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Caste-based discrimination


WGHR calls upon the Government of India to radically change its international stand on caste-based discrimination and join hands with the international community to firmly address the multiple dimensions of human rights violations, affecting over 200 million people in the country. WGHR also urges India to meet its international legal obligations and Constitutional commitments towards creating a state free of all forms of discrimination.

India’s position on caste at the UN and other international forums has been regrettable, with the government engaging in worthless semantic debates and adopting a stand of denial. India has refused to report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on the issue of caste-based discrimination, despite clear indications by the Committee that caste falls within the ambit of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), ratified by India. General Recommendation 29 (2002) of CERD: “strongly condemns descent-based discrimination, such as discrimination on the basis of caste and analogous systems of inherited status, as a violation of the Convention.” General Comment 20 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, also unequivocally prohibits discrimination on grounds of birth.

In a strong opinion piece, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay made a compelling call, “Like slavery and apartheid, the international community should come together to tear down the barriers of caste too.”

Of particular significance are the 2009 UN Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent. These Guidelines offer preventive and remedial measures for states and other actors to counter caste-based discrimination and protect and uphold human rights. WGHR calls upon India to adopt and champion these Draft Principles at the UN Human Rights Council.

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