Racism will not be overcome with mere professions of good faith but with anti-racist action
- UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris hosted a Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination on March 22, 2021, in partnership with the Republic of Korea.
- The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.
- 21st March every year is marked as UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
- This provides an opportunity to explore the nuanced causes and consequences of modern racism, and renew an important commitment to combat discrimination.
Principle of equality
- 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 and well-being of their societies. In its most recent resolution, the General Assembly also emphasized that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
- Racial discrimination, beyond being a breach of human rights, has harmful effects on human health and well-being, and risks wider disruptions to social cohesion
Forms of Racism:
- Current forms of racism and discrimination are complex and often covert
- Techno Racism: The use of new technologies and artificial intelligence in security raise the spectre of ‘techno-racism’, as facial recognition programs can misidentify and target radicalized communities.
- Anonymity of the Internet has allowed racist stereotypes and inaccurate information to spread online.
- At the onset of the pandemic, traffic to hate sites and specific posts against Asians grew by 200% in the U.S. In India and in Sri Lanka, social media groups and messaging platforms were used to call for social and economic boycotts of religious minorities, amid false information accusing them of spreading the virus
- Prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory acts, whether subtle or overt, aggravate existing inequalities in societies
- WHO has cautioned on the dangers of profiling and stigmatizing communities that can lead to fear and the subsequent concealment of cases and delays in detection
- UNESCO’s actions against racism through education, the sciences, culture, and communication offer an example of a way forward.
- UNESCO promotes the role of education in providing the space for young people to understand processes that sustain racism, to learn from the past, and to stand up for human rights.
- Through new approaches to inter-cultural dialogue and learning, youth and communities can be equipped with skills to eradicate harmful stereotypes and foster tolerance.
- UNESCO also offers master classes to empower students to become champions of anti-racism in their schools and communities.
- The International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities provides an additional platform for city-level planning and a laboratory for good practices in the fight against racism.
- manifestations of racism and discrimination call for renewed commitments to mobilize for equality.
- Racism cannot be tolerated, it cannot be overcome with mere professions of good faith but must be combated with anti-racist action.
- A global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination is built first and foremost in the minds of women and men.
- The words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan remain pertinent: “Our mission is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”