Prior to the International Symposium on UN Guidance Tool on Descent-Based Discrimination in Tokyo. IMADR and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held the International Consultation for the Elimination of Descent- Based Discrimination in Osaka on 9 April. The Consultation was attended by representatives from Dalit civil society in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, leaders of Buraku Liberation League (BLL), the former UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues and a representative from the OHCHR. As an outcome document of the consultation, Dalit and Buraku civil society organisations adopted the “Declaration for the Elimination of Descent-Based Discrimination”.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, has been asked by a Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert, to outline any specific steps that the EU has taken to proactively support IDSN’s Consultative Status at the UN to date and what plans exist for future support.
IDSN and 257 other NGOs issued a statement for the meeting between the ECOSOC NGO Committee and accredited NGOS, raising concern over the “practices of the Committee that have inappropriately blocked the participation of some NGOs, in particular human rights NGOs, through procedural tactics including perpetual and repetitive questioning of applicants."
IDSN made a joint statement with Minority Rights Group under Item 8. This statement focused on the global prevalence of caste-based discrimination despite the Vienna Declaration and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Caste based discrimination, or discrimination based on work and descent, affects almost every human right, and can be perpetuated throughout generations. Despite legislation and policy development, lack of enforcement and judicial caste bias often lead to complete impunity for perpetrators who have violated Dalits’ rights. This statement also stressed the intersectional effects on Dalit women, who suffer gender-based violence as well as caste-based violence. According to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dalit women are often “displaced, pushed into prostitution and victims of trafficking”. IDSN and MRG urged the Council to pay more attention to those affected by caste-based discrimination.
The International Movement against All forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) delivered a joint statement with IDSN, Jan Sahas and the Movement to end Manual Scavenging, in response to the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation. The statement thanked the Rapporteur for his country report and echoed the Rapporteur’s concerns regarding the vulnerability of Dalits to physical assault, violence and discrimination. This statement stressed the dire situation of Dalit women who are “often subject to sexual violence including rape due to their lack of access to safe sanitation facilities”. IMADR, IDSN, Jan Sahas and the Movement to end Manual Scavenging are concerned about the pervasive culture of impunity and the continuing practice of manual scavenging. The joint statement urged India to “secure safe access to water and sanitation for Dalits and ensure justice for Dalit victims of violence”.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr Leo Heller, delivered a statement outlining his report on his country visit to India in 2017. He noted that caste-based discrimination has led to unequal access to water and sanitation services. India responded to this observation stating that the constitution prohibits any form of caste-based discrimination, which is a criminal offence, and according to India, “liable to harsh punishment”.
Anti-Slavery delivered a statement highlighting the danger that migrant domestic workers face, particularly those who are “members of socially excluded and marginalised groups, such as indigenous people and Dalits”. The statement strongly urged States to implement the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations, especially concerning the adoption of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, extending the coverage of national labour law and ending sponsorship systems.
IDSN, in a joint statement with Minority Rights Group (MRG), delivered a strong statement in response welcoming the report and highlighting the issues faced by Dalit women who are discriminated against, not only because of their caste, but because of their gender. These women are “particularly subject to bonded debt in the area of domestic work”. It is a practice that is prevalent in many countries in Asia and one that needs to urgently be addressed. IDSN and MRG urged the Rapporteur to continue monitoring those who are discriminated against on the basis of their caste, specifically those who are subject to servitude and modern slavery.
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Ms. Urmila Bhoola, made a special reference to caste-affected groups in the context of discriminatory attitudes in domestic work in her report to the HRC. She urged states to increase their efforts “in addressing and preventing domestic servitude”.
IDSN engaged with the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), held in the Palais des Nations from the 10th to the 28th of September 2018. IDSN delivered statements, lobbied Member States and OHCHR staff and met with the High Commissioner and the NGO Committee. Read a summary of IDSN's interventions in this IDSN news piece.
UN side-event hears cases of caste-based violence against Dalit women in India where UN and legal experts respond with calls for action. The report ‘Voices Against Caste Impunity: Narratives of Dalit Women in India’, was also released at the event and an outcome document with recommendations from the event has been produced.
In his address to the Human Rights Council, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, raised concern over the “repeated deferrals and apparent lack of transparency amounting to a de facto rejection on the granting of IDSN’s UN consultative status.”
Moni Rani Das, born and raised in a “cleaners’ colony”—poor and segregated settlements where street cleaners and domestic workers live—in Dhaka, Bangladesh, never imagined that she would be advocating for her rights and those of nearly 3 million Dalit  women of her country. Today, she is the first Dalit person to be part of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said he is concerned that criticism of the government is met by claims that it constitutes sedition or a threat to national security.
Caste-Based Discrimination and Untouchability against Dalit in Nepal
Nepal's Civil Society ALTERNATIVE REPORT to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in addition to the Government of Nepal periodic reports 17 to 23, to be reviewed at the 95th session, 23 April -11 May 2018 Caste-Based Discrimination and Untouchability against Dalit in Nepal February 2018