CAIRO – 21 March 2022: The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is celebrated annually on the day that police in Sharpeville, South Africa, shot and killed 69 people participating in a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws" in 1960.
In 1979, the General Assembly adopted a program of activities to be carried out during the second half of the Decade of Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination.
On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination, beginning on March 21, would be celebrated annually in all countries.
Since then the apartheid regime in South Africa has been dismantled, and racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries.
An international framework to combat racism was created, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
As the Convention approaches universal ratification, many individuals and communities in all regions continue to suffer from the injustice and stigmatization that racism brings.
The United Nations General Assembly reiterates that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development of their societies. In its latest resolution, the General Assembly further emphasized that any principle of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected.
Since its establishment, the United Nations has expressed concern about this issue. It prohibited racial discrimination to include all core international human rights instruments. These instruments impose obligations on states to eliminate discrimination in the public and private spheres.
The principle of equality requires states to take special measures to eliminate conditions that cause or help perpetuate racial discrimination.
This year's celebration focuses on the theme “Voices for Action Against Racism”. It aims in particular to highlight the importance of enhancing public participation and meaningful and safe representation in all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination, and to underscore the importance of fully respecting the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the protection of civic space, recognizing the contributions and challenges faced by individuals and organizations against racial discrimination.
This simple message can be a powerful way to motivate and strengthen people around the world to speak out against racism and to mobilize against all forms of racial discrimination and injustice and their manifestations, and to ensure the protection of those who shout it. This message gives ample room to tell stories of personal interests and to highlight individuals and populations around the world.