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High Commissioner for Human Rights: It is Time for States and Societies to Address the Complex Legacy of Past Forms of Racism and Exclusion, including Colonial Exploitation and the Trade in Enslaved Africans, and Deliver Reparatory Justice

28 March 2022

The Human Rights Council this morning commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with a debate on the theme of “voices for action against racism”. It then concluded its general debate on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and started a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the debate today celebrated the millions of voices around the globe who relentlessly – and courageously – fought racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Still today, millions of people – including Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent, indigenous peoples, migrants, and national, ethnic and linguistic minorities – continued to be confronted by racism, racial discrimination, inequality and exclusion. This could often take the form of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, religious discrimination and intolerance, affecting Muslim, Arab, Jewish and other communities around the world.

Ms. Bachelet said it was vital – and urgent – that the international community united to accelerate the pace in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. States and societies must address the complex legacy and lasting consequences of past forms of racism and exclusion, including colonial exploitation, enslavement and the trade in enslaved Africans. These crimes had affected generations of women, men and children, stripping them of their humanity. It was time to deliver reparatory justice.

Amock Alikuleti, human rights activist and poet, read out his poem “Justice Is Not Blind” (A Portrait of Corporate-State Impunity).

Four panellists then took the floor.

Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director of AAPI Equity Alliance and Co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said unfortunately, racism and discrimination were not new to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States. The vast majority of incidents were not crimes and therefore not hate crimes. Places open to the public made up a significant portion of the venues where these incidents took place. Working closely with local, state and federal policymakers, Stop AAPI Hate sought to address the hate incidents that occurred and prevent additional incidents from taking place in the future.

Mary Kluk, Director and Board Chairperson of the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre, National Vice-President of the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies and President of the Africa Australia Region of the World Jewish Congress, said South Africa had an extensive history of exclusion, which tragically continued in different forms today. In 2008, South Africa was deeply shaken by an outbreak of xenophobic attacks against foreigners. What exacerbated the problem was, when people in positions of power not only in South Africa but globally saw migrants as a danger, deflecting from poverty, the rising unemployment crisis and the unprecedented climate crisis. If all united against hatred and stood up for one another, they could truly tackle the root of it.

Lúcia Xavier, Founder and General Coordinator of Criola, said the moment was ripe for a global call against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance. Since the death of George Floyd in 2020, thousands of people had cried out for justice, against the practices of annihilation. Advances in legislative systems had expanded the instruments of defence against racism, but they were not enough to eradicate it and to stop the social and physical death that it produced. It was necessary to strengthen civil society, especially organizations and leaders that fought for human rights, so that they could amplify their voices against violence and authoritarianism. There was an urgent need to change the standard of civilization that allowed the constitution of a human experience without racism, without violence and for good living.

Joshua Castellino, Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International and Professor of Law at Middlesex University, said people in every part of this planet shared a common heritage, the same biology, a significant part of the same lived experiences, and many of the same hopes and dreams. Yet today, at a time of grave crisis, they appeared unable to act in unity and solidarity, to find imaginative solutions to common problems that affected all. It was now imperative that the international community made its voice heard again and followed them immediately with strong action for change, including zero tolerance toward any entity, no matter how powerful, that would use identity as a sword to divide populations.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers raised such issues as the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated inequalities, serving as a kind of trampoline, pushing discriminatory acts towards minorities. In all countries, racism persisted as an affront to human dignity and an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights, blocking the path to an inclusive world. False doctrines of racial superiority shaped past relations and policies. Today, the path of truth and reconciliation required an uprooting of such prejudices. In order to make concrete progress toward ending the drivers of racism and racial discrimination, all should mainstream and normalise discussions on this topic and ensure that the core principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility were applied across all societies. Ending racism was hard, but possible if the international community acted decisively and had a shared mission pursued on policy, cultural and personal levels. Credible action needed to be taken to ensure full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the gaps in national and international frameworks in addressing hate speech needed to be addressed.

Speaking in the panel discussion were Brazil, Haiti (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Canada (on behalf of a group of countries), Finland (on behalf of a group of countries), Côte d'Ivoire (on behalf of a group of African States), Pakistan (on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, European Union, Cuba, United Nations Children’s Fund, Armenia, Russian Federation, United States, Ecuador, Dominican Republican, Gabon, Azerbaijan, Germany, United Nations Population Fund, China, South Africa, Costa Rica, Belgium, Malawi and Venezuela.

Also speaking were International Service for Human Rights, World Jewish Congress, and Stichting CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil, and Edmund Rice International Limited.

The Council then concluded its general debate on agenda item eight on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, in which speakers said that Governments had constitutional obligations to protect indigenous lands, which were usurped by multinational corporations. The rights to self-determination, health and food, mentioned in the Declaration, had never been more important than they were at this time. The Council had been presented with evidence of the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on minorities and the indigenous, yet its efforts to remedy these had been ineffectual. The protection of human rights should be the concern of the world.

Speaking in the general debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action were Conselho Indigenista Missionário CIMI, United Nations Watch, Zero Pauvre Afrique, Maloca Internationale, Platform for Youth Integration and Volunteerism, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Action for Peace & Sustainable Development, International Service for Human Rights, Association pour la défense des droits de l'homme et des revendications démocratiques/culturelles du peuple Azerbaidjanais-Iran - « ARC », iuventum e.V., Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA), Réseau Unité pour le Développement de Mauritanie, Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement., Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Organization, Centre Zagros pour les Droits de l'Homme, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Global Welfare Association, ​Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Integrated Youth Empowerment - Common Initiative Group (I.Y.E. – C.I.G.), and Prahar.

The Council then moved on to item nine on its agenda, entitled racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”.

Marie Chantal Rwakazina, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Chair‑Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its nineteenth session, said that the responsibility of combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance lay primarily with States. The Working Group was of the view that national action plans should promote diversity, equality, equity, social justice and equal opportunity. In designing, implementing and evaluating action plans, States should establish or reinforce dialogue with non-governmental organizations and listen to the concerns of those enduring racism.

In the general debate on racism and racial discrimination, speakers said that awareness-raising, education and training were important in creating a society of acceptance, mutual tolerance and respect, including online. Societies where pluralism, equality, justice, and tolerance reigned should be the norm, and all should strive to this end. A legal and institutional framework should be designed to meet the commitments to arrive at equality and non-discrimination, with the creation of programmes ensuring access to education for all. Despite commitments and political statements, racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia were rampant. Growing trends of racism and the rise of populism were undermining the social fabric of societies, with the worst result on the lives and existence of the most vulnerable.

Speaking in the general debate on agenda item nine were France on behalf of the European Union and a group of countries, Brazil on behalf of the community of Portuguese-speaking countries, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the African Group, and Denmark on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-ninth regular session can be found here.

The Council will reconvene at 3 p.m., when it will continue and conclude the general debate under agenda item 9 on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Debate with a Theme on “Voices for Action against Racism”

Keynote Speakers

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the debate today celebrated the millions of voices around the globe who relentlessly – and courageously – fought racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. They confronted immense barriers, in societies where racism and discrimination deeply permeated social structures and institutions. Their bravery was often met with xenophobia and hate speech. They faced countless obstacles to their full participation in society. And far too often, their own lives were endangered simply because of the colour of their skin, their ethnic affiliation, their religious beliefs, or where they were born. Powerful global movements against racism were shifting the status quo. The wave of worldwide protests against racism and racial discrimination prompted by the killing of George Floyd in 2020 was testimony to the power of people and solidarity.

Yet still today, millions of people – including Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent, indigenous peoples, migrants, and national, ethnic and linguistic minorities – continued to be confronted by racism, racial discrimination, inequality and exclusion. This could often take the form of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, religious discrimination and intolerance, affecting Muslim, Arab, Jewish and other communities around the world. Racism affected all areas of their lives. It prevented millions of people from enjoying all their human rights. This hatred was often fed by political discourse, or the media. Toxic narratives destroyed social fabrics and destabilised common values.

The international community was moving too slowly. It was vital – and urgent – that it united to accelerate the pace in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action – the United Nations’ blueprint to combat racism globally – remained more relevant than ever. States also needed to honour their obligations and commitments and actively make use of international instruments to help them devise laws and policies to address racism and racial discrimination. Nevertheless, there were still protection gaps that needed to be addressed without delay by adopting additional standards.

States must listen to those who faced discrimination and stand up against racism – and promptly act on their concerns. This could be a purely tokenistic effort. Ensuring activists’ and communities’ meaningful and effective participation and representation at all levels of decision-making was a fundamental step in the fight against racial discrimination. States must also provide a safe environment for people who fight against racism and who choose to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

Crucially, States and societies must address the complex legacy and lasting consequences of past forms of racism and exclusion, including colonial exploitation, enslavement and the trade in enslaved Africans. These crimes affected generations of women, men and children, stripping them of their humanity. It was time to deliver reparatory justice. Today – and every day – we must say “never again” and stand in solidarity with all victims. Collective action was powerful action.

AMOCK ALIKULETI, human rights activist and poet, read out his poem “Justice Is Not Blind” (A Portrait of Corporate-State Impunity).

Statements by Panellists

MANJUSHA P. KULKARNI, Executive Director of AAPI Equity Alliance and Co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said that unfortunately, racism and discrimination were not new to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States. Notions of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners led to mass profiling and surveillance. More recently, the model minority myth had led to a lack of services to address the multitude of needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and resulted in underinvestment by government, corporations and philanthropy to uplift these communities.

Ms. Kulkarni noted an emerging pattern of hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders related to COVID-19. The vast majority of incidents were not crimes and therefore not hate crimes. Places open to the public made up a significant portion of the venues where these incidents took place. These figures gave credence to the anxiety felt by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that purchasing food, refilling prescriptions or simply going on a walk might leave them vulnerable to being attacked. Considering the intersectionality of race and gender, the data reinforced the notion that Asian American and Pacific Islander women faced racism on top of sexism in their daily lives. Asian Americans across ethnicities were experiencing heightened racism today. The widespread nature of anti-Asian hate was confirmed by a study by the Pew Research Centre which found that almost 45 per cent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had experienced racism since the pandemic began. Similarly, a survey by the Edelman Communications Firm found that one in five Asian Americans, or four million individuals, had experienced some form of hate or discrimination.

In conclusion, Ms. Kulkarni said that in addition to sharing data and analysis with policymakers and the public, Stop AAPI Hate had developed resources to ensure community safety, provided assistance through local networks, and conducted policy advocacy with lawmakers and government officials to advance education equity and civil rights. Working closely with local, state and federal policymakers, Stop AAPI Hate sought to address the hate incidents that occurred and prevent additional incidents from taking place in the future.

MARY KLUK, Director and Board Chairperson of the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre, National Vice-President of the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies and President of the Africa Australia Region of the World Jewish Congress, said that South Africa had an extensive history of exclusion, which tragically continued in different forms today. In 2008, South Africa was deeply shaken by an outbreak of xenophobic attacks against foreigners. What exacerbated the problem was, when people in positions of power not only in South Africa but globally saw migrants as a danger, deflecting from poverty, the rising unemployment crisis and the unprecedented climate crisis.

Ms. Kluk said she had recently hosted and facilitated dialogues for foreigners as a safe space for discussion and decision making. Hatred towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer plus community as well as gender-based violence had reached record levels. These crises had been exacerbated by government corruption and mismanagement resulting in poor service delivery of even basic needs. The very difficult material conditions under which so many South Africans lived undermined their basic human dignity. It also provided a rich breeding ground for hate. The Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre was a centre of excellence in education as well as in its wider focus on human rights and the issues of the day such as racism and xenophobia. The centre was uniquely placed to use the platform of the history of the Holocaust to examine the power of the individual for positive change. If all united against hatred and stood up for one another, all could truly tackle the root of it, she added. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies united against hate as a founding member of a critical national network, the Hate Crimes Working Group, where they were a member of the Steering Committee representing not only the Jewish community of South Africa but also the faith-based sector. This Hate Crimes Working Group was a multi-sectoral network of civil society organizations set up to spearhead advocacy and reform initiatives pertaining to hate crimes in South Africa and the region.

LÚCIA XAVIER, Founder and General Coordinator of Criola, said the moment was ripe for a global call against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance, because since the death of George Floyd in 2020, thousands of people had cried out for justice, against the practices of annihilation. But they were not heard. The death of George Floyd denounced the systemic form of racist action of democratic States against Afro-descendants, contrary to treaties and norms constituted in consensus for the implementation of human rights. The justification that led to Floyd's death also made thousands of victims in the name of the common good and the safety of elites in all parts of the world. And it generated a wave of worldwide protests against racial violence, such as the Black Lives Matter campaign. This tragedy made it clear that racism had been a major factor in defining the ways of being born, living and dying of the black population. And it was necessary to interrupt that destiny.

Violence and racial inequalities against Afro-descendants in Brazil had prevented the development of a dignified life and the contribution of this population in decision-making on the direction of the country, and still condemned future generations to death. It was necessary to act against the deleterious effects of racism in all its dimensions, tackling racial inequalities and eradicating racism in public and private institutions, which generated discrimination, violence and mass incarceration. The effects of racism also blocked access to justice and to reparation of their violated rights. Advances in legislative systems had expanded the instruments of defence against racism, but they were not enough to eradicate it and to stop the social and physical death that it produced. It was necessary to continue removing these barriers in public and private institutions, which prevented the participation of Afro-descendants in political decision-making in full equality. It was necessary to strengthen civil society, especially organizations and leaders who fought for human rights, so that they could amplify their voices against violence and authoritarianism. There was an urgent need to change the standard of civilization that allowed the constitution of a human experience without racism, without violence and for good living.

JOSHUA CASTELLINO, Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International and Professor of Law at Middlesex University, said people in every part of this planet shared a common heritage, the same biology, a significant part of the same lived experiences, and many of the same hopes and dreams. Yet today, at a time of grave crisis, people appeared unable to act in unity and solidarity, to find imaginative solutions to common problems that affected them. No organization in the entirety of human history had done more on a global scale, to overturn the legacies of colonization and division, than the United Nations, in its 75 years of existence. The time had come to draw on that legacy again, to show that leadership and vision, to eradicate and eliminate all forms of racial discrimination from all communities, and act to remove the barriers that divided humanity, and set about the task of constructing the platform for unity that was urgently required, to address the challenges the human race collectively faced.

History had shown that maintaining a political stranglehold through hate required ever-increasing aggression. This inevitably drove the need to hollow out of institutions, while distrust grew in communities, social fragmentation escalated, attacks against communities became common place and ever more persistent, and ever more lethal force was required to stop dissent. Meanwhile the problems would keep mounting rapidly. As the COVID-19 pandemic had shown, people in crisis would reach out across ethnic, linguistic, religious and racialised boundaries to help each other. Because no matter how powerful the force of hate was and how alluring it may be to gain and hold power through this route, human empathy would triumph eventually. An account would be demanded and held for those who forced societies to their knees. It was now imperative that the international community made its voice heard again and followed them immediately with strong action for change, including zero tolerance toward any entity, no matter how powerful, that would use identity as a sword to divide populations, rather than a wand to unite them in a spirit of collaboration, to play a role in the existential fight for survival that all were in, as one race on this planet.

Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, speakers noted the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated inequalities, serving as a kind of trampoline, pushing discriminatory acts towards minorities. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action’s measures should be fully implemented in order to combat these forms of discrimination, dismantling the foundations of systemic racism. In all countries, racism persisted as an affront to human dignity and an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights, blocking the path to an inclusive world. The global pandemic had exacerbated disparities, emboldened extremists and fuelled racism. Yet worldwide, inspired by grassroots movements for human rights, many were redoubling efforts to eliminate racism. Each country must begin this work at home. False doctrines of racial superiority shaped past relations and policies. Today, the path of truth and reconciliation required an uprooting of such prejudices. All should commit to summon the necessary courage to face difficult truths and the determination to take action to build a more inclusive world, free from racism.

Racism caused suffering and mistrust between people. Being blatant or elusive, it could be a powerful tool to incite fear, even hate, and uphold power structures that served only few. In order to make concrete progress toward ending the drivers of racism and racial discrimination, all should mainstream and normalise discussions on this topic and ensure that the core principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility were applied across all societies. It was key to increase the full, equal and meaningful participation of persons from diverse backgrounds, especially those who had traditionally been marginalised, in all spheres of society. This required dismantling structural inequalities and implementing well-targeted policy measures. Countering disinformation was crucial in preventing racism, including its use for political ends. Ending racism was hard, but possible if the international community acted decisively and had a shared mission pursued on policy, cultural and personal levels. Credible action needed to be taken to ensure the full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the gaps in national and international frameworks in addressing hate speech needed to be addressed.

Concluding Remarks

MANJUSHA P. KULKARNI, Executive Director of AAPI Equity Alliance and Co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, restated the importance for policies at national and international levels to address hatred against Asians, people of African descent and other marginalised groups. Public participation and civic engagement were of the utmost importance to prevent and combat racism and xenophobia. Only when addressing systemic racism would the full respect for human rights across the globe be possible.

MARY KLUK, Director and Board Chairperson of the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre, National Vice-President of the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies and President of the Africa Australia Region of the World Jewish Congress, said that there was still a lot to do. She underlined the importance of joint efforts and shared a short uplifting experience of hers. Six years ago, in South Africa, a man of prominence made a vicious anti-Semitic statement where he expressed his admiration for Hitler, among other things. She spent six years pursuing him with no avail, until last year, when he reached out with the intention to meet up. He explained that he went through a process of remorse and wanted to make amends, so instead of going through a punitive process, Ms. Kluk engaged with him and he agreed to spend an extensive period of time at the Johannesburg Holocaust Centre. He then expressed publicly his apologies where he recognised the danger of his previous statement. They had developed a meaningful relationship and he was now campaigning against racism in South Africa. That was the power of restorative justice, Ms. Kluk concluded.

LUCIA XAVIER, Founder and General Coordinator of Criola, reiterated the commitments made in Durban and underlined the continuous need to ensure that attention was paid to cutting racial violence which affected women and girls particularly. Racism could disappear from the globe, Ms. Xavier said.

JOSHUA CASTELLINO, Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International and Professor of Law at Middlesex University, London, said that the call from today's panel discussion was clear: eliminating discrimination required negotiation and strong collaboration to address climate change, inequality and poverty. Using identity politics to create division in society was the opposite of what needed to be done. Humanity needed to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination as, in the long term, failure to take adequate steps to address equality for all would contribute to humanity's decline. “Let your humanity be your sovereignty", Mr. Castellino concluded.

General Debate on Agenda Item Eight on Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

The general debate on agenda item eight on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action started on Friday, 25 March, and a summary can be found here.

General Debate

Speakers noted that Governments had constitutional obligations to protect indigenous lands, which were usurped by multinational corporations. The Vienna Declaration guaranteed the human rights of women, yet in certain countries, human rights defenders who defended the rights of women had been jailed, with punitive measures such as compulsory exile. The Declaration urged all States to put an immediate end to the practice of torture, and eradicate it for ever, and yet countries who practiced militia rule did not implement this. The right of peoples to self-determination was contained in the Vienna Declaration - and all forms of electoral fraud should be controlled, including electronic fraud.

The rights to self-determination, health and food, mentioned in the Declaration, had never been more important than at this time. The Council had been presented with evidence of the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on minorities and the indigenous, and its efforts to remedy these had been ineffectual. Equitable access to vaccines was vital for indigenous peoples and the most vulnerable. Marginalised persons who were discriminated against on the basis of gender, race, class, caste and others were ever more marginalised, including access to health care, increased violence, increased violence against women and girls, and other forms of discrimination. The world had been dealing with a crisis of immense dimension, with increases in poverty, and the global recession was showing that the Sustainable Development Goals may not be fit for the post-pandemic age, as they supported growth, rather than development. Equal treatment should be ensured for all refugees, including from the Ukraine crisis, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion or appearance. The protection of human rights should be the concern of the world.

Presentation of Report Under Agenda Item Nine on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance, Follow-up to and Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Documentation

The Council has before it the report (A/HRC/49/86) of the High Commissioner on combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief

Also before the Council is the report (A/HRC/49/89) of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its nineteenth session, held from 12 to 22 October 2021.

Presentation of Report

MARIE-CHANTAL RWAKAZINA, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its Nineteenth Session, said that the Working Group met from 11 to 22 October 2021 and reviewed the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. She reiterated that the responsibility of combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance lay primarily with the States. The Working Group was of the view that national action plans should promote diversity, equality, equity, social justice and equal opportunity. In designing, implementing and evaluating action plans, States should establish or reinforce dialogue with non-governmental organizations and listen to the concerns of those enduring racism. States were also invited to expand their efforts to foster bilateral, regional and international cooperation in implementing national action plans.

Ms. Rwakazina said that despite 75 years of United Nations anti-racism engagement, racial discrimination still persisted and it was necessary for all to renew commitment and political will, as well as to undertake urgent and concrete actions by States, civil society and the international community. The scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including its new forms and manifestations, still persisted in all parts of the world and countless human beings continued to be victims to the present day. The Working Group noted with concern the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19 pandemic) on the existing inequalities within societies and among countries and regretted that, in that context, persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, Asians and people of Asian descent and to other persons, especially women and girls, had been victims of racist violence, threats of violence, discrimination and stigmatisation. It urged States to address this issue. The Working Group had also reaffirmed its commitment to leave no one behind and for all countries to come together to fulfil the promise of the United Nations and to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

General Debate on Agenda Item Nine on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance, Follow-up to and Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Speakers said that the role of young people in combatting racism was important. Awareness-raising, education and training were important to create a society of acceptance, mutual tolerance and respect, including online. Societies where pluralism, equality, justice, and tolerance reigned should be the norm, and all should strive to this end. A legal and institutional framework should be designed to meet the commitments to arrive at equality and non-discrimination, with the creation of programmes ensuring access to education for all. An urgent collective response, based on solidarity and cooperation needed to be developed to ensure justice and reparation for all, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, with full respect of human rights for all.

Despite commitments and political statements, racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia were rampant. Growing trends of racism and the rise of populism were undermining the social fabric of societies, with the worst result on the lives and existence of the most vulnerable. Discrimination on the basis of language, colour, creed and religion were rejected. Respect for inter-cultural dialogue should be ensured so as to ensure equality between all cultures, societies and individuals. Despite concerted efforts by the international community during the past 20 years, building on efforts of the past decades, the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, including their new forms and manifestations thereof, persisted in all parts of the world, and countless human beings continued to be victims to the present day. There was no excuse for racism and racial discrimination, no matter what the circumstances, and especially not when the lives of people were in imminent danger. All States should show stronger political will in the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, to accelerate action for racial equality and to address the disparities and inequalities in human development due to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/03/la-journee-internationale-pour-lelimination-de-la-discrimination