COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
2 – 27 August 1999
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the fourteenth periodic report of Iraq (CERD/C/320/Add.3) at its 1344th
and 1345th meetings (see CERD/C/SR.1344 and 1345), on 9 and 10 August
1999, and adopted, at its 1360th meeting (see CERD/C/SR.1360), on 19
August 1999, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the fourteenth periodic report of the State
party, which submitted only two years after the submission of the previous
report and contains replies to issues raised by the Committee in 1997.
That shows the State party's willingness to maintain a regular dialogue
with the Committee. The Committee further welcomes the supplementary information
provided by the State party in the annexes to the report as well as during
the oral presentation. However, it regrets the limited information provided
with respect to the implementation of some articles of the Convention,
despite the recommendation made in the Committee's previous concluding
observations that the fourteenth report should be a comprehensive one.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
3. The Committee notes the
difficult economic and social situation prevailing in the country as
a result of the war with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Gulf War
the economic sanctions, as well as foreign military incursions in different
areas of the country, which have caused human suffering as well as
destruction of part of the country's basic infrastructure and, ultimately,
have had a negative impact on the full implementation of the human
treaties, including the Convention. The Committee recalls in this respect
that other human rights treaty monitoring bodies, such as the Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (especially in its general
No. 8 (1997)), the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Human
Rights Committee have recognized the adverse consequences of the
sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights by the civilian population
and that, in its decision 1998/114, the Subcommission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities appealed to the international
community, and to the Security Council in particular, for the embargo
provisions affecting the humanitarian situation of the population
to be lifted. The Committee also takes note of a recent report of UNICEF
which describes the tragic situation of children, including the loss
many lives, as a result of the economic sanctions. Those sanctions
also affect the areas inhabited by ethnic groups.
4. The Committee joins the
appeals to the international community and the United Nations, in particular,
the Security Council, for the lifting of those embargo provisions affecting,
in particular, the humanitarian situation of the population of Iraq.
5. The fact that the State's
Central Administration lacks control over the northern governorates,
where large numbers of Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians live, the infighting
between Kurdish factions and foreign military incursions by foreign
powers, hamper the implementation of the Convention by the State party
in that region and makes it difficult for the Committee to exercise
its monitoring functions.
6. Despite all the difficulties
the Committee considers that the Government of Iraq maintains the competence
for the implementation of its obligations under the terms of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
7. It is noted with interest that the State party remains committed to
the declaration of 1970 which recognized the ethnic, cultural and administrative
rights of Kurdish citizens in the areas in which they constituted a majority,
as well as to the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Autonomy Act of 1974 by which
the Autonomous Region was established as a separate administrative unit
endowed with distinct personality. The laws and regulations aiming at
protecting the cultural identity of the Turkoman minority and the Syriac-speaking
community, dating back to the 1970s, are also commended. All those norms
aiming at establishing high standards for the protection of the identity
of the respective groups.
8. The Committee welcomes
the measures taken by the Government of Iraq to clarify the situation
of persons, including foreigners, who disappeared during the Gulf War.
9. The Committee equally
welcomes the fact that an important number of refugees and other foreigners
are received and live in Iraq.
10. It also welcomes the
information from the Government that the internal legal order makes
it possible for individuals to directly invoke the provisions of the
Convention before the courts and that Iraqi legislation contains provisions
prescribing penalties for acts of racial discrimination.
D. Principal subjects of concern
11. Concern is expressed as to whether, in the conditions prevailing in
the northern governorates, members of minorities are able to enjoy the
rights accorded to them by the legislation on autonomy and on cultural
and linguistic rights.
12. Concern is also expressed
over allegations that the non-Arab population living in the Kirkuk and
Khanaquin areas, especially the Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians, have been
subjected by local Iraqi authorities to measures such as forced relocation,
denial of equal access to employment and educational opportunities and
limitations in the exercise of their rights linked to the ownership
of real estate.
13. It is also noted with
concern that the situation prevailing in the northern governorates has
caused much suffering and the forced displacement of a large part of
the population, including for members of ethnic groups living in the
14. Although the Penal Code
contains provisions prohibiting the establishment or membership of any
association, organization or body seeking to incite intercommunal conflict
or provoke feelings of hatred and animosity among the population, such
provisions do not fully reflect the requirements of article 4 of the
E. Suggestions and recommendations
15. The Committee recommends that the State party, in spite of the difficulties,
make all efforts to abide by its obligations under the Convention, as
well as the other international human rights treaties, to respect and
ensure the rights of all persons within its territory.
16. While underlining that
the Government of Iraq retains the competence for the implementation
of the Convention in the northern region, the Committee appeals for
the establishment of a climate of peace and understanding among the
different Kurdish factions and between Kurds and other persons living
in the region. The Committee also appeals to the different States and
forces involved in the region to stop any activities leading to or encouraging
ethnic conflict and intolerance, and contribute to the peace and respect
of human rights of the entire population.
17. Allegations concerning
discrimination against members of ethnic minorities in the Kirkuk and
Khanaquin areas, as mentioned above, should be examined by the State
party. The Committee requests to be informed about the result of such
18. The Committee recommends
that the State party review its legislation in order to make it comply
fully with the requirements of article 4 of the Convention.
19. Measures should be taken
in order to ensure that law enforcement officials receive an effective
training on all matters relating to all aspects of non-discrimination
covered by the Convention.
20. The State party should
include in its next periodic report updated data illustrating the level
of enjoyment by the different ethnic groups of the economic and social
rights enshrined in article 5 of the Convention. It should also provide
information about the following issues: the breakdown of the demographic
composition of the population; statistics reflecting the number of persons
belonging to the different minorities who are employed as civil servants
in the central or local administrations; decisions issued by domestic
courts as a result of complaints of racial discrimination; impact of
the restrictions to the acquisition of real property, taking into account
the composition of the population in the governorate of Baghdad.
21. The Committee also requests
the State party to provide further information about the enjoyment by
members of minorities of the right to freedom of movement and residence
within the country and the right to leave their own country and return
22. The Committee recommends
that the text of the Convention, the periodic report, and the present
concluding observations be made widely available to the public at large,
also in the languages of the minorities.
23. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 during the fourteenth
meeting of State parties to the Convention.
24. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention, and some members of the Committee requested that
the possibility of such a declaration be considered.
25. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, which was due on 13 February
1999, be a comprehensive report, and that it address the matters raised
in the present concluding observations.