December 16, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus to the 3rd Committee Mr. Demetris Hadjiargyrou on Elimination of Racism and Racial Discrimination

My delegation has already aligned itself with the statement made by the delegation of Finland on behalf of the European Union on items 114 and 115. I will, therefore, briefly touch upon a few issues in relation to agenda item 114, which my delegation considers to be of particular importance.

Mr. Chairman,

The struggle against racism and racial discrimination is today more relevant than ever. As we have witnessed repeatedly over the last decade, the ugly phenomenon of ethnic and religious intolerance has been aptly demonstrated in many parts of the world. Its results have been shocking. At the threshold of the 21st century, in a world populated by more than six billion human beings, characterized by the increased pace of globalization, both in terms of economics and migration – legal and illegal – the dangers posed to our societies by intolerance in any form must not be underestimated. It is, therefore, imperative that the international community, seriously address the issue with determination and perseverance.

The actions of us all must be centered on a common approach that can only be elaborated and implemented through the only truly global forum, that of the United Nations. It is for this reason that Cyprus has always strongly supported effective action by the United Nations. In this respect, my delegation welcomes the Secretary-General’s reports and the initiatives undertaken by the United Nations, most notably the convening of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance to take place no later than the year 2001. My delegation also expresses its appreciation to the Special Rapporteurs of the Commission of Human Rights and the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights for their substantial contributions to the debate on this item. I would also like to reiterate my delegation’s support to the work carried out by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Turning to the upcoming World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance, it is my delegation’s belief that this event represents a good opportunity to give new impetus to the world-wide efforts to combat all forms of intolerance. Special attention should be given to the new challenges that have appeared and ways should be explored for a preventive approach to fighting racism. We believe that in this effort, universal ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination should be made a top priority and attention should be drawn to the model legislation drawn by the United Nations to fight racism and intolerance. The role of non-governmental organizations in producing practical solutions and assisting governments in implementing various programmes is also very important.

 

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus was one of the first states to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. My country is also one of the few states to have made the declaration under Article 14 of the Convention. We have also ratified the amendment to Article 8, paragraph 6 of the Convention. Our 15th periodic report is in its final stage of preparation and will be submitted to CERD shortly.

In our efforts to reach full conformity with the Convention and taking note of the suggestions of CERD, we have reviewed and amended the legal framework on the protection of refugees and displaced persons regardless of ethnic origin, as well as, the procedure for acquiring Cypriot citizenship. Furthermore, we have established various institutions to facilitate the implementation of the Convention and strengthened our channels of cooperation with non-governmental organizations.

In the field of education, which we regard as the most important means of eliminating indirect and structural forms of racial discrimination, we have reinforced academic curricula and instituted programs on human rights with a view to further developing the respect of all human beings and peoples, irrespective of their language, race, color or religion and promoting the spirit of tolerance, acceptance and cooperation. Cyprus places special attention to the education programs of the children belonging to minorities through a system of subsidies to assist them in their particular needs. In addition we have established language programs for children of immigrants, as well as, training programs for civil servants on the provisions of the Convention and the launching of information campaigns which improve public awareness on the Convention and publicize the existence of all legal and administrative remedies. In this respect, the Cyprus Youth Board has been actively participating since 1994 in the European Campaign Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance.

Cyprus, which is still coping with the effects of the Turkish invasion in 1974 which has de facto separated its people with a deliberate policy of ethnically cleansing the occupied area of its Greek-Cypriot inhabitants, has been one of the first states to ratify The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Due to the policy of the occupying power, we are prevented from enforcing its provisions to the entire country, a fact which has been duly underlined by CERD in its report contained in document A/53/18. In it, the Committee expresses “grave concern at the lengthy occupation of 37% of the territory of Cyprus by Turkish forces and the continued division of the country, and that the Government is still prevented, by the use of force, from implementing the provisions of the Convention in the country since the invasion of 1974.” It further states “that the continuing artificial division of the country has adversely affected efforts to reduce tension among the various ethnic and religious communities which comprise the population” and expresses its concern, in para. 339, “at the insufficient information on the demographic composition of the occupied part of Cyprus…”

 

Mr. Chairman,

The consensus that guided the United Nations in the adoption of Three Decades for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination has resulted in many positive developments although recent events and the resurrection of racial prejudice, racism and xenophobia, even in cultures and states considered beyond that stage, is a clear indication that we need to intensify national and international efforts to combat their manifestation. The United Nations provides the framework for this. It is up to us all, governments and citizens alike to assure its success.