Fifteen years have elapsed since a landmark document to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia was adopted in Durban, South Africa, yet today the United Nations is still greatly concerned that the political will needed to address these issues is under threat.
During a meeting of the UN General Assembly to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned that the collective determination that enabled such a far-reaching agreement is being undermined by political expediency.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
In observance of this day, the global community is commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The document is said to be the most comprehensive framework for international, regional and national actions against racial discrimination.
The UN chief noted that the world has “undoubtedly come a long way” in ensuring equal rights and non-discrimination. Nonetheless, he remained deeply alarmed by a surge of intolerance, racist views and hate-driven violence around the world.
“Racial profiling and violence against certain communities is on the rise. Economic hardship and political opportunism are triggering increased hostility towards minorities. This is being manifested most directly in anti-refugee, anti-migrant and, in particular, anti-Muslim bigotry, attacks and violence,” he said. The Secretary General said extreme right-wing political parties “are fomenting divisiveness and dangerous myths.”
In his speech, the UN chief also reminded member states that by implementing the Durban agreements, “we can uplift not only those who suffer most profoundly but humanity as a whole.”
Guyana’s history comprises of a long line of tumultuous events, which circle the very concerns still plaguing the international society.
Much of the country’s history surrounds problems arising from the differences of the various ethnicities and the power imbalance among the various groups.
Even today, concerns of racial discrimination tied with political discrimination are alive and well. The Parliamentary Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is strongly of the view that the present government is guilty of implementing anti-cohesive activities with the aim of further segregating the country for political purposes. The blame game stands strong with the government accusing the opposition of same.
The concern of the media in spewing racism and hate messages to the public is another major problem many have highlighted in the past. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21.
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.
This year, the International Day is devoted to challenges and achievements of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
It contains a broad range of measures aimed at combating racism in all its manifestations, and underscores the human rights of all groups suffering from racial discrimination, emphasising their right to participate freely and equally in political, social, economic and cultural life.