The International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination 1966 (ICERD) is a United Nations human rights treaty. ICERD was adopted and opened for signature and ratification by General Assembly Resolution 2106 (XX) on 21 December 1965 and entered into force on 4 January 1969.
Under the Convention, state parties commit to eliminating racial discrimination and to promoting racial equality. The Convention expands upon the principles of dignity and inherent equality of all human beings which the United Nations Charter is based on. The Convention also condemns colonialism, segregation and discrimination based on race in any form.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is the United Nations body of independent experts which monitors the implementation of the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1966 (ICERD) by state parties. State parties are required to submit regular reports to the Committee. Individuals and groups can make individual petitions to the Committee if they allege the Convention has been violated.
Over 186 countries have ratified the Convention. Australia ratified the Convention on 30 September 1975. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) incorporated the Convention into Australian law. In ratifying ICERD, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) criminalised racial discrimination based on race, colour, descent and national or ethnic origin and held all persons had a legal right to equality before the law (Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), ss9 & 10).
The Convention promotes substantive rather than formal racial equality. This means that the Convention recognises that to promote substantial equality affirmative action or other different treatment may be required to attain a result which 'establishes an equilibrium between different situations' (Triggs, 1999).