COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
278. The Committee considered
the combined eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of the Holy See
(CERD/C/226/Add.6) at its 991st and 992nd meetings, held on 5 August
279. The representative
of the State party who introduced the report emphasized that the
Catholic Church's categorical rejection of racial discrimination
was enshrined in basic documents such as the 1983 Code of Canon
Law, the main legislative document of the Latin Church, and more
recently, the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches.
280. The representative
also referred to the many initiatives taken by the Church in support
of victims of discrimination, such as indigenous peoples, minorities,
displaced persons and refugees, and to the work of the Pontifical
Council on migrants and displaced persons and Catholic aid agencies.
He also mentioned the Catholic Church's concern at the emergence
of new forms of racism and xenophobia, with particular reference
to Europe and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia,
as well as to the situation in Palestine and in South Africa.
281. The representative
also pointed out that in view of the religious dimension of many
conflict situations, efforts had been undertaken to promote dialogue
between religions through the Pontifical Commission for religious
relations with Judaism and the Pontifical Commission for religious
relations with Muslims.
282. In addition, the
representative drew attention to the contents of the document entitled
"The Church confronted with racism - for a more brotherly society",
published in 1989 by the Pontifical Council, which addressed various
issues of racism and offered guidance in promoting brotherhood and
solidarity between races. In that connection, he indicated that
in order to eliminate racist behaviour of whatever kind from society
it was necessary to have a firm conviction of the dignity of every
human being and the unity of the human family, and that the major
contribution of the Holy See in meeting its obligations under the
Convention lay in its capacity to educate individuals' consciences
to contribute to attenuating the conflicts and divisions between
races and ethnic groups.
283. Members of the
Committee expressed their gratitude to the State party's representative
for the detailed information he provided orally. They sought information,
in general, as to the role played by the State party and the Catholic
Church, particularly through its presence at the grass-roots level,
in contributing to the realization of the principles and provisions
laid down in the Convention.
284. Members of the
Committee, emphasizing the importance of developing greater understanding,
openness and tolerance between all religions, requested information
on the actions taken by the State party to promote dialogue between
different churches and religions and the peaceful coexistence of
faiths. Members of the Committee also expressed concern at and sought
clarification of the practice of the Catholic Church that required
children of mixed-faith marriages to be brought up according to
the Catholic faith.
285. Members of the
Committee wished to receive further information on the activities
undertaken by the State party to support United Nations efforts
and actions to combat racism and racial discrimination.
286. In respect of article
2 of the Convention, members of the Committee requested information
on the measures taken to encourage multiracial organizations and
287. With regard to
article 3 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to
receive further information on the State party's position on apartheid.
288. In connection with
article 6 of the Convention, members requested further information
on the work undertaken by the Catholic Church in support of victims
of discrimination in different geographical regions.
289. In respect of article
7 of the Convention, further information was sought on the educational
and institutional measures taken by the Holy See and the Catholic
Church to combat racial prejudice and to persuade people to live
harmoniously together. Equally, members of the Committee requested
the State party to provide details of the breakdown by ethnic or
racial origin of pupils in Catholic schools, as well as information
on efforts undertaken to promote educational opportunities in Catholic
schools for the most disadvantaged groups in society.
290. In connection with
article 11 of the Convention, it was asked whether the State party
might consider taking action under the provisions of that article.
291. In reply to the
various questions raised and comments made by members of the Committee,
the representative of the State party provided information on the
efforts undertaken by the Holy See and the Catholic Church to address
injustices and to combat discrimination. He indicated that those
activities were often conducted through the Church's work with the
most disadvantaged groups in society, who were most likely to suffer
discrimination on account of their ethnicity and poverty. Mention
was also made of the activities of the Catholic Church, particularly
within Latin America, to fight injustice resulting from poverty.
292. The representative
informed the Committee of the action being taken by the Holy See
to promote inter-religious dialogue with Judaism and Islam and inter-church
dialogue in Eastern Europe with the Moscow patriarchy. He also emphasized
the importance accorded by the State party to respect for minorities
and the principles laid down in international instruments on human
rights and international humanitarian law. In that connection, he
provided information about the action taken by the Holy See to address
concerns raised within the framework of the conflict situation in
the former Yugoslavia.
293. Concerning article
3 of the Convention, the representative stressed that Catholic institutions
based in the country which officially practised apartheid not only
taught about coexistence between the races, but also encouraged
294. In respect of article
6 of the Convention, the representative outlined activities undertaken
to protect persons suffering from discrimination. In that regard,
mention was made of the work of the local Catholic Church in German
communities in the service of refugees. In the context of Latin
America, details were given of the Church's work with local indigenous
communities. The representative indicated that the State party's
next periodic report would contain further information on the work
undertaken by the Catholic Church in different countries in Africa
295. With regard to
article 7 of the Convention, the representative explained that the
principle of non-discrimination was an essential element of the
teaching in Catholic educational establishments and of the Catholic
Church at all levels of society. Statistics on the provision of
education in Catholic schools for the most disadvantaged groups
in society were not available at the current time.
296. At its 1007th meeting,
held on 17 August 1993, the Committee adopted the following concluding
297. The Committee welcomed
the information contained in the reports and the additional information
presented orally. The Committee expressed its appreciation to the
representatives of the State party for their cooperation and efforts
to reply to many of the questions raised and was of the view that
the dialogue with the State party was particularly useful.
(b) Positive aspects
298. The Committee welcomed
the State party's recognition of the very important role the Holy
See and the national Catholic Churches could play throughout the
world to achieve the aims and objectives of the Convention. The
Committee also appreciated the readiness expressed by the State
party to foster tolerance and non-discriminatory attitudes, and
to counter racial discrimination.
(c) Factors and difficulties
impeding the application of the Convention
299. The Committee recognized
that the exceptional nature of the status of the State party determined
the directness of the measures it could take to implement fully
the provisions of the Convention.
(d) Principal subjects
300. The Committee noted
the absence of concrete information in the report of the State party
on the practical activities it had undertaken to implement the provisions
of the Convention, particularly article 7.
(e) Suggestions and
301. The Committee recommends
that the next report to be submitted to it should contain further
information on the practical activities undertaken and policies
pursued by the Holy See for the implementation of the provisions
of the Convention in different geographical regions of the world.
The Committee also wished to receive further information on the
practical activities being undertaken by the State party to support
United Nations action against racism and racial discrimination and
to defend victims of racism. Information on the proportion of ethnic
groups and races educated in Catholic schools set in multiethnic
societies would be welcomed by the Committee.
302. In addition, the
Committee wished to receive information on the efforts the State
party intended to undertake to encourage the establishment and work
of multiracial movements throughout the world.
303. Given that educational
activities were one of the most important means of fighting against
racial prejudice and for harmony between different groups, the Committee
recommended that further efforts of the State party should be focused
on the implementation of article 7 of the Convention and that the
State party should undertake further measures to promote equality
of educational opportunities.
304. The Committee,
noting the important religious factor prevalent in many situations
of ethnic conflict, recommended that the State party should become
more active in conflict prevention and resolution efforts. It also
recommended that the State party, wherever possible, should undertake
further measures to promote inter-religious dialogue, especially
in ethnic conflict situations displaying a religious component,
and should try to exercise an ameliorating effect in that respect.
305. In view of the
moral influence wielded by the Holy See and the national Catholic
churches, the Committee also suggested that the State party should
take a more active stance against unjust systems which had the effect
of fostering racist attitudes, as well as against any tendency towards
racism and xenophobia which might develop in national societies.