The United Nations (UN)’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is annually observed across the globe on 21st March to promote efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a blueprint for international human rights principles.
The theme of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2023 focuses on ‘the urgency of combating racism and racial discrimination, 75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR)”.
i.The United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) adopted resolution 2142(XXI) on 26th October 1966 and proclaimed the 21st March of every year as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
ii.The first-ever International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was observed on 21st March 1967.
Why March 21?
21st March marks the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre occurred at the Sharpeville Police Station in the township of Sharpeville in the then Transvaal Province of the then Union of South Africa (today part of Gauteng)
- On 21st March 1960, South African Police (SAP) opened fire at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws; 69 people were killed, and 180 were injured.
The United Nations Human Rights Office(UNHRO) launched its #FightRacism campaign to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination. The campaign is launched amid the increase of xenophobia(dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries), racism, and intolerance.
Efforts of UN:
i.In 1979, UNGA adopted a programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination.
ii.The UNGA also decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21 March, would be organized annually in all States. Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled.
- Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination 2023 is observed from 21st to 27th March 2023.
Principle of equality
i.The UNGA 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.
ii.The UNGA has also highlighted 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.
About United Nations Human Rights Office(UNHRO):
High Commissioner– Volker Türk(Austria)
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland