Renewed hope for victims of racism

Ten years ago at the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, world leaders recognized that no country can claim to be free of racism.

By adopting the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) by consensus at the 2001 Conference, the international community committed to tackling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, some of the most critical challenges of the 21st century.

Despite progress made since this historic breakthrough, rising bigotry and prejudice remain a worldwide challenge.

Speaking at the UN High-level meeting to mark the 10th anniversary of the DDPA, hosted during the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, UN Human Rights chief, Navi Pillay, stressed the importance of confronting the gap between the commitments made 10 years ago, and the concrete and effective action actually taken since 2001.

“Some States have made incremental progress in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, largely through the enactment or amendment of constitutional protections and domestic legislation,” Pillay said. “The importance of solid legal regimes to protect rights and provide avenues for remedy and redress is undisputable.  Yet, tangible progress cannot be attained without the political will to implement and enforce such laws.”

“Few people in the world today would openly deny that human beings are born with equal rights, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims. And we all agree that far too many people are still victimized because they belong to a particular group -- whether national, ethnic, or religious, or defined by gender or by descent,” the High Commissioner added. “The DDPA - through the perspective of victims - provides a comprehensive framework to translate this sentiment and this recognition to action.”

At the General Assembly world leaders adopted a political Declaration (PDF) renewing their commitment for real action to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to focus on the concerns of the victims.

22 September 2011