The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a high-level meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and adopted a political declaration to carry forward the fight against racism and racial discrimination.
The Declaration was adopted against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on September 8, 2001.
In his opening remarks at the event on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all member states to take concrete actions, including policy measures, legislation and more granular data collection, to build on the current momentum against racism, reports Xinhua news agency.
“A movement for racial justice and equality has emerged with unprecedented force, reach and impact. This new awakening, often led by women and young people, has created momentum we must seize upon,” he said.
“Together, we must work to recognize the contemporary resonance of past crimes that continue to haunt our present: the lingering traumas, the transgenerational suffering, the structural inequalities so deeply rooted in centuries of enslavement and colonial exploitation. And we must reverse the consequences of generations of exclusion and discrimination, including their obvious social and economic dimensions through reparatory justice frameworks,” he said.
The 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action offers an important opportunity to reflect on the status quo and future actions, said Guterres.
Africans and people of African descent, minority communities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and so many others, all continue to confront hatred, stigmatization, scapegoating, discrimination, and violence. Xenophobia, misogyny, hateful conspiracies, white supremacy and Neo-Nazi ideologies are spreading — amplified in echo chambers of hate, he said.
“We are witnessing a troubling rise in anti-Semitism, a harbinger throughout history of discrimination against others. We must condemn, without reservation or hesitation, the racism and discrimination of growing anti-Muslim bigotry, the mistreatment of minority Christians, and other forms of intolerance around the world.”
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was meant to break the vicious cycle, in which discrimination leads to deprivation, and poverty deepens discrimination, he said.
“We can overcome these harmful afflictions and heal if, and only if, we stand together as one human family. Rich in diversity, equal in dignity and rights, united in solidarity.”
Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, said the international community has not done enough 20 years after the adoption of the Declaration.
“When the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted in 2001, it was done with emphasis to tackle racial discrimination and intolerance.
“Sadly, two decades later, the doctrine is still being pursued. This is not to say that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has failed, but rather that we have not done enough.
“We, as a global community, have not done enough to tackle the pervasiveness of racism, racial discrimination, intolerance and xenophobia. Tackling racism in all its forms is a moral responsibility for justice. Racism begets violence, displacement, and inequality. It lives on because we allow it to. It penetrates society because we fail to acknowledge diversity,” said Shahid.
At the high-level meeting, the UNGA adopted a political declaration to reaffirm that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and subsequent documents provide a comprehensive UN framework and solid foundation for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to reaffirm member states’ commitment to their full and effective implementation.