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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 1531st MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 9 August 2002, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. DIACONU
1. The CHAIRMAN invited Committee members to present their comments in response to the informal discussion with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and States parties that had taken place the previous afternoon.
2. Mr. ABOUL-NASR said that most speakers had focused either on caste systems or on a critique of European countries, with emphasis on the problems experienced by developing countries as a result of slavery and colonialism. He had wondered whether invitations to the thematic discussion had been sent to all NGOs with consultative status in the Economic and Social Council, and, having looked into the matter, discovered that they had not. He would be interested to know who had prepared the invitation list, and on what basis. The NGOs in attendance predominantly represented one group.
3. He strongly disagreed with the interpretation of the term “descent” to mean merely “caste”, an important aspect of descent but surely not the sum of it. He also disapproved of the discussion of the definition of the term “descent” in the internal note prepared by the Secretariat for the purpose of the thematic discussion, contained in paragraph 7 of document CERD/C/60/Misc.13. He questioned whether a discussion of descent should ignore the headlines of the day’s papers, such as, for example, Mr. Sharon’s proposal that Palestinians should be removed from Israel, or a decision of the Australian courts on the matter of Aboriginal rights. It was not acceptable for the Committee to limit its discussion of descent to the problem of caste in India and in several African countries.
34. Mr. AMIR said that it was important not to focus on the problems in one country, which might imply that a particular set of problems was peculiar to that country and therefore insignificant in a wider context. The question of how far back one should trace one’s lineage in order to define one’s identity was certainly a knotty one; accordingly, to avoid sterile theoretical debate, it might be wiser to concentrate on grave injustices in the world today, such as the plight of the Palestinians, who were being subjected to flagrant discrimination and oppression on a daily basis.