Human Rights Watch (HRW) and IDSN have issued a joint written statement to the 31th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, calling for global action to end caste discrimination.

The UN Human Rights Council, its member states and UN bodies should work much harder to eliminate one of the world’s worst forms of discrimination. This is the overall message from Human Rights Watch and IDSN in their joint statement titled Ending discrimination based on caste and descent.

The statement includes a number of important recommendations. HRW and IDSN urge the HRC and its members to call on caste-affected states to act on the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, in her report on caste discrimination. The Special Rapporteur will present the report to the HRC on 15 March, and on the following day, she will speak at an OHCHR-organised side event on caste discrimination.

The two organisations also urge the HRC and its member states to promote and endorse the draft UN guidelines on ending caste discrimination (UN P & G): “The HRC should adopt a resolution on the UN P&G and institutionalize regular reporting and effective dialogue on the elimination of discrimination based on caste and analogous forms of inherited status,” the statement says.

Caste-affected states should endorse these guidelines as well and ensure their implementation; enact and enforce anti-caste discrimination legislation; pay specific attention to the issues of caste-affected women; and take action on caste discrimination in disaster relief operations.

HRW and IDSN call on the UN system, including specialized agencies and country teams, to address caste discrimination at all levels and recognize this form of discrimination as a gross human rights violation which should be addressed in the context of the Durban Review Conference and its follow-up mechanisms.

Members and associates of IDSN are gathering in Geneva next week for the network’s triennial General Assembly, IDSN’s highest body. A number of participants, including Dalit representatives from caste-affected countries, will attend the OHCHR side event on caste discrimination and take part in meetings with UN officials.

More information:

Ending discrimination based on caste and descent (Joint statement)

UN expert urges states to combat caste discrimination

IDSN recommendations for HRC31

Draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent