Recalling the Durban declaration to fight against racial discrimination.

Wednesday, 08 September 2021
Racism is a global phenomenon. Racism is a global phenomenon.

Social injustice has existed for long and persists until today. One of the most common forms of social injustice that the world continues to face is racism – a global phenomenon that affects not only a group of people or a community, but every nation.

Throughout history, racism has created conflicts and given rise to hatred in the world, disrupting mutual understanding and peace between individuals. It keeps taking new forms as if it has been likened to a virus that mutates, taking on different shapes as it adapts to a changing world. Still worse, over time, it continues to gain more and more influence.

Over the past year, after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the phenomenon has reached an important milestone and the rate of racial discrimination has significantly increased. The pandemic resulted in dangerous misinformation, hate speech and violence against certain races and nationalities. More recently, with the spread of the pandemic, a high rate of discrimination against Asian people has been reported, mainly against Asian Americans. More and more Asia-descent people have been victims of hatred, bias and hate crimes. In March 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly warned of a potential surge in COVID-19-related hate crimes against Asian-Americans. Similarly, between March 19 and December 31, 2020, Stop AAPI Hate has received 2,808 reported incidents of racism and discrimination targeting Asian Americans across the U.S.

Since then, anti-Asian movement-based incidents have been one of the major global concerns. In late 2020, the United Nations reacted by issuing a report detailing the alarming level of racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian Americans across the U.S. since the outbreak of Covid-19 and by calling for a global fight against racism. Global efforts to combat racism and discrimination have been already put into effect after the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, was officially declared. It is a drafted document recalling mainly the principles of equality and non-discrimination in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (Durban Declaration, UN).

Back to the “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” in March 21, which aimed to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination and called on people to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes, a resolution has been adopted by the General Assembly. This consists of a global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The United Nations General Assembly’s action plans include bringing world leaders together for a one-day meeting in New York to mark the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action which will take place this September.

Apart from the Durban Declaration, there is also the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a resolution that was ratified by General Assembly on 21 December 1965 that still serves as today’s important resolution in combating racism and discrimination of any forms, like the case of anti-Asian violence. The CERD underlines the U.N. human rights mechanisms which provide a valuable framework for understanding the scope of state obligations to combat racial discrimination.

Recalling the CERD and the Durban Declaration may be of a paramount help in tackling discrimination against people of African descent, Asian Americans, and today’s overall racism.

Sources: United Nations / Stop AAPI Hate: New
Data on Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Against Elderly
and Total National Incidents in 2020 / United
Nations Humans Rights / Durban Declaration

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