“Let us honour the memory of those who died in Sharpeville and other racist incidents by redoubling our efforts to eradicate all forms of racism and racial discrimination. Let us translate good intentions into legal standards and the will to uphold them. Above all, let us cherish the rich diversity of humankind and respect the inherent dignity and equality of every human being.”
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us of our collective responsibility for promoting and protecting this ideal.
March 21 is designated by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s a day observed all around the world to focus attention on the problems of racism and the need to promote racial harmony.
The UN made this designation in 1966 to mark a tragic event that took place on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa when 69 peaceful demonstrators were killed during a protest against apartheid.
Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and an international framework for fighting racism has been built, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Canada was one of the first countries to support the UN initiative and launched its first annual campaign against racial discrimination in 1989.