Events

Geneva

Human Rights Council debate on racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration

17 March 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Palais des Nations
Webcast live at webtv.un.org

New York

General Assembly plenary meeting in observance of the International Day

21 March 2017, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
United Nations Headquarters
Webcast live at webtv.un.org

Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination

In 1979, the General Assembly adopted a Programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (A/RES/34/24).

On this occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21 March, would be organized annually in all States.

Past Observances

2016 Theme: Challenges and Achievements of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action – 15 years after

This year, the International Day was devoted to challenges and achievements of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action – 15 years after the landmark document was adopted at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in South Africa.

2016 Message

2016 Events

In Geneva

The Human Rights Council held a debate on the state of racial discrimination worldwide (Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) on Friday, 18 March 2016.

In New York

The President of the General Assembly convened a meeting to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 18 March 2016 at United Nations Headquarters. The keynote speech was given by Mr. Ahmed Reid, Member of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

On Social Media

Ms. Gay McDougall, Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, took questions from the public on Reddit on 21 March 2016.

2015 Theme: "Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today"

This Year 2015, and as requested by the General Assembly, Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Human Rights Council convened meetings both in New York and Geneva during the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination through a debate on the state of racial discrimination worldwide.

This year's theme “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today” aimed to explore the root causes of racism and racial discrimination and stressed the essential need to learn the lessons history has provided in order to combat racism and racial discrimination today.

2015 Message 2015 Events

In Geneva, a panel event and a movie screening took place at the Palais des Nations on 20 March 2015.

Panellists spoke at the Human Rights Council about the importance of preserving the historical memory of past human rights tragedies, including slavery, the slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, apartheid, colonialism and genocide which have led to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. They explored the need of elaborating educational and awareness raising materials with a view to contribute to eradicating contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination.

For the screening of the movie on racism, young people from secondary schools were invited to participate in the event and to hold an exchange of views about situations of day to day racism.

In New York, the same day, a panel event took place at the United Nations Headquarters, with the participation of academics, including historians and experts from the civil society, active in the field of racism and racial discrimination.

2014 Theme: "The Role of Leaders in Combatting Racism and Racial Discrimination"

The theme for the 2014 event was "The Role of Leaders in Combatting Racism and Racial Discrimination", highlighting the key role that leaders play in mobilising political will to combat racism and racial discrimination.

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance on 8 September 2001, underlines the key role that political leaders and political parties can and ought to play in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

At the World Conference and subsequent Review Conference, States also recognized that promoting greater respect and trust among different groups within society must be a shared but differentiated responsibility of government institutions, political leaders, grassroots organizations and citizens.

2014 Messages

2013 Theme: "Racism and Sports"

Racism in sport, both by fans and competitors is an on going concern of the UN Human Rights Office. In September 2012, the Human Rights Council noted that, “Despite the immense potential of sport in promoting tolerance, racism in sport is still a serious problem.”

Referencing the Olympic spirit requiring “human understanding, tolerance, fair play and solidarity, the Council urged an intensified “fight against racism in sport.”

2013 Messages

2012 Theme: "Racism and Conflict"

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 aimed 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.

2012 Messages