©UN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann


Vulnerable Groups

who are they?

People of African Descent, the descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or more recent migrants, frequently face racial discrimination and prejudice.

Discriminatory structures and institutions, legacies of the injustices of enslavement and colonialism result in people of African descent being among the poorest and most marginalized groups in society who also face alarmingly high rates of police violence, and racial profiling.

In addition to People of African Descent and the descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, racism directly impacts the lives of many other communities and groups, including:

Victims of racial discrimination can also suffer from multiple, aggravated, compounded or intersecting forms of discrimination based on other related grounds, such as age, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, social origin, property, disability, birth, or other status.


Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia subject members of these religious communities to discrimination and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas.

Women and girls face additional discrimination based on their gender, making them extra vulnerable.


Nelson Mandela Statue surrounded by people Unveiling ceremony of Nelson Mandela Statue, a gift from the Republic of South Africa © UN Photo/Cia Pak

Nelson Mandela — A legacy of humility and service

As societies are becoming more polarized with hate speech on the rise, Nelson Mandela’s calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today. The pandemic too has further exposed our vital need for solidarity. The UN Secretary General António Guterres asks we honour Madiba’s call to action and be empowered by his legacy.

In-depth reading


Towards transformative change for racial justice and equality (YouTube playlist)

Michael McEchrane - The Brutal impacts of Systemic racism

Systemic racism strips off our human dignity and right, says Michael McEchrane, a founder member of European Network of People of African Descent. He defines systemic racism as, "inequities among groups and societies."

Towards transformative change for racial justice and equality (YouTube playlist)

Philonise Floyd - Equal Justice for all

One year after the murder of George Floyd, his brother Philonise Floyd, calls for justice for all victims of human rights violations by the police.

UN in Action

Living with the legacy of Slavery in Senegal – Ina Makosi

“We learn slavery at school. We know what happened, so we don't forget, we own it”, reflects Ina Makosi, a Senegalese photographer who researches the impact of the slave trade in Africa on today’s urban culture and youth. Video credits and details available here

UN Web TV YouTube Channel

Racism leads to "vaccine apartheid" - UN Human Rights Expert

Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, UN's Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, spoke to UN News on racism and xenophobia during the pandemic and the role of youth for social change.

UN in Action

Brazil: The Story of Slavery

More than 4 million slaves were shipped to Brazil from the coast of Africa during the 16th century and onward. But the practice of slavery was abolished in 1888. Descendants in Danda community – a quilombo – fight for their right to land that their ancestors once lived and worked on for generations. (video produced in 2015)

UN Free & Equal - YouTube playlist

UN Free & Equal: #YouthLead us toward a fearless future

Together, young people are standing up and fighting for a world free of poverty, racism, sexism, ableism and all forms of violence, inequality and discrimination.

UN in Action

I Still Believe in NYC

Cases of discrimination, especially against Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) New Yorkers, have increased during the COVID-19 crisis. In an effort to tackle anti-Asian bias and discrimination, the NYC Commission on Human Rights launched a pubic art campaign. (Produced in partnership with NYC Commission on Human Rights and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)