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International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination


The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination observed on every 21st of March, marks the day when the police opened fire on a crowd of Black protesters in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960.

This incident ended the lives of 69 people and injured more than 180 others, at a demonstration that was peaceful and was being marked against the “pass laws”, which discriminated against Black people.

In 1979, the General Assembly embraced a program of activities to be carried out in the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination.

From then onwards, the General Assembly decided that a whole week would be marked with people experiencing racism and racial discrimination, starting from the 21st of March. This event would be organized annually in every State.

International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2024, is “A Decade of Recognition, Justice, and Development: Implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent”.

It is considered that racial discrimination and the history of slavery and colonialism continue to ruin lives and hinder opportunities, preventing billions of people from realizing their full human rights and freedoms.

This year’s theme is connected with the International Decade for People of African Descent, which begins from 2015 up till 2024. In announcing this Decade, the international community is recognizing that people of African descent speak for a distinct group, whose human rights must be safeguarded and encouraged.

After 1979, the apartheid system has been abolished in South Africa. Racist laws and practices have been put an end to in many countries. In addition to this, an international framework has been set up to fight racism which is also directed by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Also Read: Global efforts to eradicate racism

“Racism is evil”

The UN Secretary-General in his message on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, reports that “racism is an evil” that continues to impact countries and societies around the world and is “a deeply entrenched legacy of colonialism and enslavement.”

He considers this dilemma to be “rife”, however, he maintains that it has an effect on communities in a dissimilar manner.

The UN General Assembly reasserts that every individual is born free and equal in both dignity and rights. Human beings also have the scope to contribute to the development and welfare of their societies.

The General Assembly in its most current resolution also reports that “any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.”

The United Nations compels States and enforces a duty on them to eliminate discrimination in both the public and private platforms. The principle of equality also requires States to take special measures and to end conditions that make way for racial discrimination.

Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy

Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reported in his speech on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that Canada is acting on efforts to fight against systemic racism, which is being led by Canada’s Anti Racism Strategy.

With this Strategy in practice, the country takes on a diverse and cross-government approach to eliminate barriers and make “Canada more inclusive,” the Prime Minister of Canada reported.

Trudeau further went on to report that, through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the Government of Canada’s 2023 2028 Action Plan, the country would strive to work with indigenous partners and fight against racism, prejudice, and discrimination that the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis experience.

In addition to this, through the Black Entrepreneurship Program and the Supporting the Black Communities Initiative, Canada is on track to support Black entrepreneurs and local community organizations.

The country is also expanding its efforts under the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, to ensure that Black Canadians have the desired resources to attain their complete potential.

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