The United Nations does not seek a world cut after a single pattern, nor does it consider this desirable. The United Nations seeks only unity, not uniformity, out of the world’s diversity.
– Ralph Bunche, Nobel Lecture (1950)1
The collection has charted the forces behind the drafting and entry into force of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in 1965, and in the fifty years of its implementation under the aegis of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), its evolution from a narrow focus on colonialism and apartheid to an instrument governing a wide range of groups and themes. The number of ratifications means that the obligations found in the treaty are near-universal in reach. Its provisions at times betray their age but have nevertheless proven very capable of application to contemporary aspects of racial discrimination. The title of this collection has ensured a focus on the treaty as a ‘living instrument’, but this does not always entail dynamic or evolutive interpertation. Complex questions of treaty interpretation coexist with straightforward applications of clear provisions to contemporary situations that confront the Committee. The text of ICERD has not changed since 1965; there are no protocols to the instrument. Its text has proven capable of a remarkable array of applications, and has framed the development of an in-depth corpus of international standards on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination....
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