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Report on SDGs and the fight against racial discrimination: Call for input

Issued by

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism


17 June 2022


Issued by Special Procedures


Discrimination and intolerance, Racism, Sustainable Development Goals

Symbol Number



The present report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 43/36, contains a racial justice and equality analysis of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.


In the Durban Declaration (2001), the international community reiterates that “poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion and economic disparities are closely associated with racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and contribute to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices which in turn generate more poverty”. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1, adopted in 2015, constitute the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda) and are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They seek to address key global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice2. Through the achievement of these goals, States have committed to “Leave no one behind”. The 16 goals have a clear correlation with the enjoyment of human rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and other core international human rights instruments.

Racism and xenophobia remain entrenched in society, and result in restrictions or restrictive interpretations of laws, policies and practices, affecting the enjoyment of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of racialized groups, such as people of African and Asian descent, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees. As reiterated by the Special Rapporteur, contemporary forms of discrimination must be understood as a continuation of insufficiently remediated historical forms and structures of racial injustice and inequality3. The members of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) have also reaffirmed that “addressing inequalities therefore also entails addressing structural barriers reversing unequal distributions of power, resources and opportunities, and challenging discriminatory laws, policies, social norms and stereotypes.”4

Purpose of the report

The purpose of the report is to assess the historical and contemporary relationship among the development framework, especially the 2030 Agenda, and racial justice and equality. The Special Rapporteur will explore how the SDGs can contribute to combating racial discrimination and promote substantive racial equality, with attention to the right to development. The Special Rapporteur will also analyse the main limits, challenges and opportunities of using the SDGs as effective tools in the fight against racism, especially with regard to the continuing legacies of the trans-atlantic slave trade, colonialism and other historical racial injustices.

Call for submissions

To inform her report, the Special Rapporteur wishes to receive input from relevant stakeholders, including national and local governments, national and international non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and equality bodies, inter-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and entities, activists, academics, and corporations. She invites all interested stakeholders to share their views and provide information on the following:

  • Descriptions, examples, and other accounts of how the SDGs are being integrated as part of the fulfilment of human rights obligations, including achieving substantive racial equality, with particular emphasis on the testimony of human rights defenders and organizations in the Global South and those from historically marginalized or racialized communities in the Global North;
  • Examples of how the specific needs of historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups are taken into account in the implementation of all relevant goals of the 2030 Agenda;
  • Measures taken to ensure collection of disaggregated data relevant of the implementation of each goal;
  • Mechanisms which monitor progress in reducing inequalities, in particular those rooted in structural and systemic racism, as well as those in place to monitor the impact of such progress on historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups;
  • Measures adopted to monitor the reduction of inequalities between States with particular regard for the right to development;
  • Programmes to promote and ensure the meaningful and empowering participation of racial and ethnic minorities in the design, elaboration, adoption and implementation of legislation, policies and practices aimed at the implementation of the SDGs at the national and international levels;
  • Barriers to achieving substantive racial equality in order to fulfil the Agenda’s pledge to “leave no one behind”;
  • Historical contextualization of the SDGs within the larger trajectory of United Nations development initiatives, including the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Millenium Development Goals and other relevant programmes;
  • Information on the shortcomings, challenges and/or drawbacks of utilizing a development frame to challenge racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, including with regard to the legacy of historical injustices, including slavery, the transatlantic slave trade, apartheid, colonialism and genocide;
  • Programmes which conceptualize the SDGs or other development initiatives as reparation for historical injustices, as envisioned by paragraph 158 of the Durban Programme of Action.


1 Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms; Goal 2: Zero Hunger; Goal 3: Health; Goal 4: Education; Goal 5: Gender equality and women’s empowerment; Goal 6: Water and Sanitation; Goal 7: Energy; Goal 8: Economic Growth; Goal 9: Infrastructure, industrialization; Goal 10: Inequality; Goal 11: Cities; Goal 12: Sustainable consumption and production; Goal 13: Climate Action; Goal 14: Oceans; Goal 15: Biodiversity, forests, desertification; Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

3 A/74/321, para 20

5 “[T]hese historical injustices have undeniably contributed to the poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, economic disparities, instability and insecurity that affect many people in different parts of the world, in particular in developing countries. The Conference recognizes the need to develop programmes for the social and economic development of these societies and the Diaspora, within the framework of a new based on the spirit of solidarity and mutual respect”.