Descent-based discrimination in international law: a legal history.

Keane, David (2005) Descent-based discrimination in international law: a legal history. International Journal on Minority and Group Rights (12) . pp. 93-116. ISSN 1385-4879 [Article] (doi:10.1163/1571811053890371)


The word 'caste' does not appear in any international treaty. Consequently when increasingly vocal Dalit human rights organisations began successfully highlighting the widespread discrimination on the basis of caste still taking place in India and other areas of South Asia, and the failure of domestic policies to tackle the issue, there was a need to find a precise source of international legal obligations for the eradication of caste-based discrimination. That source is Article 1(1) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and in particular the word 'descent', one of the five grounds listed in the definition of racial discrimination. Caste-based discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination confirmed in a series of Concluding Observations beginning with India's State Report in 1996, is a form of descent-based discrimination and thus a form of racial discrimination, and falls within the purview of the Convention.

The article traces the legal history of the word 'descent', from its inclusion in the ICERD to the 1950 Indian Constitution. What emerges is an entirely different meaning from that put forward in 1996.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 4687
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dr David Keane
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2010 13:30
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:18

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