Racial discrimination is a poison that diminishes individuals and societies, perpetuates inequality and feeds anger, bitterness and violence. The fight against racism and all forms of discrimination is a mainstay of peace and social cohesion, especially in our increasingly diverse societies. On the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, WAY calls on young people, member organisations and partners to step up their efforts to build a more inclusive, more giving and fairer world.
The UN General Assembly, adopted 26 October 1966, proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to be commemorated annually. 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".
Proclaiming the day in 1966 which signifies the struggle to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
Observed on the 21st March yearly, to remind people of the consequences of racial discrimination. It also encourages people to remember their obligation to combat racial discrimination. It is a day of great significance in the history of the struggle to end the policy of Apartheid which segregated people on the basis of their race and skin colour as well as denied the basic human rights of the minority.
This year’s theme is Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies. Racist extremist movements based on ideologies that seek to promote populist, nationalist agendas are spreading in various parts of the world, fueling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, often targeting migrants and refugees as well as people of African descent.
In its recent resolution on eliminating racism, the United Nations General Assembly reiterated that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies. The resolution also emphasized that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.
We at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), deem that racism is taught, and, thus, believe that the best way to combat this issue is to approach the concern with solidarity and harmony. We seek to promote global citizenship education and develop tools and expertise capable of enhancing mutual understanding, critical thinking and intercultural dialogue.
We, therefore, encourage the young people and youth leaders, to unite and incorporate the ethics of respect, equality and solidarity in daily activities.