50th Anniversary of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: 50 years of fighting racism

On 21 December 1965, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2106, which established the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).  It is among the oldest conventions in the UN Human Rights Office arsenal to target oppression and discrimination.  

The Convention essentially resolves to “to adopt all necessary measures for speedily eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations, and to prevent and combat racist doctrines and practices in order to promote understanding between races and to build an international community free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination.”

2015 marks 50 years since the adoption of the Convention. It was forged during the time of great civil unrest in parts of the world. The drafting took place during the civil rights movement in the United States, whose Civil Rights Act was passed just prior to its adoption. Apartheid was at its height in South Africa, with the Sharpeville Massacre bringing the cruelty of the regime into international focus. And many countries in Africa were doing away with colonialism for independence.

Yet, despite these milestones, racism continues to plague societies. To combat it, ICERD  continues to examine the situation in each country that has ratified the Convention through its committee. In fact, the 177 States that have ratified the Convention must regularly report to and appear before the committee in Geneva. The committee, in turn, issues concrete recommendations on how various forms of racism that exist in each country can be effectively eliminated.

Indeed, even after half a decade since its adoption, ICERD continues to remain relevant to the issues that we face today. As one opinion put it, “The Convention, as a living instrument, must be interpreted and applied taking into account the circumstances of contemporary society.” Over the past 45 years, the committee has effectively addressed new and emerging issues within the framework of the Convention and adopted innovative practices to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

Human rights defenders talk about the importance of the Convention

In this section


UN Secretary-General's Message

How NGOs can be involved

Success Stories


Celebration Event - 26 November 2015

Concept note
English: Word | PDF
French: Word | PDF
Spanish: Word | PDF

English: Word | PDF
French: Word | PDF
Spanish: Word | PDF


Event registration form


CERD 50th Anniversary Poster

Web PDF | Print-quality PDF


"More than meets the eye" Postcards

Download a series of seven postcards that aim to challenge stereotypes based on how people look. Get the postcards

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