In Paragraph 17 of its concluding observations, the Committee states:
The Committee recommends that the State party develop and adopt a detailed action plan, with targets and monitoring procedures, in consultation with minority and ethnic groups, for tackling race inequality as an integral part of the Equality Strategy, or separately provide an action plan for an effective race equality strategy. Despite recommendations from CERD and UK based NGOs in their previous (2011) shadow report, the Government has not developed a race equality strategy, stating instead its preference for broad integration strategies. We are concerned that the Government’s submission to the Committee reflects an approach that fails to conform to domestic and international legislation (notably ICERD), and shows little evidence of actually responding to racial inequalities.
The Government, in its report to the Committee states that their “approach to tackling the challenges posed by racial inequality and discrimination in England is […] not based on singling out individual ethnic groups, but instead on promoting socio-economic Integration with support from our Equality and Social Mobility Strategies.”7 We argue that this approach fails to recognise how policy can unintentionally increase racial inequalities through indirect discrimination. The question is not whether government deliberately makes BME people worse off, but rather whether the effects of policies, directly or indirectly, increase racial inequality in reality.
Our shadow report comprises many examples of how the Government’s approach of choosing not to target the known distinct experiences of specific racial groups in fighting inequalities itself can have a discriminatory effect. As a result we believe that the Government is often in breach of its obligations under article 1 of ICERD, which defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life” (emphasis added).
This approach by the Government was exemplified through the publication in 2012 of Creating the Conditions for Integration, a document presented as equivalent to a race equality strategy.8 However this strategy was criticised by 19 race equality organisations, stating that the document did “little to address the persistent inequalities that exist across the nation.” There was also a notable lack of consultation with BME organisations when the government put its integration strategy together.9 Although the Government has recently suggested a notable shift in directly addressing race in various reviews on employment, criminal justice and other areas, this does not yet constitute a strategy. We welcome this shift in orientation, and look forward to any clear objective and targets once these various reviews are completed.
The Scottish Government published its Race Equality Statement for 2008-2011 in December 2008.10 This has been refreshed in March 2016 with the Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030.11 The framework has been developed in collaboration with race equality organisations and has incorporated engagement and feedback from BME individuals, community representatives, stakeholders, and practitioners. The framework addresses issues surrounding community cohesion, community safety and justice, participation and representation in public life, education, employment, income, health, housing, and family life. The five-year gap between the statement and the framework is troublesome, as it is indicative of a time in which the Scottish Government and its stakeholders did not have a strategic plan in place to address race inequality.12 In many respects Wales shows a strong commitment to promoting equality. However, race equality is often overlooked in decision and policy making within the Welsh Government and local authorities, especially where difficult budget decisions need to be made.13