New York

18 March 2022

Secretary-General's Remarks to General Assembly event on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [Bilingual, as delivered, follows. Scroll further down for all-English]

Bilingual, as delivered:

Je suis heureux d’être parmi vous à l’occasion de la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la discrimination raciale.

Cette journée est à la fois une journée de reconnaissance et un appel urgent à l’action.

Aujourd’hui encore, le racisme continue d’empoisonner les institutions, les structures sociales et la vie quotidienne dans toutes les sociétés.

Il reste un facteur d’inégalité persistant et continue de priver des personnes de leurs droits humains fondamentaux.

Il déstabilise les sociétés, sape les démocraties, porte atteinte à la légitimité de l’État et fait obstacle à une reprise inclusive et durable après le COVID-19.

Le racisme accélère par ailleurs les discours publics grossiers qui banalisent la haine, nient la dignité et incitent à la violence.

Les liens entre racisme et inégalité de genre sont indéniables. Ces phénomènes ont des conséquences terribles, dont les discriminations multiples et transversales que subissent les femmes de couleur et les groupes minoritaires.

Aucun pays n’est à l’abri de l’intolérance ni de la haine.

Les Africains et les personnes d’ascendance africaine, les Asiatiques et les personnes d’ascendance asiatique, les populations minoritaires, les peuples autochtones, les migrants, les réfugiés et tant d’autres continuent de subir la stigmatisation, la discrimination et la violence, et de servir de boucs émissaires.

This year’s theme – “Voices for Action against Racism” – calls on us to listen closely, to speak out loudly, and act decisively.

We all have a responsibility to engage in solidarity with movements for equality and human rights everywhere.

And we must extend solidarity to everyone fleeing conflict or persecution without any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity. We must speak out against hate speech - offline and online.

We must defend civic space by protecting free expression and assembly – the bedrock of pluralist, peaceful and inclusive societies.

We need a renewed social contract, based on rights and opportunities for all, to tackle poverty and exclusion, invest in education, and rebuild trust and social cohesion.  

We must listen to those experiencing injustice and ensure their concerns and demands are at the centre of efforts to dismantle discriminatory structures.

Reparatory justice is also crucial to realize racial equality and atone for the enduring legacy of centuries of enslavement and colonialism.

Historical injustices manifest themselves in poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, and social instability for entire communities and countries.

It is time to recognize and repair longstanding wrongs.

Building a future of justice requires mending an unjust past.

In line with international human rights obligations and commitments, Member States must show stronger political will to accelerate action for racial justice and equality.

We have the blueprints for determined action:

the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and its follow-up processes;

the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and

the Four-Point Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality.

The Permanent Forum of People of African Descent created by the General Assembly is another example of meaningful progress towards a systemic response to systemic racism.

I call on every Member State to take concrete actions – including through policy measures, legislation, and more granular data collection – in support of these efforts at the national and global level.

We at the United Nations have also launched our own internal Strategic Action Plan on Addressing Racism, which outlines concrete actions to tackle racism in the workplace through accountability.

I will soon be appointing a Special Adviser and establish a Steering Group to oversee implementation of this Plan.

Together, we are committed to making sure people of every race, ethnicity, colour, gender, religion, creed and sexual orientation enjoy a sense of belonging and safety, and have an equal opportunity to contribute to the success of our United Nations.

Realizing the vision of a world free of racism and racial discrimination demands action every day, at every level, in every society.

Today and every day, let us unite around our common humanity and speak as one for equality, respect, justice and dignity for all.

Thank you.

*****
All-English

I am pleased to join you for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This day is both a day of recognition and an urgent call to action.

Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society.

It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality.

And it continues to deny people their fundamental human rights.

It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of governments, and stymies an inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

Racism is also a catalyst of coarsening public discourse that normalizes hate, denies dignity, and spurs violence.

The linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable. We see some of the worst impacts in the overlaps and intersections of discrimination suffered by women of color and minority groups.

No country is immune from intolerance, nor free of hate.

Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent, minority communities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, and so many others – all continue to confront stigmatization, scapegoating, discrimination, and violence.

This year’s theme – “Voices for Action against Racism” – calls on us to listen closely, to speak out loudly, and act decisively.

We all have a responsibility to engage in solidarity with movements for equality and human rights everywhere.

And we must extend solidarity to everyone fleeing conflict or persecution without any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.

We must speak out against hate speech - offline and online.

We must defend civic space by protecting free expression and assembly – the bedrock of pluralist, peaceful and inclusive societies.

We need a renewed social contract, based on rights and opportunities for all, to tackle poverty and exclusion, invest in education, and rebuild trust and social cohesion.  

We must listen to those experiencing injustice and ensure their concerns and demands are at the centre of efforts to dismantle discriminatory structures.

Reparatory justice is also crucial to realize racial equality and atone for the enduring legacy of centuries of enslavement and colonialism.

Historical injustices manifest themselves in poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, and social instability for entire communities and countries.

It is time to recognize and repair longstanding wrongs.

Building a future of justice requires mending an unjust past.

In line with international human rights obligations and commitments, Member States must show stronger political will to accelerate action for racial justice and equality.

We have the blueprints for determined action:

the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and its follow-up processes;

the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and

the Four-Point Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality.

The Permanent Forum of People of African Descent created by the General Assembly is another example of meaningful progress towards a systemic response to systemic racism.

I call on every Member State to take concrete actions – including through policy measures, legislation, and more granular data collection – in support of these efforts at the national and global level.

We at the United Nations have also launched our own internal Strategic Action Plan on Addressing Racism, which outlines concrete actions to tackle racism in the workplace through accountability.

I will soon be appointing a Special Adviser and establish a Steering Group to oversee implementation of this Plan.

Together, we are committed to making sure people of every race, ethnicity, colour, gender, religion, creed and sexual orientation enjoy a sense of belonging and safety, and have an equal opportunity to contribute to the success of our United Nations.

Realizing the vision of a world free of racism and racial discrimination demands action every day, at every level, in every society.

Today and every day, let us unite around our common humanity and speak as one for equality, respect, justice and dignity for all.

Thank you.