India Committee of the Netherlands
+++ In solidarity with the oppressed in India +++

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Feb 5, 2019:
Ambassadors join the fight to end caste discrimination (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
A brand new IDSN Ambassadors Group is launched today. The group is made up of several highly distinguished human rights advocates, who will use their knowledge and skills to ensure that caste discrimination never falls off the global human rights agenda.
Dec 12, 2018:
European Parliament calls on the EU to step up action at the UN and delegation levels to eliminate caste-based discrimination (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
IDSN welcomes today’s adoption of the European Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2017 and the European Union’s policy on the matter.
Dec 5, 2017:
Human Rights Defenders at serious risk in India and across the globe (PRESS RELEASE Amnesty International):
People who promote and defend human rights across the globe continue to face an onslaught of harassment, intimidation, unjust prosecution and unlawful detention, Amnesty International said today in its report, Deadly but Preventable Attacks: Killings and Enforced Disappearances of Those who Defend Human Rights.
Dec 21, 2016:
Fabric of Slavery: Large-scale child slavery in Indian spinning mills making yarn for international garment brands (PRESS RELEASE ICN):
New research by the India Committee of Netherlands (ICN) shows that various forms of modern slavery, including child slavery, are found in more than 90% of the spinning mills in South India. These spinning mills produce yarn for India, Bangladeshi and Chinese garment factories that produce for the Western market.
The report Fabric of Slavery exposes the scale on which young girls and women - the majority of which are Dalits or 'outcastes' - are enslaved by employers who withhold their wages or lock them up in company-controlled hostels. They work long hours, face sexual harassment and do not even earn the minimum wage. Gerard Oonk, director of ICN: "We have raised the issue for five years now, but even to us the scale of this problem came as a shock."
Jun 1, 2016:
Infamous NGO Committee excludes human rights defenders from the UN (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
For the 18th time since 2008, the Committee on NGOs has deferred IDSN’s application – the longest pending one of its kind – for UN ECOSOC consultative status. Two more questions from India have yet again delayed the process.
Jun 4, 2014:
UN experts slam India’s child rights policies - UP Govt too under fire (PRESS RELEASE NCDHR) link opent in nieuw venster:
India’s child rights policies came under sharp attack at a crucial meeting of UN experts on 2-3 June in Geneva. The UN Committee on Rights of Child had met to review the progress made under the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its two Optional Protocols in India.
Apr 4, 2014:
‘Small Steps - Big Challenges’ in Tamil Nadu’s textile industry: Garment brands not transparent on tackling bonded labour in India (PRESS RELEASE FNV Mondiaal/ICN):
Most Dutch and international companies importing garments from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu refuse to be transparent about if and how they tackle bonded labour at their suppliers. An estimated 100,000 young children and teenage girls are victims of 'bonded labour' or 'modern slavery'. These girls - mostly Dalit ('outcaste') - live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, underpaid for long working-days and working under unhealthy conditions.
This is an important conclusion of the paper Small Steps, Big Challenges - Update on (tackling) exploitation of girls and young women in the garment supply chain of South India that FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands have just published.
Jun 7, 2013:
Take action to improve conditions for Dalit women (PRESS RELEASE Human Rights Watch/IMADR/Minority Rights Group International/IDSN):
United Nations member states should focus urgent attention and decisive action to improve conditions for Dalit women, four international non-governmental organisations said today. The combination of caste and gender makes millions of Dalit women extremely vulnerable to discrimination and violence, including rape, forced prostitution and modern forms of slavery.
Dec 13, 2012:
European Parliament adopts historic resolution on Dalits (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
A strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination in India was debated and adopted today [Dec 13, 2012] by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Parliament condemned the high number of atrocities committed against Dalits in India and the Indian government’s insufficient action on the issue of caste discrimination.
Jul 18, 2012:
Brands and politicians are starting to act: Bonded (child) labour in Indian garment industry draws global attention (PRESS RELEASE SOMO/ICN):
Recent publications of SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands have significantly contributed to the fact that in Europe, the USA and The Netherlands steps are being taken against the large-scale child labour in the South Indian textile and garment industry. Both a number of garment brands as well as the Dutch, European and American politicians are now starting to take some action against bonded (child) labour in South India which is known as the ‘Sumangali Scheme’.
May 24, 2012:
Dalit rights activists enraged at the failure of Indian delegations to address questions raised at the UN (PRESS RELEASE NCDHR):
Dalit rights activists gathered in Geneva are disappointed at the Indian delegation's immediate response to the real challenges that Dalits face, when India was reviewed at the UN Universal Periodic Review of India on 24 May.
Apr 25, 2012:
Young Dalit women exploited in Indian garment industry: Despite industry's promises, young Dalit women continue to suffer exploitative conditions, reveals new report 'Maid in India' (PRESS RELEASE SOMO/ICN):
European and US garment brands and retailers have failed in their attempts to structurally improve labour conditions at their suppliers in Tamil Nadu, South India. Despite corporate promises and a range of well-meaning initiatives, workers, mostly very young women, continue to suffer exploitative working conditions. Up until today, thousands of women in the garment and textile industry in Tamil Nadu work under recruitment and employment schemes that amount to bonded labour. These are the findings by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) presented in the report Maid in India, published today.
Mar 5, 2012:
Still 'Captured by Cotton'? Despite some improvements, problems persist in the garment supply chain (PRESS RELEASE SOMO/ICN):
Today, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) are presenting a sneak preview of their upcoming report on labour abuses in the South Indian garment industry. The two-pager preview is published on the occasion of a meeting of the Sumangali Bonded Labour group of the UK-based Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI). SOMO and ICN call upon garment brands to take their responsibility to ensure that workers’ rights are respected throughout their supply chain.
Dec 2, 2011:
Urgent Global Call for Action to End Caste Discrimination (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
Activists, members of international organisations, NGOs, Solidarity Networks and researchers from across the world, have launched a landmark Urgent Global Call for Action to Eliminate Caste-Based Discrimination. The call was launched on the 1st December, as an outcome of the International Consultation on Good Practices and Strategies to Eliminate Caste Based Discrimination, held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Jul 1, 2011:
Large majority in Dutch Parliament supports motion to combat caste discrimination: Dalit Network Netherlands pleased about Dutch policy support for 250 million Dalits (PRESS RELEASE DNN):
Yesterday the Dutch Parliament adopted a motion requesting the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue an active approach to combat caste-based discrimination and improving the position of the roughly 250 million Dalits (so-called ‘outcastes’) in South Asian countries like India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
May 20, 2011:
Exploited Dalit Girls Produce Garments in India for European and US Markets - Companies have taken steps, but exploitation remains widespread (MEDIA RELEASE SOMO/ICN):
Big garment brands and retailers have their products made under exploitative and unhealthy conditions by girls in Tamil Nadu, South India. The girls, mostly younger than 18 and from a Dalit (‘outcaste’) background are employed under the Sumangali Scheme. In its worst form, this employment scheme stands for bonded labour, as described in Captured by Cotton, a report published today by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporation (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN).
The report features case studies of four large manufacturers: Eastman Global Clothing Exports, KPR Mill, Bannari Amman, and SSM India. These enterprises produce for Bestseller (e.g. Only, Jack & Jones), C&A, GAP, Diesel, Inditex (e.g. Zara), Marks & Spencer, Primark, Tommy Hilfiger, and many other European and US garment companies. A number of companies have undertaken steps towards the elimination of the Sumangali Scheme, but abusive labour practices remain widespread.
Mar 1, 2011:
MEPs: The EU must act now to help end one of the biggest human rights issues in the world (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
MEPs stated that EU action must be taken to help end caste discrimination, affecting 260 million people worldwide. The statements came during a hearing on caste discrimination in South Asia, at the European Parliament Monday afternoon. This was also the message delivered by Dalit rights advocators at the hearing, who informed MEPs that concerted action to combat caste discrimination through EU development work, trade agreements and political dialogues, must be taken if development goals in caste-affected countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, are to be achieved and human rights respected.
Apr 15, 2010:
National Call to Abolish Untouchability by Indian Dalit- and non-Dalit organizations (PRESS RELEASE E&E Coalition):
Even after 60 years of India’s constitutional rule abolition of untouchability still remains only a pipedream in India. While discrimination based on descent and occupation continues unabated those caste forces that practice untouchability in its varying forms are having a field day in India. It is not enough that the abolition of untouchability is enshrined in the constitution of India. It is of paramount important that the enforcement of related laws are stringently followed so that Dalits in this country can live as citizens with freedom and dignity.
While discrimination based on descent and occupation denies many opportunities to Dalits to come into level playing field the continuing practice of untouchability serves a deathblow to their human psyche that is essential for citizens. Without freedom and dignity no people can be expected to exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities as citizens.
Mar 9, 2010:
Ten years of global struggle against caste discrimination (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
As the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) marks its tenth anniversary, the struggle for Dalit rights is gaining increasing international momentum, including an endorsement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Much, however, remains to be done if one of the world’s most serious human rights issues, which affects 260 million people, is to be eliminated.
Apr 22, 2009:
UN Racism Conference fails to address caste-based discrimination affecting 260 million people (PRESS RELEASE Human Rights Watch/Lutheran World Federation/Pax Romana/International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)/International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN)/National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR)/FORUM-ASIA):
The international community should take action on caste-based discrimination which violates the rights of 260 million people globally, a group of nongovernmental organizations including Human Rights Watch, Lutheran World Federation, Pax Romana, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and FORUM-ASIA, said at a news conference on caste-based discrimination and the Durban Review Conference.
The Durban Review Conference was organized to evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Millions of victims of caste-based discrimination, hoping that the conference would serve as a platform to highlight their problems, were left deeply disappointed.
Apr 20, 2009:
Durban Review Conference: Break the UN silence on caste discrimination (PRESS RELEASE HRW/IDSN/NCDHR):
260 million people worldwide suffer from caste discrimination and are being silenced by the Durban Review Conference, which claims to aim at protecting all victims affected by discrimination and contemporary forms of racism. To break this silence, Human Rights Watch, IDSN, NCDHR and other human rights organizations, have issued a joint position paper calling on the conference to address this crucial issue.
Mar 27, 2009:
European Parliament: Ensure that Dalits benefit from EU-India Free Trade Agreement (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
In a report on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the European Parliament (EP) calls on the European Council and Commission to work together with the Indian Government to move towards ending caste based discrimination, which affects more than 166 million Dalits in India. It urges the EU to ensure that the FTA is not harmful to Dalits and that the potential benefits reach all members of society. According to the EP, this should be part of an ‘ambitious sustainable development chapter’ in the FTA.
Mar 25, 2009:
India must show leadership in combating caste-based discrimination, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
During her first official visits to Nepal and India from 18-24 March, the High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered two historic speeches urging the Government of India to show global leadership in the fight against caste-based discrimination, and calling upon the Government of Nepal to apply existing laws to end such discriminatory practices.
Apr 11, 2008:
India questioned on caste discrimination in the UN (PRESS RELEASE IMADR/NCDHR/IDSN):
On 10 April, the human rights situation of India was scrutinized by the Human Rights Council under the newly established Universal Periodic Review procedure. India was among the first countries up for review.
The Indian delegation presented its report to the Council projecting an image of the human rights situation which according to international and national human rights organisations is a far cry from reality. Broad-based evidence of human rights violations, including the continued discrimination and violence committed against India’s 170 million Dalits, was largely ignored or played down.
May 16, 2007:
Rights Groups Issue Concerns over India Uncontested bid for Re-election to the UN Human Rights Council (PRESS STATEMENT FORUM-ASIA):
In an open letter addressed to Indian prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, several human rights groups, including FORUM-ASIA, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE), South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), Peoples Watch (PW) and others, have demanded that India honour its commitments to human rights while it goes for an uncontested bid for its re-election to the UN Human Rights Council slated for 17 May 2007 at UN General Assembly in New York.
Mar 12, 2007:
India: UN Finds Pervasive Abuse Against Dalits - After Review by UN Anti-Discrimination Body, Government Should Move From Talk to Action (PRESS RELEASE CHR&GJ/IDSN/HRW):
The Indian government should take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of a United Nations committee that found persistent violence and discrimination against Dalits, or so-called “untouchables,” a group of international human rights organizations said today.
The organizations include Human Rights Watch, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, and the International Dalit Solidarity Network.
Feb 21, 2007:
New report Making things worse: Lessons on caste discrimination from post-tsunami relief (MEDIA RELEASE DNN/IDSN):
An in-depth report on caste-based discrimination in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit the coast of Tamil Nadu, India, shows that many providers of recovery programmes unwittingly, carelessly or cynically contributed to a widening divide between caste fishermen and neighbouring Dalit communities. The study, completed over more than a year of research, involved visits to 31 Dalit communities along the Tamil Nadu coast, interviews with stakeholders, and analysis of reports by NGO and media sources.
Feb 13, 2007:
India: Hidden Apartheid of Discrimination Against Dalits: Government Fails to End Caste-Based Segregation and Attacks (PRESS RELEASE HRW/CHR&GJ):
India has systematically failed to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalits, or so-called untouchables, despite laws and policies against caste discrimination, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. More than 165 million Dalits in India are condemned to a lifetime of abuse simply because of their caste.
Dec 19, 2006:
European Parliament: India must get rid of caste discrimination (MEDIA RELEASE IDSN):
A resolution was adopted today by the Committee on Development of the European Parliament urging the Government of India to stop the violence against Dalits (formerly called ‘Untouchables’) and the widespread practices of untouchability. The Committee expressed its concern about the recurring refusal by the police to register and pursue cases of crimes committed against Dalits and the dismally low number of convictions of perpetrators for crimes against Dalits.
Nov 24, 2006:
"We want to transform our pain to power": International Conference seeks urgent action on discrimination and violence against Dalit women (PRESS RELEASE IDSN):
Dalit women from South Asia are determined to "transform their pain into power". That was the main message of the two day international conference held in The Hague on the 20th and 21st of November 2006. It was the first international conference to discuss the issues of discrimination and violence against more than 100 million Dalit women. In The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit women the participants urged the governments of Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as the international community to support their struggle.
Mar 20, 2006:
Caste-affected states do not reply to UN survey (MEDIA RELEASE IDSN):
The UN’s top investigators into caste discrimination have revealed their disappointment in the lack of response to their inquiry on the part of the most heavily affected countries. Whilst a number of states relatively untouched by the problem have responded to their request for information, along with numerous NGOs representing the low-caste communities, other states have chosen to ignore both the problem and the UN’s study on the matter.
Nov 22, 2005:
UK Government to raise Caste Discrimination Internationally (PRESS RELEASE Dalit Solidarity Network (UK)):
The UK Government is committed to raising all forms of discrimination at an international level, including that of caste or untouchability. This was affirmed by Douglas Alexander, Foreign Office Minister of State, in the first formal debate on caste discrimination in the British Parliament held today. He outlined a number of ways in which the Government will take this forward, including more detailed monitoring of UK aid programmes, further discussions with EU colleagues about the human rights agenda to be raised with India before the end of the UK Presidency and more encouragement to the UN to forge ahead with its three-year study of caste discrimination.
Sep 4, 2005:
Press release and report on Dalit Houses Burnt Down in Haryana (PRESS RELEASE National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights):
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) condemns the looting and burning of Dalit houses at Gohana in Haryana. An NCDHR delegation comprising Mr. N. Paul Divakar, Dr. Vimal Thorat, Dr. Umakant and Ms. Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD met Mr. Ahmad Patel, the Political Advisor to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the President of Indian National Congress, on 3 September in New Delhi and apprised him about the situation in Gohana. Later on a meeting with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Ms. Selja, the Union Minister for Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation along with Mr. Ahmad Patel was also arranged wherein the aforesaid delegation urged Mrs. Gandhi to ensure justice for the helpless Dalits.
Aug 11, 2005:
Caste Discrimination Root Cause of Conflict in Nepal (PRESS RELEASE CHRSJ):
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) condemns the looting and burning of Dalit houses at Gohana in Haryana. An NCDHR delegation comprising Mr. N. Paul Divakar, Dr. Vimal Thorat, Dr. Umakant and Ms. Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD met Mr. Ahmad Patel, the Political Advisor to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the President of Indian National Congress, on 3 September in New Delhi and apprised him about the situation in Gohana. Later on a meeting with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Ms. Selja, the Union Minister for Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation along with Mr. Ahmad Patel was also arranged wherein the aforesaid delegation urged Mrs. Gandhi to ensure justice for the helpless Dalits.
Jun 23, 2005:
Press release on Reservation in Private Sector (PRESS RELEASE National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights):
An NCDHR Team met Ms. Meira Kumar, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment on 22 June 2005 in New Delhi in order to brief the Minister on the need for promulgation of a Central Legislation for Reservation in Private Sector. The NCDHR team emphasised that in the Indian society the exclusion and discrimination faced by Dalits is part of the societal norms which has continued even in this age of information technology. In the absence of a Legislation, any promise of welfare measures by the Corporate sector would remain meaningless.
Jun 21, 2005:
Report demands UK companies act on caste discrimination (PRESS RELEASE Dalit Solidarity Network (UK)):
A report launched yesterday at the AGM of the Dalit Solidarity Network (UK) urges UK companies currently outsourcing to India to address the crucial issue of caste discrimination. The introduction by DSN Chair Revd David Haslam and the former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe draws parallels with investment in South Africa during the apartheid hears. It says if there is a discriminatory system, unless there is active intervention then investors are inevitably contributing to such a system. Rodney Bickerstaffe said ‘This is an issue which all UK companies operating in South Asia should address, and the trades unions active in those companies should be pressing them to do so’.
Apr 19, 2005:
Dalits break through UN wall of silence on caste (MEDIA RELEASE IDSN):
The UN Commission on Human Rights today adopted by consensus a decision to appoint two Special Rapporteurs to tackle the entrenched problem of caste-based discrimination. The Commission was endorsing an earlier decision taken by its Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the problem and find solutions for its eradication. This is the first time a political body of the UN has referred directly to the problem, and the decision is seen as a crucial step in the campaign for justice for South Asia’s Dalits (formerly known as ‘untouchables’) and communities suffering from similar forms of discrimination around the world.
Jan 11, 2005:
Dalits face severe discrimination in India's tsunami relief efforts (MEDIA RELEASE IDSN):
Dalits affected by the tsunamis in India now face severe discrimination in relief and rehabilitation efforts. Many Dalits, or so-called untouchables, have lost their lives, their villages, and all means of livelihood.
NGO and news reports from the affected areas reveal that members of the higher-caste fishing communities are barring Dalit entry into relief camps or forcibly expelling them from their only place of refuge. The government has also denied Dalits equal relief. Government officials have, for instance, refused to provide water, food and shelter alongside fishing communities in Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu. Registration of missing and deceased Dalits by officials hardly takes place and ex-gratia payments to the kin of deceased have not been provided. In Tarangambadi district, Tamil Nadu, camps have been segregated along caste lines as a result of this discrimination.
Nov 5, 2004:
EU-India Summit: Human Rights must be on the agenda! (PRESS RELEASE FIDH/OMCT/IDSN):
The EU-India Summit to be held on November 8 in The Hague is supposed to be the starting point of an unprecedented strategic partnership between the EU and India. They will cooperate on trade, research, development, counter-terrorism, shipping, regional concerns, conflict resolution, the environment and space exploration. But will they mention human rights, or will that prove too sensitive a topic for these new best-of-friends?
Oct 20, 2004:
Start of campaign 'Stop Caste Discrimination - Support the Dalits' (MEDIA RELEASE DNN):
During the opening conference of the Dalit network Netherlands campaign 'Stop Caste Discrimination - Support the Dalits' on 9 October 2004 the human rights Ambassador of The Netherlands, Mr. Piet de Klerk, stated: "The violation of the rights of the in total 260 million outcastes in Asia and Africa is an international human rights problem. The Netherlands cares about the plight of the Dalits. Offering equal opportunities for outcastes, tribals and minorities is one of the main objectives The Netherlands is pursuing in the international context."
The speech of Ambassador De Klerk comes at a time while The Netherlands is chairing the European Union and is preparing the EU-India Summit on 8 November 2004, to be held in The Netherlands.
May 14, 2004:
Press Release of National Dalit NGO Federation, Nepal (PRESS RELEASE National Dalit NGO Federation):
After the Royal step of October 4, 2002, there is still political crisis in the Kingdom of Nepal. Since then, two prime ministers have been changed so far and country is in the process of looking for the third prime minister. On behalf of more than 4.5 million Dalits, who are laborious, rich in arts, skills and social architecture have been suffering from discrimination based on caste and analogous system, we would like to raise our voice against this. We do not feel to repeat the fact that the umbrella organisation of more than 200 such Dalit Organisations are always in favour of democracy, human rights and social equality.
Apr 26, 2004:
Dutch government criticises India on caste discrimination and Gujarat - India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) urges for human rights dialogue at EU-India Summit in October (PRESS RELEASE ICN):
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, Dr. B.R. Bot has expressed his concern about caste discrimination and has criticised the Indian government on the present situation in Gujarat. He did this in response to a letter on these issues sent by eight Dutch NGO's, including the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN).
Jan 12, 2004:
India's Dalits take to the road to raise awareness of 'hidden apartheid' (PRESS RELEASE Minority Rights Group):
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, Dr. B.R. Bot has expressed his concern about caste discrimination and has criticised the Indian government on the present situation in Gujarat. He did this in response to a letter on these issues sent by eight Dutch NGO's, including the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN).
Aug 22, 2002:
The global dimensions of discrimination based on 'caste and analogous systems of inherited status' addressed in historic UN decisions (PRESS STATEMENT International Dalit Solidarity Network):
Yesterday, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) adopted an historic document focusing on discrimination based on 'caste and analogous systems of inherited status'. The adoption of this document - called a General Recommendation - follows a thematic discussion convened by CERD on 8-9 August, in which the global dimensions of caste discrimination and similar forms of social hierarchy were confronted and challenged.