"I feel enormously honored" – Interview with Prof. Mehrdad Payandeh
In June 2019, Bucerius Professor Dr. Mehrdad Payandeh was elected by the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The four year term will begin on January 19, 2020. How did this international recognition come about? What is the role of this Committee? And what does this honor personally mean for Professor Payandeh?
What is the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)?
The CERD consists of 18 members, independent experts from all around the world, whose main task is to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in the current 181 signatory states.
You were nominated by the German Federal Government for this position. How did this come about?
Payandeh: "For several years I have been dealing with the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and the legal framework for combating racial discrimination. In this context, I was in contact with the German Institute for Human Rights, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency and the Federal Ministry of Justice. In addition, I participated in a project to strengthen the sensitivity of the judiciary to the areas of racism and discrimination. Based on this background, the Federal Government nominated me for the office."
What exactly are the tasks of your committee and how does it work?
Payandeh: "The committee has various tasks. Its mandate is to monitor compliance by the contracting parties with the Convention against Racism. To this regard, states regularly report on the measures they have taken to implement the Convention and on any other problems. The reports are monitored by non-governmental organizations and then discussed in the Committee with the participation of the relevant state representatives. The Committee also reviews complaints from individuals alleging that a State party has violated their rights under the Convention. Finally, there is the possibility that a State may bring another State before the Committee for a violation of the Convention. Two such proceedings are currently pending. In addition, the Committee is drafting general remarks on relevant issues, including racial profiling."
What does this nomination and election mean for you personally?
Payandeh: "I was very pleased with the nomination and the election because the work of the United Nations is as important to me as is the issue of combating racial discrimination. In this respect, I feel enormously honored to be able to contribute to the work of the Committee, a task to which I look forward to with great curiosity, joy and respect. In addition, I hope to gain insights into the practice of international human rights protection and the work of the United Nations, which in turn will be important for my further research and teaching at Law School."
Bucerius Law School congratulates Professor Mehrdad Payandeh on this honor and international recognition.