The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an initiative product of the United Nations General Assembly, decreed in 1966. It is celebrated every year on March 21 in the member countries, where the organization of a week to holding events to raise awareness about this problem.
What is Racial Discrimination?
Racial discrimination is all those actions that threaten equal treatment between people because of their skin color, origin or ethnicity. Currently there are multiple organizations, events, and institutions that fight against racism.
In many countries, this is a major problem, for this reason initiatives such as the declaration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have emerged.
Origin of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
In 1966 the United Nations General Assembly decreed March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. They selected this date in commemoration of the victims in a peaceful demonstration in 1960, against the apartheid pass law in Sharpeville – South Africa. The police repressed the protesters with fire and at least 69 were killed.
With the declaration of this day, the General Assembly pressured the International Community to take real action to combat all forms of discrimination. In 1979, for the first time, a schedule of activities was approved to promote the celebration of the week of solidarity with the victims of racism and racial discrimination.
Since that tragic day in 1960, the apartheid system in South Africa was dismantled, racist laws and procedures have been eradicated in many countries. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination has guided the creation of an international legal framework against this behavior in all its forms.
However, although the international community has made progress on this matter, it is also true that much remains to be done, individuals, groups and communities still suffer from racism.
Theme for the year 2021
Every March 21 a topic is chosen to emphasize the problem of racism in the world. For this year 2021 the theme was selected: “Youth rise up against racism”
This motto seeks to involve the general public through the development of an awareness of tolerance, equality and the fight against racism. The theme was selected due to the massive support that youth groups demonstrated at the 2020 “Black Lives Matter” marches around the world.
As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of discrimination and racism, especially in young people, has deepened. Because their access to education, employment opportunities and, in general, their role in public life have been affected. This has directly limited the individual and group empowerment that they had been achieving for some years.
Events related to Racial Discrimination
Just as there is this date to promote the fight against discrimination and racism, there are also other events around this issue such as:
- The Week of Solidarity with the Peoples who fight against Racism and Racial Discrimination. This week begins on March 21 of each year.
- 2011 was decreed as: The International Year for People of African Descent.
- The International Decade for People of African Descent that began on January 1, 2015 and will culminate on December 31, 2024. Its theme focuses on recognition, justice and equitable development.
You may not see a direct impact or immediate improvement of the problem through these initiatives, however, they are very effective in raising awareness and getting the public involved in this fight.
In addition, it is important to remember that all human beings, even if they are not identical, are equal in terms of their rights and in this sense each individual must be respected, whatever their characteristics. Now that you know this international anniversary, support this noble cause against racism.