Non-government bodies to make up large portion of Ethnic Relations Commission

Stabroek News
April 8, 2001

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will make up a large portion of the membership of the Ethnic Relations Commission in keeping with the vision of giving civic society real influence over social issues.

NGOs have complained that for many years they have been marginalised from playing any meaningful role in the non-economic issues of the nation. Their incorporation into new parliamentary institutions is seen as an effort to harness their knowledge and expertise. Other commissions, such as those for Human Rights, Indigenous Women, Women and Gender Equality, and the Rights of the Child, all require members to come from relevant NGOs and to share members amongst each other.

The Ethnic Relations Commission is the nearest to coming into existence with legislation for its establishment already passed. Its purpose in part is "to provide for equality of opportunity between persons of ethnic groups and to promote harmony and good relations between such persons; promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity; ...investigate complaints of racial discrimination and make recommendations on the measures to be taken if such complaints are valid; ...promote equal access by persons of all ethnic groups to all public or other services and facilities provided by the government or other bodies..."

The commission shall consist of:

"Not less than five nor more than 15 members nominated by entities by a consensual mechanism determined by the National Assembly including entities representative of religious bodies, the labour movement, private business sector, youth and women, after the entities are determined by the votes of not less than two thirds of all elected members of the National Assembly."

The members of the commission, which will also establish a secretariat with officers and employees, will elect the chairperson and deputy chairperson.