“Let us honour the memory of those who died in Sharpeville and other racist incidents by redoubling our efforts to eradicate all forms of racism and racial discrimination. Let us translate good intentions into legal standards and the will to uphold them. Above all, let us cherish the rich diversity of humankind and respect the inherent dignity and equality of every human being.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day for the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2010
The theme for the 2010 commemoration is “Disqualify Racism”, in light of the upcoming 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa and efforts to prevent racist and xenophobic incidents. UN Photo/Fred Noy
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).
Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and we have built an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Convention is now nearing universal ratification, yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.
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.