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The Committee was established by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is composed of 18 independent experts elected on the basis of expertise, not nationality, who meet twice a year. 

The Committee has four main functions:

(a) To review the implementation of the rights covered in the ICERD by considering periodic reports from States Parties;
(b) To issue General Recommendations that give guidance in the interpretation of the rights;

(c) To consider inter-State complaints, that is, complaints lodged by one State Party against another State Party (there have been none to date); and

(d) To consider communications (i.e., complaints) from individuals lodged against States that have accepted the complaints procedure set out in Article 14.

In 1993, the Committee adopted an early warning procedure (based on Article 9 of the ICERD), whereby it will take urgent measures to help prevent or limit serious, large-scale violations of the prohibitions on racial discrimination. Non-governmental organisations may forward requests for implementation of the procedure to the Committee.