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The 82nd session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) began Feb. 18

Author: 
Compiled by Debora Steel
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
12
Year: 
2013

The 82nd session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) began Feb. 18 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CERD is considering a submission from the International Indian Treaty Council and the Mushkegowuk People of Attawapiskat First Nation. They had filed an Early Warning Action the previous week. The filing states urgent violations of treaties and Aboriginal rights by the Canadian government through the adoption of two omnibus budget bills, Bill C-38 and C-45, passed into law last year without the free prior and informed consent, or any, consultation with Indigenous nations. The filing also addresses two other unresolved issues: the ongoing lack of safe drinking water for First Nations and the critical housing crisis faced by Attawapiskat First Nation. These charges were filed in February 2012 and at that time, CERD required the Canadian government to provide a report within one year as to their “progress and results” in addressing these urgent situations. To date they have failed to do so. Chief Theresa Spence, who went on a 45-day hunger strike in protest of government dealings, explained why Attawapiskat filed the action. She said: “We are giving them the opportunity to correct those actions and move forward in the true spirit and intent of treaty, and they [the Canadian government] cannot even meet us halfway. In fact, they respond to us as though we are committing a criminal act for demanding the fulfillment and implementation of our rights – this is discrimination.” The 18-member CERD is the Treaty Monitoring Body for the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), one of nine legally-binding International Human Rights Treaties within the United Nations system.

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