On International Day, Secretary-General Calls Racism ‘One of the Most Destructive Forces Dividing Societies’, Urges Everyone to Take Action Against Scourge
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed 21 March:
Racial discrimination is a deeply damaging and pervasive abuse of human rights and human dignity that affects every country.
It is one of the most destructive forces dividing societies, responsible for death and suffering on a grotesque scale throughout history. Today, racial discrimination and the legacies of slavery and colonialism continue to destroy lives and curtail opportunities, preventing billions of people from enjoying their full human rights and freedoms.
Racism is not innate, but once learned, it can take on a destructive power that is unstoppable. When Governments and other authorities use racism and discrimination for political ends, they stoke tensions and contribute to conditions that can escalate into violence, including atrocity crimes.
Xenophobia, prejudice, hate speech and other forms of racism and bigotry are rising everywhere. Political leaders scapegoat minorities and migrants. Social media influencers monetize racism online. Artificial intelligence reproduces racial discrimination in digital form. And after a period of heightened global awareness, some countries are experiencing a vicious backlash against equal rights and dignity for all.
We need to resist and reverse these trends, condemn and eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms, and address it wherever and whenever it arises. Leaders of all kinds, in both public and private spheres, must step up, speak out and take action against this scourge.
In this anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let’s commit to root out racism and racial discrimination and uphold the dignity and rights of all people, everywhere.