International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorates the victims of the Sharpeville massacre of 21 March 1960, in which peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were senselessly killed. While this tragic event marked a turning point and ultimately ushered in the transition to democracy and equality in South Africa, the fight against racism continues to this day, everywhere.

Racial discrimination not only inflicts profound harm on individual victims, but also undermines the very fabric of peaceful and democratic societies. In a year where more than 2 billion voters are set to go to the polls it remains particularly important to address racial discrimination in the context of elections. Comprehensive efforts are required to safeguard voting rights, enhance diversity in political representation and fight hate speech on the campaign trial.

Our work needs to start at home. While the European Union unequivocally prohibits discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, recent reports from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reveal distressing levels of such discrimination within our societies. The EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 calls for enhanced enforcement of European law and concrete measures defined in national action plans. The EU Anti-Racism Coordinator remains essential to this joint work, alongside the full and meaningful participation of civil society.

Concerted action is needed from all of us to convert our legal frameworks into lived realities, in particular to ensure full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Around the world, our EU Delegations serve as our advocates on the ground and actively contribute to endeavours aimed at realising this obligation.

In far too many places, racial discrimination continues to erode the foundations of peace and security, by fuelling conflict, inequality and injustice. Every member of society benefits when racism is eradicated. On this day, let us renew our collective commitment to stand against racial discrimination in all its forms.