International Treaties on Migration and Racial Discrimination


Treaties chosen-
1. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Samantha Bacci)
2. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families- Case study on a family (Louisa Bailey)
3. Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice (Suzannah Baker)
4. Convention against Discrimination in Education (Georgia Bailey)

Interview with Brian Bailey; a true migration story

1. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Overview: aa_hands.jpg

This treaty, also known as ICERD or more generally CERD(which came into force in 1969), is an global treaty intended to protect individuals from all forms of racial discrimination based on race, colour, or nation or ethnic origin, whether it be intentional or the result of outwardly unbiased policies. Countries must guarantee everyone’s impartiality before the law, and diverse political, civil and economic, social and cultural rights. The convention does not make any explicit discrimination against women in the circumstance of race discrimination and recognises that confirmatory action may be taken. Its main goal is to examine the progress towards the accomplishment of the Convention in the countries that have approved the Convention. After a country formally accepts one of the treaties, it is an obligation to present frequent periodic reports monitoring the compliance with the treaties responsibilities.
The US Human rights Networks main duties are to reinforce and build the actions of domestic human rights in order to administer the government under its international legal obligations. CERD is basically intended to ensure management and coordination among domestic civil society groups in the CERD. Another goal of CERD is to demonstrate the success of using an international human rights practice. The international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination also attempts to educate the public as well as an extensive assortment of organisations about human rights.

For further information regarding this treaty, visit: on 26th July, 8th august)

Relation to Migration and Racial Discrimination:

This treaty is vital to all individuals who are seeking to migrate to Australia or who have already migrated to feel free and equal of racial discrimination. This convention also insures that all migrants desiring to make a life in Australia can trust to be safe and reassured and that they are not discriminated against which is demonstrated through the countries signing and abiding by the treaty. This ensures that migrants endure the same rights that all individuals in Australia are permitted too.
ICERD also accepts additional legislation to abolish all forms of racial discrimination against foreigners including children and migrant workers to guarantee no individual feels underprivileged. Each organisation that consents to the convention must defend racial discrimination and take successful measures in order to endorse the freedom of the citizen. Another of CERD’s basic intents is to eliminate the barriers between races and depress any action or practice which in turn tends to strengthen racial separation. Parties who abide by the treaty must also express disapproval of all misinformation that are based on theories of dominance of one certain race or culture, or any orga
nisation who supports and encourages racial hatred and discrimination of any form. All countries that abide by the agreement must forbid any circumstances that involve racial discrimination by any organisation, group or person. Most cases of discrimination against migrants are taken under the jurisdiction or embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Right.


This treaty makes a concerted effort in the development of the convention in many countries to eliminate discrimination against migrants. Along with signing the convention ICERD makes sure the countries who are involved in the treaty make a determined attempt in having responsibilities in order to develop upon the agreement. This ensures that all countries that consent to the convention have equal parts in the success of the human rights process.

  • CERD has encouraged international protection for individuals from all forms of racial discrimination whether it be accidental or impartial.
  • Migrants can come to Australia feeling secure that they will be treated reasonably by the Australians and be free from all racial discrimination including race, colour or ethnic group.
  • Also aims to inform the nation and different organisations about the elimination of racial discrimination against migrants, and to also exhibit the achievement of the treaty.


  • It can be complicated to validate discrimination in many cases due to the diverse political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights.
  • Doesn’t make any clear discrimination rights about women in racial discrimination


2. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families image1.png


The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, was signed on the 18th of December 1990, is an international agreement; the central matters are described in the title. The aim of the agreement is to protect migrant workers and members of their families. It sets a moral standard, and serves as a guide and motivation for the encouragement of migrant rights in each country.

For a list of signatories to the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, click the link below:

Relation to Migration and Racial Discrimination:

The main aim of the treaty is to protect all migrant workers and members of their families. It prevents any sort of discrimination of individuals and helps them when legislation fails (such as family legislation). It particuarly helps the children, as seen in the case below, as it ensures that they are priority in all case matters. It is an International Convention, therefore many countries are involved so it is easier for migrants to understand their rights if they were in this situation due to the similarities between countries.

CASE STUDY: Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v.Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273

Teoh came to Australia got married and applied for permanent residence sponsored by spouse. He was granted a Bridging Visa, and lived in Australia, having 3 kids with his spouse. In 1990 Teoh was convicted of drug trafficking and in 1992, his deportation was orders, but he appealed with the order claiming his wife was an addict and his kids would be in state care if he was deported. Teoh argues under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (the Australian government signed) and about the welfare of the children.

  • Protection of migrants and of the rights of the child
  • Supports the migrants in terms of knowledge of rights and laws
  • Fills gaps where domestic legislation doesn’t
  • The treaty prompts equality and fairness in the area of working in the Australian community, and gives migrants access different forms of support if they are treated unfairly
  • Australia may be less keen to sign for treaties as this one backfired
  • Political problems and negative impacts
  • Can help migrants with escaping criminal offences


3. Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice



Countering racism continues to be forefront work for the United Nations (UN). Through the work of the UN, international laws, or agreements between nations, have

been developed to assist with prejudice against different races. These international laws, called treaties, apply throughout the world. For example when Australia signs a treaty it is bound by an act in accordance with the rules outlined in the treaty. Australia is then a party to a number of anti- racism conventions, which impose obligations on Australia in regard to racism and racial

One treaty in particular is the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice. Adopted and proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at its twentieth session, on 27 November 1978.
This was initiated to express the international community’s aspirations to eliminate racial discrimination and the need for everyone to be treated equally regardless of their racial origin. People historically controlled by foreign powers can then rediscover their own sovereignty and create a better society without racist attitudes prevailing in that society. Regardless of which human group it is, all racial groups can contribute positively to the development of the society within which it is present. Despite UNESCO’S concerns and statements regarding the elimination of racism throughout the world, racism does in fact, still exist in most societies. Government legislation and administration, at times, still remain part of political and social structures which aim to exclude, humiliate and exploit disadvantaged minority groups within the mainstream society. International peace and security are threatened by minority groups within particular societies as they seek to change the existing racist attitudes and laws and prevalent in these societies.

Racial discrimination is linked to migration because potential immigrants are assessed on their nationality and, inadvertently, on their racial background. The history Australia’s immigration policies clearly shows that prevailing racial attitudes have dictated which people are more readily accepted as migrants to this country beginning with the “White Australia” policy and even with the current policy of multiculturalism.

CASE STUDY: Bryant v. Queensland newspapers (1997) unreported HREOC decision, 15 May 1997
(Source: year 11 text book pg 324)

In this case it discusses the complaints of English people as two newspaper articles talk about ‘filthy Poms’ littering local beaches. This is seen as discrimination as the English saw this headline as fostering hatred towards them. The president of HREOC, Sir Ronald Wilson however, did not feel that the article was vilifying just because it was using a common nickname for English people. The rebuttal to this statement was that the name was not used in the right context which therefore represented racial discrimination.

  • In introduction of racial vilification treaties has strengthened the effectiveness of these laws and has sent a message to Australian society that racist attitudes are not acceptable.

  • It is difficult in proving discrimination.
  • Discrimination can occur anywhere e.g. employment, sporting events and school education.
  • Migrants are limited in taking action against discrimination because of language barriers and ignorance of the relevant laws.
  • Slow processing of complaints reduces the impact of legislation. It can take several years for a complaint to be finalized. As a result some migrants feel that it is not worth taking their complaint to the anti discrimination board.
  • The outcome of the complaint may not be what they intended or wanted.


4. Convention against Discrimination in Education


This treaty was adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on December 14, 1960. The treaty was signed and came into force on May 22, 1962.

This treaty came about after recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promotes non-discrimination and promotes that every person has the right, in this case to education.

[The Right to Education]
Migrants also share the Right to a Fair Education

Education is an important and often under catered for right by many nations. It is a right to which is crucial for the promotion of all other human rights as it endorses personal freedom and empowerment of an individual.

The term "education" refers to all types and levels of education and includes access to education, the standard and quality of it and the conditions under which it is given.
Its main aim is to veto any forms of discrimination in education and encourage equality of opportunity and treatment for all, in this case it is migrants who may not be aware of their rights in a foreign country.

Discrimination includes any form of exclusion or limitation which is based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin and economic condition. It is considered discrimination when an individual has been impaired equality of treatment in education, but in particular:
- depriving any person/group access to education of any type or at any level
- limiting any person/group to education of a sub standard level
- establishing or maintaining separate educational systems for persons/groups
- imposing on any person/group of persons conditions which are incompatible with the dignity of man

However, the following points cannot be deemed as discrimination when permitted in a State;

  • The establishment of separate educational systems or institutions for religious or linguistic reasons
  • The establishment of separate educational systems or institutions for pupils of different sexes. These systems have to offer equal access to education, be able to provide teaching staff with qualifications of the same standard and also afford the opportunity to take the same or equivalent courses of study.

For further research visit, 2, Religion and Law Research Consortium

Relation to Migration and Racial Discrimination:

This Convention is important to those who wish to migrate and make a better life for themselves here in Australia. Since Australia has signed this treaty and agreed to its terms, it means that migrants can feel assured that they will be treated fairly in education, in a nation that promotes multiculturalism and integration of different cultures and backgrounds.

This treaty is the reassurance for many choosing to move to Australia because migrants are able to feel that there education needs are best looked out for. The Convention Against Discrimination in Education ensures that all citizens are treated for in the area of education and no one feels alienated, disadvantaged or discriminated against because of their background.
Education is fundamental as it allows migrants to promote their freedom and is crucial for developing as an active citizen. The Adult Migration English Program (AMEP) is just one of the initiatives that Australia has taken on, to make the move for migrants a lot smoother. This program provides English lessons to eligible adult migrants who are not often catered for like children are with the assistance of special schools. This program allows participants to learn about Australia, its customs and the people without having to worry about costs, as the program is free.

CASE STUDY: Newspaper Article from SMH (14th November 2007)

The article outlines that Europe's leading human rights authority ruled that the Czech Republic was practicing racial discrimination in education towards the gypsy children, aka Roma when placing them into remedial educational schools
This breaches the right to be placed into schooling where your limits to education are at a sub standard level, meaning that this was lawfully deemed as discrimination. The case ended with monetary awards given to the children (Roma) for the discrimination incurred. The special schools were also abolished.


  • this such treaty has promoted equality and fairness in the area of education to the Australian community, for migrants who wish to access different forms of education
  • migrants are able to feel confident that they will be able to receive an adequate education in a safe environment, here in Australia, free from any form of discrimination
  • the treaty promotes Australia's ethics and fair values to other countries
  • this treaty along with already established legislation such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwlth) and The Anti Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) make it an offense to discriminate in the area of education. This then means that migrants have the option to prosecute in our courts if they feel discriminated against.

  • it may be difficult in many cases to justify that discrimination in the area of education, has actually occurred
  • fairly new migrants may be limited to fight their case due to language barriers
  • Australian citizens may be unhappy with the ongoing establishment of different language centers for migrants which may result in racist attitudes evolving from the Australian community


International Treaties for migrants that aim to prevent discrimination in a range of areas are substantially effective as they are useful in court cases where there is an absence of domestic legislation, however, discrimination many be impossible to prove.

Our original video may help to convey what actually happens in real life situations, ENJOY!