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The impact of nationalist populism on racial equality: Report

Deadline: The Special Rapporteur’s 2018 report to the United Nations General Assembly is now online.

Issued by: Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism

View Report: A/73/305

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, focused her first thematic report to the UN General Assembly on the impact of nationalist populism on substantive racial equality. The report was presented at the Seventy third Session of the UN General Assembly in 2018.


International human rights law prohibits racial discrimination which it defines broadly as discrimination based on race, colour, decent, or national and ethnic origin1. A number of reports produced by this mandate have documented, denounced the use of nationalism as a political tool to mobilise popular support with a negative impact on racial equality2. On the one hand, international human rights law and principles require States to condemn and address the propagation of theories of racial or ethnic superiority; and to do so even when racial and ethnic hatred is propagated by political parties and leaders3. Yet today, the increasing political successes and prominence of nationalist populist movements across the world still poses a dangerous threat to racial equality, including by aiding the normalization of discourses, ideologies and practices that incite racial discrimination, xenophobia and exclusion in the name of protecting national interests.

Purpose of the report

The report examines nationalist populism that poses threats to the fundamental human rights principles of non-discrimination. The report maps the impact of nationalist populism on racial equality. It seeks inter alia, to:

  • Identify the different nationalist ideologies adopted by populist movements in different parts of the world, and to canvas some of the structural drivers that help explain their seemingly growing appeal;
  • To document the impacts of populist nationalist ideologies and movements on racial, religious and ethnic minorities, on racial equality and on social cohesion;
  • To identify measures that States, civil society actors or others have taken to curb the adverse racial, ethnic and religious effects of nationalist populism;
  • To elaborate on the applicable legal and normative frameworks governing racial equality and prohibiting hate speech and incitement to hatred and incitement to discrimination;
  • To outline existing good practices in ensuring that those who incite hatred, discrimination and intolerance are held to account, including at highest levels of political office;
  • To provide concrete recommendations to all relevant stakeholders, including States, concerned communities and their representatives

The report condemns nationalist populism that advances exclusionary or repressive practices and policies that harm individuals or groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin and religion, including in combination with gender, sexual orientation, disability status, migratory status or other related social categories.

The report urges Member States to take action to combat Nationalist populist threat, in order to comply with their equality and non-discrimination obligations under international human rights law and take all measures necessary to combat direct and indirect forms of racial discrimination.

Call for submissions

To inform her report, the Special Rapporteur received inputs 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 and academics. She invited all interested stakeholders to provide information and share views on any of the following issues:

  • Manifestations of nationalist populist movements around the world both at the right and left extremes of the political spectrum;
  • Discrimination and exclusion around the world attributable to the implementation of policies and laws initiated by nationalist populist platforms/parties/governments;
  • Prevalence of hate incidents including hate crime linked to the rise of nationalist populism;
  • Manifestations of the adverse impacts of nationalist populist rhetoric, policies and laws on social, economic and political welfare, especially as these impacts affect racial, religious and ethnic minorities and excluded groups while taking into consideration the intersectionality between these categories and, gender, disability, age, and sexual orientation;
  • Racially discriminatory voter suppression laws, policies and practices that have benefited nationalist populist movements and parties and their impact on racialized groups;
  • Racially discriminatory immigration laws and policies driven by nationalist populist ideologies  and their impact on the welfare of racial, religious, and ethnic minorities as well as migrants and refugees;
  • Structural and historical factors exacerbating the prevalence and prominence of nationalist populist movements in various settings;
  • Responses and measures adopted to address platforms and movements contributing to the normalization of hate speech, incitement to hatred and racial discrimination/exclusion; and
  • Good practices in various regions of the world for diminishing the threat of nationalist populist rhetoric and policies to racial equality.

In relation to these issues, some stakeholders also made suggestions for concrete recommendations that Special Rapporteur included in her report.


1. Article 1 (1) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.

2. E/CN.4/1999/15, E/CN.4/2002/24, E/CN.4/2003/24, E/CN.4/2005/18, E/CN.4/2006/16, A/HRC/4/19, A/HRC/7/19, A/HRC/26/49, A/49/677, A/50/476, A/53/269, A/62/306, A/66/313.

3. Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination requires “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention.” See also Durban Declaration and Program of Action, para 81-84 Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, General recommendation No. 35, Combating racist hate speech.

Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism
Recent thematic reports
Contact information

Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: ohchr-racism.un@org

Others involved
External links