it could convince Governments of the need to take long-term measures instituting educational programmes to realize the objectives of article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (General Assembly resolution 1386 (XXV)).
30. The Indian delegation welcomed the revision of the three-Power amendment (A/C.3/L.1009/Rev.1) to paragraph 3 of the Economic and Social Council's draft resolution, as it took into account the informal suggestion for modification made by the delegation of India, in order to avoid possible misinterpretation of the original wording of this amendment. In the case of the revised amendment submitted by Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, however, (A/C.3/L.1008/ Rev.1) it considered that it would be better for the report on compliance with the resolution to be submitted by the Secretary-General to the Commission or Human Rights, rather than direct to the General Assembly/.
31. With regard to the revised draft resolution he welcomed the initiative of the sponsors in proposing the preparation of an international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. India had legislation prohibiting the dissemination of propaganda intended to arouse racial, national, or religious hatred and punishing any action prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between the different religious, racial and language groups, castes and communities, and it would therefore have no constitional or legal difficulties In Implementing such a convention. it felt, however, that it would be desirable to allow more time for Governments to submit their comments and proposals and for the Commission on Human Rights to present the necessary draft and that it would be wiser not to bind them to any specific year, although they should be requested to give the subject priority.
32. His delegation would have preferred the revised draft resolution to be restricted to the question of a convention, instead of including an international declaration as well. However, knowing the views of many delegations on that subject, it would not press the point and would support the revised draft resolution.
33. Mrs. DEL LA GHERARDESCA (Italy) remarked that her country's position on the question under discussion was quite clear. The Italian Constitution was based on explicitly stated principles recognizing civil, political and social rights without any discrimination. The manifestations of racism which had given rise to the present agenda item had included some minor incidents in her country, but those had been promptly condemned. Under Italian law, the competent authorities had adequate powers to prevent and punish such manifestations.
34. Her delegation endorsed the principles and the measures set forth in the draft resolution recommended by the Economic and Social Council, for which she would vote, and she would also support the two amendments to it, since they further improved and strengthened the text.
35. She appreciated the motives of the sponsors of the revised draft resolution, but doubted the practicability of a single convention on discrimination in all its forms. As had been said, discrimination always constituted the denial of some specific right. If the proposed convention was to cover all rights, that purpose was already achieved by the draft International Covenants on Human Rights, which even included a prohibition of discrimination. It might be possible to attempt the preparation of conventions on particular forms of discrimination, but there already existed, for instance, ILO Convention No. Ill, concerning discrimination in respect of employment and occupation,3/ and the UNESCO Convention against discrimination in education. She wondered whether the proposed new convention was to cover the same rights as those, or other rights and she would like further explanations before a voter was taken on the draft resolution.
36. Mrs. TAYLOR (Liberia) found ft distressing that, at the present stage of man's Intellectual and scientific development, there were still people who sought to impose their will on others on grounds of colour or religion. She had not mentioned race, because It was a proven scientific fact that there was but one human race.
37. The purpose of the item under discussion was to devise means of eradicating the evils of racial prejudice and national and religious intolerance wherever they were still practiced. Those evils were at least as old as colonialism. As the days of colonialism were numbered, she hoped that the Committee would hasten the end of those problems too. No one could say what price the world would have to pay If they wars not discussed objectively and dispassionately, for men were still dying for the right to self-determination and other fundamental human rights. Nations and Individuals practicing racial discrimination feared

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that they would be overrun If the oppressed were granted the right of self-determination, but they were wrong; the oppressed peoples wanted only to live a free and decent life, however humble. Every individual was endowed with potentialities which, channeled in the right direction, could serve peace, brotherhood and goodwill; but if the individual lived in an environment of hate, mistrust and oppression, he was bound to be stayed by it. Thanks to the United Nations, the world had become one community, and one nation's problems automatically involved all others. Her delegation wished to see a lasting peace, which could not be had so long as men were denied their rights as individuals, and it would unreservedly join any others in condemning the enemies of humanity and in adopting drastic measures to wipe out the degrading practices under consideration.
33. Liberia was a Christian nation, and although al-most all the religious groups of the world were represented there, there was no discrimination against any of them, nor was any religious test required in order to qualify for public office. That being so, her delegation had whole-heartedly co-sponsors the revised draft resolution and had also introduced an amendment/ according to which the proposed draft declaration and international convention would deal with religious, as well as racial, discrimination.
39. Mr. BAROODY (Saudi Arabia) in presenting an amendment 5 to the revised draft resolution emphasized that it did not affect the substance of the text, but related to the machinery to be set in motion In order to achieve the objectives contemplated. Work on the draft declaration might be delayed if it was referred to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, whose members were experts appointed in their personal capacity; the debate might well be reopened in the Commission on Human Rights, composed of representatives of Member States.
40. Operative paragraph 2 of the draft resolution was not worded correctly, since the General Assembly itself would not prepare the convention. Operative paragraph 3 should not specify that the draft convention must be transmitted to the General Assembly for consideration at its nineteenth session since, in the event of any delay in the drafting, a further decision by the General Assembly would be necessary before the work could proceed. Lastly, the invitation to Member States, in operative paragraph 4, to submit their comments and proposals was too far removed from the decision to prepare a draft convention, thus giving the impression that such comments were un-important; that part of the text should be combined with operative paragraph 2.
The meeting rose at 1.5 p.m.
5/ Subsequently circulated at document A/C.3/L.1011.