International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN human rights Chief Navi Pillay calls on States to take all necessary measures to ensure that discrimination against people of African descent comes to an end.

21 March - The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination © OHCHR Photo“Recognition of the many insidious forms of exclusion and discrimination that affect African descendents is an essential first step towards devising and implementing remedial policies that level the playing field and grant justice to the victims”, she said.

Pillay was speaking at an event in Geneva to commemorate the Day which is observed in remembrance of the Sharpeville tragedy of 21 March 1960, where dozens of peaceful South African protestors were killed by the racist Apartheid regime.

The General Assembly proclaimed 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent “with a view to strengthening national actions and regional and international cooperation.” The theme for this year’s commemoration is “People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice, Development”.

“There is no doubt that the abhorrent legacy of the transatlantic slave trade persists”, Pillay said. “Discrimination against African descendents manifests itself in a multiplicity of forms, such as racial profiling, overrepresentation in prison populations and poor access to quality education, justice, and health services.”

The High Commissioner stressed that the Day was an annual reminder that we must all act more decisively to combat racial discrimination and related intolerance.

“The increasing number of incidents in various parts of the world proves that enhanced commitment to full and effective implementation of international human rights law to combat racism is urgently needed”, she added.

The event in Geneva featured the screening of a documentary, “Defensa 1464”, on Afro-descendants in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was also an opportunity for Pillay to launch a new publication entitled Durban Review Conference Side Events on the testimonies of victims of racism from around the world, and the debates on topical issues organised by civil society organizations during the 2009 Durban Review Conference.

22 March 2011