UN chief calls for action against racial discrimination

UNITED NATIONS — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for action against racial discrimination.

“Realizing the vision of a world free of racism and racial discrimination demands action every day, at every level, in every society,” he told a commemorative meeting of the General Assembly on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“Today and every day, let us unite around our common humanity and speak as one for equality, respect, justice and dignity for all,” the UN chief was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

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, said Guterres.

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, he said.

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, he added.

“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.”

In line with international human rights obligations and commitments, member states must show stronger political will to accelerate action for racial justice and equality, Guterres said.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination falls on March 21. — (IANS)