International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 21 March 2014

On March 21, 2014, the General Assembly celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which was established to commemorate the 69 peaceful protesters killed in Sharpeville, South Africa under Apartheid on March 21, 1960.  H.E. Jan Eliasson and many others noted that this is the first time the day has been celebrated since the passing of Nelson Mandela.  H.E. Eliasson reflected on the work that the UN has done in effort to eliminate racial discrimination.  He applauded the General Assembly for establishing the International Decade for People of African Descent.  

Ms. Gay McDougall then spoke about the progress made towards the eradication of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia. She commented that the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, passed in 2001, was pivotal in forcing countries to acknowledge that racism still exists in all countries and all regions.  Ms. McDougall explained that racism today is not as obvious as it was in the past.  She explained that racial discrimination is now entrenched in society and leads to social and economic exclusion. Ms. McDougall stated that it is important to include those that endure racial discrimination in the post-2015 agenda because they are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and global economic strife.   


Representatives from all of the major groups then spoke.  H.E. Mahe ’Uli’uli Sandhurst Tupouniua, speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, stressed having strong leaders in the fight against racism. H.E. Jim McLay, on behalf of the Western European and Others Group, articulated that racism must be battled at an individual level.  Finally, H.E. Kingsley Mamabolo and H.E. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota both reflected on the actions of Nelson Mandela and his statement, “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”


Full Meeting Title: 76th Plenary Meeting of the Sixty-Eighth Session of the General Assembly

Key Speakers:  H.E. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the UN; Ms. Gay McDougall, Former United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues; H.E. Mahe ’Uli’uli Sandhurst Tupouniua, Permanent Representative of Tonga to the UN; H.E. Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the UN; H.E. Kingsley Mamabolo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN; H.E. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN

Written By WIT Representative:  Katherine King


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