Within the span of a month the urgent issue of caste discrimination has been highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Assembly, The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UNDP. Earlier this year the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women also reported grave concern for Dalit women.
The inescapable effect that caste discrimination has on the rights of Dalits is evident from the increasing references to concern for Dalit children, Dalit women, Dalit rights and Dalit human rights defenders in UN mechanisms and agencies. Below is a brief recap of this past month’s references.
In his annual report (A/HRC/26/29) to be presented at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai addresses the challenges faced by Dalits in their enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. This is the first time that the Special Rapporteur has addressed caste-based discrimination. Read the references on caste here.
Discrimination on the basis of caste was raised in the committee’s examination of India. Read the press release from the Nation Campaign on Dalit Human Rights on this here.
There are important References to Caste-Based Discrimination in the OHCHR Strategic Management Plan 2014-17 as well as in the Opening statement of Ms. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to be delivered at the first meeting of HRC26 June 10 2014. Navi Pillay highlights caste and Dalits in her concluding remarks that focus on continued stone-walling and denial by states. Please find a link to the references here
The report finds Dalits and muslims in Nepal to be at the bottom of development tables on all fronts including education, poverty and health. The report emphasizes that,
“Social sector policies need to recognize the caste and ethnic dimensions of humandevelopment. Clear and ongoing caste and ethnic inequalities are revealed in different educational achievements and earnings. This strengthens the argument for deliberate strategies to increase inclusiveness by providing educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged ethnic and caste groups such as the Dalits and Muslims.”
Policy recommendations from the report include:
“Ensure education, health and empowerment programmes focus specifically on the lower economic classes, disadvantaged caste, and ethnic groups, and women. Capability improvement has to be a basic feature of local plans. The second group includes Dalits and Muslims, especially.”
Previous UN references
In the IDSN Compilation on caste references by UN Treaty Bodies, Universal Periodic Reviews and the Special Procedures previous references can be found here www.idsn.org/uncompilation .
IDSN has also made a Cluster and analysis of issues and recommendations from UN institutions on Dalit women .