(Fifty-fifth session, 1999) *
1. The Committee stresses that, according to the definition given in article 1, paragraph 1, of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention relates to all persons who belong to different races, national or ethnic groups or to indigenous peoples. If the Committee is to secure the proper consideration of the periodic reports of States parties, it is essential that States parties provide as far as possible the Committee with information on the presence within their territory of such groups.
2. It appears from the periodic reports submitted to the Committee under article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and from other information received by the Committee, that a number of States parties recognize the presence on their territory of some national or ethnic groups or indigenous peoples, while disregarding others. Certain criteria should be uniformly applied to all groups, in particular the number of persons concerned, and their being of a race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin different from the majority or from other groups within the population.
3. Some States parties fail to collect data on the ethnic or national origin of their citizens or of other persons living on their territory, but decide at their own discretion which groups constitute ethnic groups or indigenous peoples that are to be recognized and treated as such. The Committee believes that there is an international standard concerning the specific rights of people belonging to such groups, together with generally recognized norms concerning equal rights for all and non-discrimination, including those incorporated in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. At the same time, the Committee draws to the attention of States parties that the application of different criteria in order to determine ethnic groups or indigenous peoples, leading to the recognition of some and refusal to recognize others, may give rise to differing treatment for various groups within a country's population.
4. The Committee recalls General Recommendation IV, which it adopted at its eighth session in 1973, and paragraph 8 of the general guidelines regarding the form and contents of reports to be submitted by States parties under article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention (CERD/C/70/Rev.3), inviting States parties to endeavour to include in their periodic reports relevant information on the demographic composition of their population, in the light of the provisions of article 1 of the Convention, that is, as appropriate, information on race, colour, descent and national or ethnic origin.
* Contained in document A/54/18, annex V.