“Racism is evil”: the UN celebrates the International Day against Racial Discrimination

«Расизм – это зло»: в ООН отмечают Международный день борьбы с расовой дискриминацией

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Montreal. The banner reads: “Racism is also a pandemic.” (Archive) “Racism is evil”: the UN celebrates the International Day against Racial Discrimination Human Rights

Racial discrimination and the legacies of slavery and colonialism continue to destroy the lives and limit the opportunities of millions of people around the world. To draw the attention of the international community to this problem and stimulate the search for solutions, the UN celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21.

“Racism is an evil that infects countries and societies around the world, a deeply rooted legacy of colonialism and enslavement,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The head of the world organization called for protecting people of African descent from discrimination and supporting their rights and freedoms.

“This includes includes government promotion of policies and other measures to eliminate racism against people of African descent. And technology companies urgently need to address the problem of racial bias in the field of artificial intelligence,” Guterres emphasized.

History of the International Day

On March 21, 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, to protest the apartheid regime’s mandatory passport laws for Africans in South Africa.

In memory of this event, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1966 and called – in resolution 2142 – to combat all its forms.

Situation of people of African descent

About 200 million people who consider themselves to be of African descent live in America. Millions more live in other parts of the world, outside the African continent.

Descendants of victims of the transatlantic slave trade, along with newly arrived migrants from African countries, constitute the poorest and most marginalized segments of the population. Research by government and international organizations has shown that people of African descent continue to have limited access to quality education, housing, health care and social welfare services.

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In addition, people of African descent may be subject to multiple or “intersecting” forms of discrimination based on others criteria. Such criteria may include gender, language, religion, political or personal beliefs, social class, property, disability, origin.

Major milestones of the struggle with racism at the UN

The Durban Declaration and Program of Action reaffirmed the fact that people of African descent were victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism, and are now victims of the consequences of these atrocities. These documents, which set out the international community’s program to combat racism, were adopted by consensus in 2001 at the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa.

On 22 September 2011, the United Nations General Assembly held a one-day high-level meeting in New York to mark the 10th anniversary of the Durban Declaration.

The tenth anniversary served as an occasion to strengthen political resolve to combat racism and racial discrimination. 2011 was also declared the International Year for People of African Descent.

In its resolution 68/237 of 23 December 2013, the General Assembly proclaimed the period from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, dedicating it to the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.”

The UN also reminds that the most important instrument for eradicating racism is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted by the General Assembly December 21, 1965.


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