The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us of our collective responsibility for promoting and protecting this ideal.
The Day is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws".
Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
Racial and ethnic discrimination occur on a daily basis, hindering progress for millions of people around the world. Racism and intolerance can take various forms − from denying individuals the basic principles of equality to fuelling ethnic hatred that may lead to genocide − all of which can destroy lives and fracture communities. The struggle against racism is a matter of priority for the international community and is at the heart of the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
So what can you do to fight racism?
Get involved in the Let’s Fight Racism Campaign: Take a stand that racism is unacceptable. Join the discussion, get involved and spread the word.
The campaign website (www.letsfightracism.org) – is available in all six official languages. It also links to real-life stories, a quiz, and the UN's global action plan (Durban Declaration and Programme of Action) to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
If you are a teacher their ideas for the classroom. There are many ways of making the classroom a place of acceptance and of multiracial celebration. Cultural factors influence a student’s responses, such as how much eye contact he or she finds comfortable, how receptive he or she is to group learning strategies, or his or her style of dramatic play or story-telling. If and when there is a racial conflict in the class, deal with it; do not dismiss it.
Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are problems prevalent in all societies. Each and every one of us plays a role in either contributing to or breaking down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.
Postcards (www.un.org/en/letsfightracism/postcards) -- printed and distributed in all six official UN languages late last year.
Social Media discussion:
On Social Media - Twitter (#FightRacism) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights) will be used to discuss and engage people, asking: “What are you doing to fight racism?" The best answers will be collected on Storify (storify.com/un/lets-fight-racism) and linked to from the campaign website.
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485