How CERD works

What is CERD?

CERD stands for the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and is the United Nations body concerned with racial discrimination. CERD monitors how well governments are promoting race equality and challenging racial discrimination in their countries. CERD examined the UK government in August 2011 and is examining them again in 2016.

All countries have to regularly report on the ways in which they meet the requirements of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). CERD typically meets twice a year in Geneva in March and August to consider these reports, after which it will make recommendations to the government being examined.

What happened in Geneva in August 2011?

The dates of CERD’s examination of the UK Government were Tuesday 23rd August and Wednesday 24th August 2011. The UK Government’s 18th and 19th periodic reports on the measures it has taken to give effect to the convention's objectives to eliminate racial discrimination were submitted in February 2010, and CERD examined this report in August 2011.

During the examination, the government presented its report to CERD, and the committee asked specific questions on the measures the government has taken to combat racial discrimination.

CERD then issued a series of recommendations, known as ‘concluding observations’, and the government will be expected to address these in its future race equality policies.

What is covered by the convention?

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is an international human rights instrument of which the UK is a signatory.

The convention is structured into 25 articles divided into three parts. Part 1 of the convention commits parties to the following key points: the elimination of racial discrimination, segregation and the incitement of racial hatred; the protection of civil, political, economic and social rights for all, without distinction of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin; and education to promote understanding.

Parts 2 and 3 of the convention are more procedural in nature and cover the role of the committee and the ratification, entry into force and amendment of the convention.


A useful publication on CERD...

For more information on the different articles of the convention please see page 2 of the publication produced collaboratively by EHRC and Runnymede From local voices to global audience: Engaging with the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This publication outlines in more detail what CERD is, what is covered by the convention, and the role of the different stakeholders involved in this process. It also features a useful table on page 16 showing the action the government has taken that relates to previous recommendations made by CERD, and a table on page 22 matching the articles of the convention with examples of relevant UK legislation and policy. Throughout the publication definitions for some of the complex terms involved in this process are outlined, and on page 25 there are some useful links you can follow for further information.