Date of Meeting: October 31, 2018

Meeting Organizer: Mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance

ISJC Staff Present: Major Victoria Edmonds

Reporter: Major Victoria Edmonds

Which SDG does this topic cover? SDG 1, 4,5,8,16

Type of meeting: Information Sharing

Brief summary of presentation of information made

The UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance, Tendayl Achiume called this meeting so that she could present her findings to the global community on this topic.

The purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness about the dangers that nationalist populism represent for racial equality, and the urgency to denounce the racist and xenophobic lies of populist nationalist and to adopt all the necessary measures to comeback racist populist expressions and counter the rising climate of intolerance.  The event also gave opportunity to share practices and to strengthen a multi-stakeholder dialogue to promote respect for human rights, non-discrimination and racial equality.

The panel consisted of:

Moderator – Tendayi Achiume – UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance

H.E. Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve – Permanent Representative of the Belgium

Craig Mokhiber – Director, Office of the Human RightsR

Jamil Dakwar – Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program

Michael Balcerzak, - Chairperson, Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent

Gay McDougall – UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Some of the points brought up in this meeting regarding racial discrimination

  • Accepting partial information as the whole truth
  • Education is the key for people knowing what is right and what is wrong
  • Failure to confront wrong doing
  • Freedom of speech
  • Global rise on hate speech
  • Holding people accountable
  • Inadequate education
  • Mobilization
  • Rejecting violence
  • Speaking out
  • Shrinking of liberal democratic and civic space
  • Telling the truth
  • Violence on killing
  • Willing to take sides and not just be neutral on a subject

The Special Rapporteur talked about her report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly regarding the threat posed by nationalist populism to the fundamental human rights principles of nondiscrimination and equality.  Her report pointed out that nationalist’s populist ideologies and strategies that pose a sobering threat to racial equality by fueling discrimination, intolerance and the creation of institutions and structures that will have enduring legacies of racial exclusion.

Her report condemns nationalist populism that advances exclusionary or repressive practices and policies that harm individuals or groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin and religion, including in combination with gender sexual orientation, disability status, migratory status or other related social categories.  The objectives of the report was to contribute a measure of analytical clarity to human rights debates regarding nationalist populism, to map the most pressing of the dangers it poses from a racial equality perspective, and to recall the international human rights equality and non-discrimination standards that apply.

The key points the Special Rapporteur highlighted in her report are:

  1. The threat of nationalist populism to racial equality 
  • The Special Rapporteur condemns nationalist populism that advances exclusionary or repressive practices and policies that harm individuals or groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin and religion, in combination with gender, sexual orientation, disability status, migratory status or other related social categories.
  • Populism on the right and the left commonly adopts anti-establishment positions, often calling for the dismantling of various liberal democratic institutions viewed as disadvantageous to the group identified as “the people”, political scientists have found that right-wing populism tends to be inward-looking and primarily nationalist in its orientation, whereas left-wing populism has traditionally been oriented towards internationalism.
  • The report centres on nationalist populism to highlight the specific threats to racial equality that arise when these two orientations are combined. Nationalist populism — especially when it is adopted by ethno-nationalists tends to limit the people to a particular racial, ethnic or religious group understood to be the only legitimate national group. Right-wing populists champion this ethno-nationalist conceptualization of the people using the increasingly multicultural nature of societies as evidence of an imminent threat against the survival and preservation of the nation.
  • Right-wing nationalist populists regularly take the additional step of arguing that those identified as the people are long-suffering victims of multicultural society, and that multi-culturalism itself is a driver of socioeconomic decline for the people. The strategy, then, is not just to target elites, but also to target multi-culturalism and members of minority races, ethnicities and religions as all part of the problem. Racial, ethnic and religious minorities are relegated to the status of illegitimate interlopers whose interests are characterized as oppositional to those of the group exclusively designated as constituting the people.
  • Nationalist populism often successfully advances heteronormative, patriarchal visions of the nation, and a version of traditional values that leads to serious violations against marginalized social groups (including women, gender and sexual minorities, and persons with disabilities), especially when those who are socially marginalized are also racial, ethnic or religious minorities.
  • There is reason to believe that new forms of media have aided or amplified the influence of nationalist populism, and leaders of these movements have been especially successful at exploiting new media technology including social media for their benefit.
  1. Global and regional trends: a racial equality analysis nationalist populism. Racist and xenophobic violence hate crimes and hate speech. 

           Racist and xenophobic violence, hate crimes and hate speech

  • Perhaps the most visible impact that resurgent nationalist populism has had on racial equality has been to escalate incidents of racist and xenophobic violence, crimes and speech all over the world. It has also aided the spread and mainstreaming of messages of intolerance that had typically been confined to marginal, extremist platforms.
  1. Institutionalization of structural and other forms of exclusion
  • Once they are in government, nationalist populists often deploy a range of tactics to disenfranchise groups portrayed as outsiders, including racial and ethnic minorities. These might include, for example, seemingly race-neutral measures imposing specific photo identification and other requirements that disproportionately exclude marginalized groups from voting.
  1. Shrinking of liberal democratic and civic space
  • Nationalist populism has also seriously threatened civil society organizations, including human rights organizations providing support to minority groups, migrants and refugees and other marginalized groups.
  1. Patriarchy, heteronormativity and “traditional values”
  • Nationalist populist rhetoric and policy regularly advocates a heteronormative, patriarchal vision of the nation and a return to traditional values. Traditional values are often patriarchal, heteronormative practices and norms that severely constrain the autonomy of women. Such values also constrain the autonomy of non-conforming gender and sexual minorities, who, because they are cast as other, do not enjoy the status of the people as legitimate beneficiaries of the nation.

Recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur

The Special Rapporteur recommended that Member States actively and explicitly:

  • Recognize that nationalist populist mobilizations threaten racial equality. Too often, public officials are reluctant to acknowledge the prevalence of racism, discrimination and related intolerance, and this state of denial itself can prevent action to combat discrimination and intolerance. Condemnation of racist and xenophobic nationalist populism must be swift and unequivocal.
  • Take all measures necessary to combat direct and indirect forms of racial discrimination, at all levels of government: national, provincial and even local.
  • A strong condemnation of attempts by public and private actors to co-opt the language of equality and non-discrimination as a means of stifling legitimate expression, and attempts to use the language of freedom of expression as a means of or cover for violating the rights of others to equality and non-discrimination.
  • The media has an important role to play in tackling racist and xenophobic expression and should observe codes of conduct that embody a substantive commitment to racial equality.  

All that took place within this meeting were statement made by the panelist or recommendations made from the audience in the room.  Most of what the Special Rapporteur had to say was information that had been presented at different High-Level meetings within the United Nations.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

It worth reading the whole document ( We need to be aware of what is being said in the global community.  People within the Salvation Army may feel the effects of some the issues brought up in this discussion, but on the whole to be reminded that these things are taking place in our world today, and how do we deal with them from a Christian perspective.

Web links for more information - Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance - Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Tags: United Nations, SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG1: No Poverty, SDG4: Quality Education, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG5: Gender Equality