The ICC Chief Executives' Committee has agreed to adopt and implement an amended Anti-Racism Code following a two-day meeting in Dubai on Sunday and Monday.
The amendments will allow countries to impose a range of punishments on spectators found guilty of racial abuse, ranging from ejection from the venue to a life ban. The move follows increasing calls for action after a number of complaints about spectator behaviour, especially in Australia in 2005-06.
The ICC warned that members failing to uphold the code could also face penalties if racist incidents happen at a venue under their control, those penalties ranging from warnings through to fines and the possible withdrawal of international status from the venue where any incident took place.
"The adoption of the amended ICC Anti-Racism Code is a further illustration of cricket's zero tolerance to racism," explained Macolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive. "That is already enshrined in the ICC Code of Conduct where racism is considered one of the most serious acts that can be committed, with the possibility of a life ban for anyone found guilty of such an offence. It has also been a part of our regulations for the past three years through our Anti-Racism Code and the further strengthening of this Code is another illustration of our commitment in this area.
"Cricket is a sport which reflects the world's diversity with a range of races and religions all involved. That diversity is something the game can be proud of and our Anti-Racism Code is something that emphasizes the commitment of all our Members to maintaining and enhancing it."
The amendments follow recommendations by a working party under Goolam Vahanvati, India's solicitor general, set up in the wake of allegations of racist abuse directed at South Africa players during their tour of Australia.
In addition to the new Anti-Racism Code, the committee also agreed to a series of anti-racism policy initiatives, including:
The ICC commissioning an eminent qualified lawyer to draft legislation dealing with racist behavior at cricket matches; Members would then lobby their respective governments to ensure adoption, establishing tough powers to deal with racism at sporting events.
The adoption of a text message or telephone hotline at venues allowing spectators to report offensive behaviour in confidence.
The holding of diversity days to emphasise the way cricket continues to break down barriers of race, colour, religion and culture.