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UN Principles and Guidelines - towards a legal framework for the elimination of caste discrimination

The draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent is a comprehensive legal framework  developed to eliminate discrimination based on work and descent, the UN terminology for caste discrimination.

> Read the online version of the draft UN Principles and Guidelines or download the full PDF version published by IDSN


The draft UN Principles and Guidelines is the first comprehensive framework to establish measures for effective prevention and elimination of caste discrimination; a massive and systematic human rights violation, affecting the lives of an estimated 260 million people globally.


Based on existing international human rights principles and obligations, the framework proposes general and special measures to be taken by multiple stakeholders. Although still a draft, the UN Principles and Guidelines constitute a strong tool to encourage specific anti-discrimination legislation and relevant policy measures for governments and their agencies, UN and other international agencies, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

The soft law framework is the result of a UN study on discrimination based on work and descent undertaken by the former UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. IDSN has  supported this mandate, which was formally endorsed by the Commission on Human Rights in 2005, by submitting joint civil society inputs and facilitating consultations between the Special Rapporteurs and affected communities, UN agencies and experts in the study phase.

The final report, including the draft principles and guidelines, was published by the Human Rights Council at its 11 session in 2009 (A/HRC/11/CRP.3). To read more about the background of the study and the process to publish the draft UN principles and guidelines, click here.

Although still a draft, IDSN promotes support for the framework among UN member states, experts and NGOs, and recommends the Human Rights Council to act in this regard.

IDSN recommendations for future action

IDSN urges all UN member states, in particular members of the Human Rights Council, and relevant non-state actors to support and endorse the draft UN Principles and Guidelines, to ensure effective follow-up to the study, and to implement the measures and recommendations contained in the Principles and Guidelines.

> Read the full text of the recommendations to the Human Rights Council

> What is discrimination based on work and descent?