Ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland have much less legal protection than in other parts of the United Kingdom members of the OFMDFM Committee were told, on 9 January 2013.
Committee members were briefed by Patrick Yu of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM).
Mr Yu explained some of the difficulties arising from the lapsing of the Race Equality Strategy 2005-10.
He said this had made it almost impossible to address racial equality and discrimination in Northern Ireland.
"There is an urgent need for action," Mr Yu commented.
He added that there was a requirement for legislation to comply with the EU racial equality directive.
Mr Yu called on the committee to introduce a debate in the assembly.
The committee agreed to ask OFMDFM for a briefing on the current state of its work on racial equality.
Members would then decide whether to call for a full assembly debate.
The committee was then briefed on European Union matters by Colette Fitzgerald of the European Commission office in Belfast and Jane Morrice of the European Economic and Social Committee.