IDSN was delighted to welcome representatives from Dalit Solidarity Networks in Germany, UK, Finland and Norway to Copenhagen for a two-day meeting from 8-9 February. IDSN International Associate Arisa from The Netherlands also took part in the meeting and special guest, Priyadharsini Palani, from The Blue Club, made an inspiring presentation on the organisation’s work on amplifying the voices of Dalit women.
Following his visit to Sri Lanka last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Tomoya Obokata, raised concern over caste-based discrimination in Sri Lanka affecting the lives and opportunities for oppressed castes in the country.
IDSN participated in the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights from 29 November – 1 December, learning and drawing attention to the urgent need to address caste discrimination and violence in global supply chains.
Following his visit to Nepal that started on 29 November, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Olivier De Schutter, released a statement highlighting the persistent interconnections between caste and poverty in Nepal. The Rapporteur also raised issues of caste violence and the need to do more to ensure meaningful political representation of Dalit women in Nepal.
IDSN has issued key recommendations to the UN member states for the 48th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council (13 September – 8October 2021) .
On the 30 September, during the Interactive Dialogue with the HRC Advisory Committee, Pradip Pariyar, from IDSN member organisation Samata Foundation, highlighted the need for the UN system to keep engaged in eradicating caste-based discrimination.
UN experts spoke out about the links between discrimination and slavery at the webinar “Contemporary Slavery & Racial Discrimination: Civil Society Support to Survivors during the Pandemic” organised by the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Geneva Human Rights Platform and the UK Mission in Geneva, on 2 December. Several experts raised concern over caste discrimination and caste-based occupations as well as the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups.
IDSN delivered strong statements at the UN Forum on Minority Issues on the theme “Hate Speech, Social Media and Minorities” highlighting the need to address caste-hate speech. The Forum was held in Geneva and virtually from 19-20 November 2020.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hosted the global webinar “When language excludes and discriminate”, focusing on descent-based discrimination and words that serve to discriminate, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The event took place on 12 October and was co-organised by IDSN.
The need for more attention to be paid to intersectional caste and gender discrimination and for transforming mindsets through human rights education and awareness raising, was highlighted at the UN multi-stakeholder hearing ‘Accelerating the Realization of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls’ on 21 July.
“It is distressing that caste-based prejudices remain deeply entrenched in our world in the 21st century, and I am filled with sadness for these two young people who held high hopes of building a life together despite the obstacles presented by their accident of birth … Caste-based discrimination remains widespread, not only in Nepal but other countries, and often leads to serious harm and, as in this case, even loss of life. Ending caste-based discrimination is fundamental to the sustainable development vision of leaving no one behind.” Read the full statement from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. The United Nations Resident Coordinator, in Nepal, Valerie Julliand, also made several statements on Twitter on the killings.
In February, the IDSN Membership Coordinator took part in the National Stakeholder Consultation on the UN UPR in Nepal, organised by IDSN members the Dalit NGO Federation, Feminist Dalit Organization & Jagaran Media Centre together with IDSN Affiliate the Dalit Welfare Organisation and over thirty other Dalit NGOs in Nepal. The Consultation highlighted the need to act to end caste discrimination and promote caste gender justice. Over 70 participants from CSOs, media, academia, and Government took part in the consultation.
IDSN submitted a report detailing the challenges faced by Dalit women and girls in Pakistan, for the review of the government’s report on compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW review), which took place Tuesday 11th February.
Participants and presenters shared stories, ideas and strategies at the workshop Minority Women: 25 Years as Agents of Change Together, organised by IDSN and the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) at the Beijing+25 Regional CSO Forum in Bangkok, on 26 November. The presenters included Judith Anne Lal, from the National Dalit Movement for Justice-NCDHR and the event was moderated by IDSN board member, Megumi Komori from IMADR. A video from the event was also shared.
DSN leaves its mark on the UN Business and human rights forum with a very popular stand, highlighting the links between caste and human rights violations in global supply chains. At the stand Dalit human rights defender Ankita Paudel from IDSN member organization, Feminist Dalit Organisation – Nepal (FEDO), and IDSN staff, spoke with participants to improve their understanding and urge them to take action. Ms. Paudel also took part in key events at the forum and made connections with other relevant stakeholders. The IDSN Director, Meena Varma, also gave a snapshot presentation on what Governments can do to start addressing these issues with businesses and IDSN Ambassador, Gerard Oonk, made important new connections and raised awareness of key stakeholders.
IDSN has contributed to the UN Human Rights Council’s 42nd Session with two joint statements with Minority Rights Group International (MRG) on slavery and on safe drinking water and sanitation. IDSN also issued specific recommendations aimed at states and circulated by IDSN.
Dalit human rights defenders and UN experts raise concerns over intersectional caste and gender discrimination and its adverse impact on access to human rights, at the Dalit Women and Gender Justice side-event at the UN Human Rights Council’s 41st Session in Geneva. On 25 June 2019, IDSN International Associate IMADR, and others organised a side-event during the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council, on Dalit women and gender justice. The panel was composed of Dubravka Simonovic, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Renu Sijapati, General Secretary of the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO-Nepal) and Abirami Jotheeswaran, from the National Dalit Movement for Justice-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NDMJ-NCDHR). The event was moderated by Henri Tiphagne, from Peoples’ Watch, in India.
Renu Sijapati, from the Feminist Dalit Organisation – FEDO Nepal, delivered an oral statement at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019, encouraging Nepal to implement the recommendations in the UN Nepal visit report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. The visit took place in October 2018.
On Friday 8 March, Ruth Manorama, a Dalit human rights defender, delivered a statement, co-sponsored by the International Movement Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination and by the Right Livelihood Award (in solidarity with IDSN), during the 40th regular session of the Human Rights Council. She also spoke on the panel at the Right Livelihood side-event on Women Human Rights Defenders.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, raises concern over increasing marginalisation and discrimination in India, in her speech to the UN Human Rights Council in March. Speaking about the situation in India, the High Commissioner shows concern over the fact that, despite significant poverty reduction in general terms, there has been, “increasing harassment and targeting of minorities – in particular Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis”. She points out to narrow political agendas in that country lead to further marginalisation of vulnerable people.