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Ethnic Relations Commission
66 Peter Rose & Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown, Guyana
Tel. +592-231-6479, 231-6473,
231-6281, 231-6265
Fax: +592-231-6246


AN OVERVIEW OF THE ETHNIC RELATIONS COMMISSION - FROM CONCEPTUALIZATION TO PRESENT

The genesis of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) lies in the Herdmanston Accord which was signed on January 17, 1998 by Mrs. Janet Jagan of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic and Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte of the People’s National Congress. The Accord, brokered by the CARICOM Mission that included Sir Shridath Ramphal, Sir Alistair McIntyre and Sir Henry Forde, sought to provide a peaceful solution to the political impasse that had gripped the country following the December 1997 Regional and General Elections.

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What is the ERC?

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) of Guyana is a Constitutional body established as an undertaking by the Herdmanston Accord and by Constitutional Amendment (#2) Act of 2000 and assented to by H. E. The President on August 11, 2000.

The Commission is headed by Commissioners and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Mrs. Christine King.

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Who does the ERC serve?

The ERC is here to serve all Guyanese and persons living or working in Guyana, including:

Persons who believe they were discriminated against based on their ethnicity

Persons who believe others were discriminated against because of their ethnicity, i.e. the complainant does not have to be the victim

Persons or Agencies wanting to promote harmonious ethnic relations.

Functions of the ERC

Article 212A of the Constitution of Guyana provides for an Ethnic Relations Commission.

Article 212D of the Constitution of Guyana states the functions of the Ethnic Relations Commission which are to:

  1. Provide for equality of opportunity between persons of different ethnic groups and to promote harmony and good relations between such persons;
  2. Promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity;
  3. Discourage and prohibit persons institutions, political parties and associates from indulging in, advocating or promoting discriminatory practices on the ground of ethnicity;
  4. Foster a sense of security among all ethnic groups be encouraging and promoting the understanding, acceptance and tolerance of diversity in all aspects of national life and promoting full participation by all ethnic groups in the social, economic, cultural and political life of the people;
  5. Promote educational and training programmes and research projects which provide for and encourage ethnic peace and harmony;
  6. Encourage and create respect for religious, cultural and other forms of diversity in a plural society;
  7. Promote arbitration, conciliation, mediation and like forms of dispute resolution in order to secure ethnic harmony and peace;
  8. Establish mechanisms and procedures for arbitration, conciliation, mediation and like forms of dispute resolution that would ensure ethnic harmony and peace;
  9. Recommend to the National Assembly criteria to be considered for the purposes of deciding whether any person has committed acts of discrimination on the ground of ethnicity;
  10. Investigate complains of racial discrimination and make recommendations on the measures to be taken if such complaints are valid, and where there is justification therefore refer matters to the Human Rights Commission or other relevant authorities for further action to be taken;
  11. Monitor and review all legislation and all administrative acts or omissions relating to or having implications for ethnic relations and equal opportunities and, from time to time, prepare and submit proposals for revision of such legislation and administrative acts and omissions;
  12. Immediately report to the National Assembly and to all relevant authorities any proposed legislation, which the Constitution thinks, may be contrary to the constitutional provision relating to ethnicity;
  13. Promote equal access by persons of all ethnic groups to all public or other services and facilities provided by the Government or other bodies;
  14. Promote and encourage the acceptance and respect by all segments of the society of the society identity and cultural inheritance of all ethnic groups;
  15. Promote cooperation between all bodies concerned with the fostering of harmonious ethnic relations;
  16. Investigate on its own accord or on request fro the National Assembly or any other body any issues affecting ethnic relations;
  17. Identify any analyse factors inhibiting the attainment of harmonious relations between ethnic groups, particularly barriers to the participation of any ethnic group in social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political endeavours and recommend to the National Assembly other relevant public or private sector bodies how these factors should be overcome;
  18. Monitor and report to the National Assembly on the status and success of implementation of its recommendations;
  19. Study and make recommendations to the National Assembly on any issue relating to ethnic affairs, including conducting studies to determine whether race relations are improving;
  20. Monitor and make recommendations to the National Assembly and other relevant public and private sector bodies on factors inhibiting the development of harmonious relations between ethnic groups and on barriers to the participation of all ethnic groups in the social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political life of the people;
  21. Consult with other bodies and persons to determine and specify the perceived needs of the various ethnic groups for the fostering of harmonious relations;
  22. Train and enlist the aid of such persons and acquire such facilities as the Commission deems necessary to accomplish its functions;
  23. Make recommendations on penalties, including the prevention of any political party or any persons from participating in elections for a specified period, to be imposed for any breach of provisions of this Constitution or of any law dealing with ethnicity;
  24. Do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge if the functions of the Commission.

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[Related link: H. E. The President Bharrat Jagdeo's comments at the Commission's Swearing-in Ceremony on May 2, 2003]
[Related link: The National Assembly/ Parliament of Guyana]
[Related link: The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) 2001; see Guyana's Statement at WCAR; see the Durban Declaration]

 
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