Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, has emphasised that Guyana was the main sponsor of the UN Resolution to eliminate racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, denying false claims that the country voted against the resolution.
At the seventy-second session in December 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted its resolution 72/157, entitled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.”
According to the United Nations background page on this resolution, the General Assembly requested that the Human Rights Council continue to pay attention to the situation regarding racial equality in the world.
Furthermore, in this regard, the Assembly requested the Council, through its Advisory Committee, to prepare a study on appropriate ways and means of assessing the situation, while identifying possible gaps and overlaps.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, on Saturday night, Rodrigues-Birkett stated that she was made aware of false information circulating on social media, positing that Guyana voted against this resolution.
“This is completely false and cannot be further from the truth. As Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, I wish to confirm that Guyana voted in support of the resolution when it was adopted in the General Assembly on December 31st, 2020,” the UN Representative stated.
Furthermore, she emphasised, “Indeed, as Chair of G77 and China, Guyana was the main sponsor of the resolution and, jointly with South Africa, facilitated the negotiations for this Resolution in the Third Committee.”
It was noted that the Resolution was introduced by the representative from Guyana in the Third Committee on November 19, 2020, who reminded the Committee that 2021 would mark the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and, as such, the G77 and China had presented substantive changes to the Resolution aimed at commemorating this important milestone.
The Third Committee deals with social, humanitarian and cultural Issues. Based on the original resolution document for Agenda item 70 (b), available on the UN’s website, Guyana presented the revised draft resolution on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77 and China during the seventy-fifth session of the Third Committee.
The statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry noted that the Guyanese representative stated: “The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action emphasizes that equality and non-discrimination are fundamental principles of international human rights and international humanitarian law and are essential in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
Furthermore, it was highlighted that this resolution constitutes a holistic agenda that encompasses measures to improve education and awareness, to fight poverty and marginalization, and to secure inclusive development. And, the relevenace of this resolution was further strengthened by the recognized nexus between combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The G77 and China views the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as a valuable opportunity to enhance public understanding about its comprehensive nature, and as a timely reminder to all that racism, racial discrimination xenophobia and related intolerance are scourges that must be eliminated,” Rodrigues-Birkett stated too.
Importantly, on behalf of the G77 and China, the Representative noted that greater attention should be given to the issues affecting People of African Descent.
“The International Decade for the People of African Descent and the adoption by consensus of the programme of activities for the implementation of the Decade is an integral part of the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action,” she said.
At the end of the statement, Guyana invited delegations to co-sponsor and vote in favour of the resolution.
“It should be noted that the automatic generation of the vote as shown on screen in the room at the time of voting is not the final official record of the meeting,” the statement from the Ministry said, emphasising, “It goes without saying, that Guyana, as the proponent of a Resolution, would not have voted against our own resolution.”