Understanding ICERD: A fight against racism

By: Nur Izzah Sofea binti Johari


The International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is known by its acronym, ICERD. ICERD was approved by the UN General Assembly in 1965. It seeks to end racial prejudice and advance inter-racial understanding. The agreement provides definitions for racial discrimination and lists countermeasures that nations should implement, such as outlawing discrimination in the workplace, in schools, and when gaining access to public spaces. Member states are required to submit reports on the measures they have taken to implement the convention.

The ratification of ICERD makes it illegal to incite racial discrimination and violence against people based on their race. It also calls for changes to or a thorough examination of current laws, rules, and policies that support racial discrimination. Not only that, but there are also legal protections against discrimination in relation to political rights, employment, housing, education, and public places and amenities, as well as legal enforcement mechanisms against it. Additionally, educational initiatives that promote harmony and tolerance across racial and ethnic groups will be established with the ratification of ICERD. It also addresses the issue of racial discrimination and safeguard the interests of indigenous groups, institutions, and agencies.

As to date, 179 countries have ratified the ICERD excluding Malaysia, Myanmar, Nue, Palau, and North Korea. As racial and religious issues are currently highly contentious and sensitive in Malaysia, it has led to great deal of strain in ratifying the convention. In 2018, a mass demonstration called ‘Anti-ICERD’ was held in Kuala Lumpur as a protest to oppose the plan to ratify ICERD by the government. It is estimated that 55,000 people attended the rally and it has been marked in the history of Malaysia. On 23 November 2018, the government announced that they will not ratify the convention.

Nevertheless, ICERD has been instrumental in the struggle against racial discrimination for more than 60 years and has served as an inspiration for legislation aimed at eradicating racial discrimination in many nations. Even if there are still issues getting all nations to regularly report on their accomplishments, the ICERD is still helping to improve racial equality on a worldwide scale.

Latest News

READ is a department that is responsible for conducting research, developing new insight from any humanitarian issues, processes, project and advocacy for Global Peace Mission Malaysia..
Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Research & Advocacy Development (PPAB-19/2009)