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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
21 March

2012 Theme: "Racism and Conflict"

Children victim of conflict

Racial or ethnic discrimination has been used to instill fear or hatred of others, often leading to conflict and war, as in the case of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. © UN Photo/John Isaac.

The theme for the 2012 event was "Racism and Conflict," highlighting the fact that racism and discrimination often are at the root of deadly conflict.

The theme was chosen to capture the often ignored yet mutually reinforcing relationship between racism and conflict. In many parts of the world, racism, prejudice and xenophobia create extreme tension and are used as powerful weapons to engender fear or hatred in times of conflict. Prejudice and xenophobia can even lead to genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

This theme aims to raise awareness of these issues and to recall the plight of the victims who suffered or continue to suffer as a result of racism-related conflicts.

The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us of our collective responsibility for promoting and protecting this ideal.


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