International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was the first of the nine United Nations human rights treaties, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1965.  The Convention attempts to define what constitutes racial discrimination and set forth a series of principles and guidelines by which states can work to eradicate racial discrimination. There are currently 174 states that have signed the ICERD and, as such, it is legally binding for these states, with states having to periodically submit reports to ensure compliance and progress.

Goal: The goal of the ICERD is:

[…] to adopt all necessary measures for speedily eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations, and to prevent and combat racist doctrines and practices in order to promote understanding between races and to build an international community free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination […]

Relevant Clauses[i]

Article 2

1. States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end:

(a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and […]

(b) Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations;

(d) Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization;

2. State parties shall, when the circumstances so warrant, take […] special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.


Article 3

States Parties particularly condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction.


Article 5

[…] States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights:

(a) The right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice;

(b) The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual group or institution;

(c) Political rights, in particular the right to participate in elections-to vote and to stand for election-on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, to take part in the government as well as in the conduct of public affairs at any level and to have equal access to public service;

(d) Other civil rights, in particular:


[i]United Nations General Assembly  (1965). International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: