Alternative Report to the German State Report on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

Submitted October 27, 2023

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR),
Berlin PostKolonial,
Decolonize Berlin,
Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland

The alternative report outlines a key lacuna in the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in the Federal Republic of Germany: the legal reappraisal of colonialism, colonial crimes, of the historic colonial injustice and its lasting impact on racialized communities. Paradigmatic for this lacuna is the German government’s as well as the respective institutions’ (museums’/collections’) handling of human remains/Ancestors from colonial contexts in their archives and their position and praxis of repatriation. The way human remains/Ancestors are treated by institutions and museums and how the question of restitution is handled by state officials represents a racial discrimination pursuant to Art. 1 ICERD. Furthermore, Germany does not abide by its obligations as laid out in particular in Arts. 2, 5, 6 ICERD. In particular, no efforts by the Federal Republic of Germany are apparent to enact legislation on the issue nor to provide necessary remedies for those (unsuccessfully) seeking restitution and thereby end the violation of the rights of the deceased and their descendants. Germany needs to ensure legal certainty, adequate participation and access to justice when tackling restitution. This inter alia includes providing necessary frameworks for the funding of restitution as well as provenance research and granting access to available information and research findings.