Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Issues (SOCHUM)
Combating Racism and Xenophobia
Forest Hills Eastern High School
Racism and xenophobia have been issues from long before this organization was established and have been repeatedly addressed by the United Nations and this committee. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was entered into force by the General Assembly in 1969. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination still monitors participating states. The Human Rights Council has appointed a Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia, and related intolerance for over twenty years now. But there is still much work to be done. As recorded on the UN website, just last year experts spoke to this committee to draw our attention to an uptick in racism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry. Thanks to new forms of media and unprecedented global communication, we are facing new forms of racism and xenophobia, and increasing perpetuation of discrimination and hatred both on and offline.
Portugal long ago signed its agreement to the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, but, like every other nation, still faces its own struggles with these issues. According to The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, we have particularly worked to end prejudice against the gypsy community, as well as people of African or Brazilian backgrounds. However, thanks to anti-racism legislation, we reported to the Commission that an increasing number of Portuguese racism complaints have been brought to light and addressed. Equality regardless of race, language, place of origin, ancestry, religion, beliefs, and more is laid down in our constitution and we have earned international recognition for our work to integrate all groups included in the Portuguese intercultural society with a top rank in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. Our membership in the EU, which is committed to fighting these problems, also helps reinforce our values. The EU’s Framework Decision on Combating Certain Forms and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by Means of Criminal Law has helped set forth principles to address these problems with legislation and law, while Groups such the EU High Level Group on Non-Discrimination, Equality and Diversity and the High Level Group on combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Intolerance have helped us learn from and contribute to best practices for working against these forms of discrimination.
The UN has long worked against racism and xenophobia, but we must adapt our work to a new era while empathizing that xenophobic and racist ideologies should not hold sway over societies and governments. In our increasingly connected world, it is essential that governments work together to prevent online perpetuation of discrimination and hate crimes. For example, we can bring online technology into the forefront of our efforts against discrimination by making a world where the internet helps us instead of hurts us with online educational programs or reporting systems. Forming a group of experts for further discussion on the matter may be a good place to start, but together we can innovate modern solutions to ancient problems. Portugal is ready to work alongside SOCHUM and reinvigorate this organization’s long history of combating racism and xenophobia.
- Claire Parish