International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

“The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an opportunity to renew our commitment to building a world of justice and equality where xenophobia and bigotry do not exist. We must learn the lessons of history and acknowledge the profound damage caused by racial discrimination.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

We must continue to fight racism everywhere, every day – throughout the year.   But today, the 21st  March, is a special day, proclaimed by the General Assembly in October 1966 as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  In Australia they have aptly named today Harmony Day, with the message, “everyone belongs.”

This year’s theme “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today” aims to explore the root causes of racism and racial discrimination and will stress the essential need to learn the lessons history has provided in order to combat racism and racial discrimination today.  This will be a focus point of debate on the state of racial discrimination worldwide, in meetings held today in both in New York and Geneva.

As a society we must condemn discrimination. Human rights activist, Ariana Yaftali  says, “If you say, ‘I’m not a racist’ or ‘No racism exists here’ you’re brushing it off.

“This day is an opportunity for us to work harder to continue advocating for a place that is welcoming, where we can live with peace, dignity and respect for one another. We’ve got a long way to go.”

Cultural diversity in Northern Ireland is a source of great pride, but this day reminds each of us that there is always more we can do to promote acceptance, equality and harmony.

Today on Harmony Day (as they say down under), it is important to remember that racism is learned, no-one is born a racist. Equally, nobody has the right to discriminate against another human being because of their skin colour, language, accent, place of birth, lifestyle, their origin, traditions or religious beliefs.  Racial discrimination is a problem that affects us all, and we all have an obligation to put an end to it.

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