Logo: 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action


Fighting Racism, 20 Years on from the adoption of the
Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Twenty years ago, leaders from across the globe came together in Durban, South Africa to address the pernicious effects of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. The World Conference against Racism, as it was known, led to the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) – a comprehensive and visionary document that embodies the world’s commitment to tackle the scourge of racism in all its forms and manifestations.

The 20th anniversary of the DDPA – together with its follow up processes and mechanisms, the International Decade for People of African Descent, the Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality and 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda – is a renewed opportunity to place racial equality and justice as the centrepiece of international, regional, and national agendas.

Realising the promise of the DDPA: what has been achieved since 2001

The DDPA has enhanced global efforts for combatting and preventing racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; it has contributed to the proliferation of legislative measures, the development of national action plans and monitoring mechanisms; and has helped to place the issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as an urgent priority on the international agenda.

Since the global community adopted the DDPA in 2001:

  • 42 States have adopted or amended legislation prohibiting racial discrimination;
  • 35 States have established equality bodies for combating racial discrimination and promoting equality;
  • 23 States and regional institutions have adopted national and regional policies against racism;
  • 26 more States have ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, bringing the total to 182 States that are party to this Convention.
  • The International Decade for People of African Descent was pronounced for the period 2015-2024
  • The Permanent Forum of People of African Descent has been established
  • An international independent expert mechanism on racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement worldwide has been established
  • The International Day for People of African Descent was celebrated for the first time on 31 August 2021

The 2021 report of the High Commissioner deplores the persistence of systemic racism, and highlights the imperative to reform discriminatory institutions, legislation, policies, and practices, in order to break this cycle. The Agenda towards transformative change for racial justice and equality, urges States to adopt a “systemic approach to combatting racial discrimination”

“Systemic racial discrimination extends beyond any expression of individual hatred… It results from bias in multiple systems and institutions of public policy, which separately and together perpetuate and reinforce barriers to equality... All of us need to call out and openly condemn all messages – especially political messages or discourses – which disseminate ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, or which incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”
-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet


High-Level Meeting and Political Declaration

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), the General Assembly is holding a high-level meeting, on 22 September 2021, at the level of Heads of States and Governments, on the theme “Reparations, racial justice and equality for people of African descent.”

The high-level event includes:

  • an opening plenary meeting,
  • two consecutive round tables, and
  • a closing plenary meeting.

In accordance with GA resolution 75/237, the meeting will also adopt a political declaration –aimed at mobilizing political will for the full and effective implementation of the DDPA and its follow-up processes.

Read more here about the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the DDPA and the global efforts to fight the scourge of racism.

A booklet, Fighting Racism and Discrimination: The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at 20A booklet, Fighting Racism and Discrimination: The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at 20, provides information about the DDPA and its impact, including statements from experts and stories about individual and collective efforts towards making the world free of racism and discrimination, showing the DDPA as a living document with relevance to the issues of today.




Videos


Accompanying video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the DDPA



Find out which countries have signed on to 18 critical human rights treaties protecting against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, here:
https://indicators.ohchr.org/