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Singapore submits first report to UN on international treaty

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Report explains how racism is fought here

Singapore has submitted its first report to the United Nations on an international treaty that condemns racial discrimination of all stripes, and highlighted various measures which the Republic has been working on to end such discrimination.

This report is a requirement for all states party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which Singapore signed in October 2015 and ratified in November last year.

In its submission, the Republic highlighted six areas in which it is working to end racial discrimination - and the concrete measures it is taking. These include legislation to safeguard racial and religious harmony, policies to foster social integration and programmes that mobilise community work for the common good.

"Racial harmony in Singapore did not come about by chance. People naturally keep to those who are of the same race as they are," said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu in a foreword to the report.

"It (racial harmony) is the result of hard work and conscious effort by our founding fathers, who sought to forge unity among disparate ethnic communities. Generations thereafter have taken over the mantle, putting in place policies that strengthened social cohesion and gradually built trust over time."

She added: "Singaporeans understand that the maintenance of racial harmony is a constant work in progress, which should never be taken for granted."

The Government consulted youth, academics, religious and community leaders, as well as civil society groups in preparing Singapore's ICERD report.

The six key areas highlighted are:

  • Upholding equality and meritocracy
  • Supporting the efforts of each group to uplift their own community while contributing to the common good
  • Implementing policies to facilitate integration and grow the common space
  • Ensuring minority interests are represented and supported
  • Promoting shared norms, mutual respect and support for racial and religious diversity
  • Partnering with the community to enhance racial and religious harmony on the ground.

Concrete measures taken as part of these efforts include ethnic-based self-help groups to provide community support, and the Ethnic Integration Policy in public housing to prevent racial enclaves forming.

In about a year's time, Singapore will also meet the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a global body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the ICERD, for an oral presentation to discuss the measures in the report.

There are currently 88 countries that have signed the ICERD.

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