|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO STAMP OUT RACISM,
IN MESSAGE TO MARK DAY FOR ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to be observed on 21 March:
By proclaiming 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the General Assembly urged action to honour the memory of the scores of peaceful protestors who were massacred on this day in 1960 in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against the racist apartheid “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.
This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination offers an opportunity to address the problem globally as we prepare for the 2009 review of actions taken since the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action in 2001.
Racial discrimination is a concern to all peoples and countries. 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.
Preparations for the conference will coincide with our observance this year of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which starts by affirming the equality of all people and calling for all to “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. Not only Governments but also communities and individuals bear solemn responsibility for realizing this goal.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination serves to spotlight our collective responsibility to end racism. By acting on the ideals of the Universal Declaration, we can uplift not only those suffering from racial discrimination but humanity as a whole.
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