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Statement by Group of UN Human Rights Experts to mark International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

18 March 2011

Recognition, Justice and Development: A Roadmap to Achieve Full Equality for
People of African Descent

Following is a statement by a group of UN independent human rights experts to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is commemorated on 21 March 2011:

GENEVA – “Recognition, justice and development, three key steps to achieve full equality for people of African descent; three steps to mark 2011, the International Year for People of African Descent, and today, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.


We need to recognize that, regrettably, racism and racial discrimination against people of African Descent remain embedded in our societies.

People of African descent continue to face discrimination as a result of historical imbalances and injustices particularly in education, health, employment and housing. They continue to be victims of generalized racism and racial discrimination. Societies are not necessarily aware of the widespread marginalization and social exclusion that people of African descent face in everyday life due to the absence of appropriate tools to recognize and assess their situation, including reliable statistics and data. We need this data not only to identify the persons and groups affected by racial discrimination, but also to better understand the nature and extent of the inequalities they face.


No country is free from racial discrimination in the administration of justice.

We need to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of people of African descent in the administration of justice, thereby redressing disparities which can be partially explained by the continued existence of structural and institutional racism.

Inequalities in all aspects of daily life of people of African descent, demand our continued urgent attention. They not only persist regarding access to employment and promotion or educational attainment, but also seep into the provision of housing, health services, access to political decision making and judicial systems.

Subtle, but ever present, structural discrimination or institutionalized racism are part of everyday existence. They are regrettably not only accepted as part of the culture within public institutions or private enterprises, but also within the wider society.

The situation of women and girls of African descent who often suffer multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of their descent and gender must not be forgotten. They are regularly more marginalized and discriminated in comparison to men in key areas such as education, public and political life, health, and access to labour markets. They remain particularly vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, and racial abuse and violence.


Invaluable contributions to the economic, social, cultural, civil and political life of society have been made by people of African descent. Their brave efforts to overcome prejudice, racism and injustice have contributed to improving the freedom and equal rights of all peoples.

We need to integrate the insights, experience and expertise of people of African descent, empowering them to develop policies and practices to eliminate discrimination against people of African descent and realize their own aspirations.

Meaningful participation, empowerment, equality and non-discrimination are central features of a human rights-based approach to development. Racial discrimination against people of African descent impedes development.

The diversity of cultures, languages and customs of people of African descent weaves a rich tapestry of personal stories across the globe. We celebrate their contribution to our multi-ethnic and multicultural societies with a vision to continue striving for equal opportunities for all.

Recognition, Justice and Development: a roadmap to achieve full equality for people of African descent.”

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Githu Muigai: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/rapporteur/index.htm

The Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, Mirjana Najcevska: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/groups/african/4african.htm

The Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Anwar Kemal: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/index.htm

The Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Michelle Erazo (Tel: + 41 22 917 9722 / email: merazo@ohchr.org) or Kellie Shandra Ognimba (Tel: + 41 22 917 9268 / email: kognimba@ohchr.org).


For use of the information media; not an official record