2nd Quarterly, 2005 No.136

BLHRRI "Discrimination Based on Work and Descent" Project

On September 5, 2005, during the second session of the "Discrimination Based on Work and Descent" project of the BLHRRI, Chuo Law School Prof. Yozo Yokota gave a presentation to describe how the issue of discrimination based on work and descent was dealt with during the 57th session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (the Sub-Commission), which was held in Geneva in July and August this year. He briefly described the preliminary report prepared by Special Rapporteurs Prof. Yokota and Prof. Chin-Sung Chung. He outlined a plan to send questionnaires to governments, UN bodies, national human rights institutions and NGOs to seek more detailed information regarding communities affected by, remedies to, and prohibition of discrimination. Attendees were also informed about two planned regional workshops in Asia and Africa and the general consultation that is to be held on the issue during the next session of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in 2006.

Prof. Murakami of the Osaka School of International Public Policy gave a presentation on the definition of 'descent' in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), referring to observations by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Indian and Japanese governments. While CERD acknowledges that descent, as one basis of racial discrimination recognized under ICERD, includes caste and Buraku descent, the Indian and Japanese governments do not agree. Prof. Murakami supports CERD on the grounds that 1) race, skin color, nationality, and ethnicity are defined by birth in the same way as caste and Buraku descent; 2) discrimination against Buraku, Dalit, and black people are comparable in that remedies are required for the consequences of discrimination they suffer; and 3) CERD's definition of descent is similar to those of the Sub-Commission and the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.

In their presentations, Prof. Yokota and Prof. Murakami both clarified recent developments surrounding the issue and identified points for future development.

On December 9th to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the UDHR, the Osaka Liaison Conference of Universal Declaration of Human Rights will hold a symposium entitled "Towards the Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent" inviting Professor Chung Chin-Sung, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on discrimination based on work and descent; Professor Sukhadeo Thorat, Director of the Indian Dalit Studies Institute; Mr. Abdoul Kamara, Minority Rights Officer of RADDHO (a pan-African NGO for human rights); and Mr. Shigeyuki Kumisaka, President of the BLL, as speakers.

On 10th the BLHRRI will organize a workshop on the same topic inviting these four people as well as representatives from a local government, business sector and religious sector in Japan. The workshop focuses on effective elimination of the discrimination, in hope of contributing to the finalization of the draft set of "principles and guidelines" for the effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent, which is the most important task of Special Rapporteurs of the Sub-Commission.

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