World has collective responsibility to eliminate racism, Ban Ki-moon says

21 March 2008 –

Racism still hurts too many individuals and communities around the world, Secretary-Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on all countries and civil society groups to play their part in the fight to stamp out both racism and racial discrimination.

In a message to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is celebrated today, Mr. Ban said next year's formal review of actions taken since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action offered an opportunity to make important progress.

“Racial discrimination is a concern to all peoples and countries,” he said. “This review process is an opportunity to engage in an inclusive and transparent manner on an issue that demands our urgent and close attention.

“I call on all countries and civil society to make constructive use of the time between now and the formal review process to work out their differences so that we can seize this opening to boost our collective efforts to stamp out racism. This issue is too important; we cannot fail.”

The Secretary-General noted that the General Assembly proclaimed 21 March as the International Day to honour the memory of the scores of peaceful protesters who were massacred on this day in 1960 in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against the racist apartheid-era 'pass laws.'

“There has been significant progress since then, not least through the dismantling of the apartheid system. But racism continues to plague too many individuals, communities and societies the world over.”


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