International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – 21st March 2012

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. 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, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

It is shameful that after decades of challenging racism that the football terraces are still the breeding ground for racism and intolerance (even catholics fighting with protestants). It seems that we have not evolved far enough for our brains  to respond at such a primeval level.

“Overcoming racism compels us to address public policies and private attitudes that perpetuate it. On this International Day, I call on Member States, international and non-governmental organizations, the media, civil society and all individuals to engage meaningfully in the promotion of the International Year for People of African descent – and to work together against racism whenever and wherever it occurs.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2011

And a message from Canada

Resources listed by HREA

Racial and ethnic discrimination occur on a daily basis, hindering progress for millions of people around the world. Racism and intolerance can take various forms − from denying individuals the basic principles of equality to fuelling ethnic hatred that may lead to genocide − all of which can destroy lives and fracture communities.

Since the Sharpeville massacre, substantial progress has been made in the struggle against racism. 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, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has been established. The Convention is now nearing universal ratification. Yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.

Source: United Nations

Selected learning materials

Learning Activities for Use With Young People to Explore the Issue of Discrimination
These five lesson activities, developed by Amnesty International, explore the issue of discrimination using discussion, group exercise, project work and a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The international basis for intercultural education including anti-racist and human rights education
The goal of this publication is to make international human rights treaties more known, particularly those that consider teaching and education as effective means to shape international human rights standards into reality.

The Struggle Against Discrimination: A Collection of International Instruments Adopted by the United Nations System (by UNESCO)
This collection of international instruments against discrimination consists of the full text of 27 treaties and declarations from  the UN system, the International Labour Organisation and UNESCO. The book also includes two introductory essays.

United Nations Guide for Minorities
This guide has been prepared with a view to assisting minorities in understanding how to seek protection of their rights through the different procedures existing at the international and regional levels. Practical advice is also given on how to take legal action where members of minorities consider that their rights under a particular treaty have been violated.

Using the international human rights system to combat racial discrimination. A Handbook by Amnesty International
This handbook is intended to be of use to non-governmental organisations and others who wish to address and combat racial discrimination.

International and regional standards on combating racial discrimination:

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)

International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid(1976)

UNESCO Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice (1978)

Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992)

Useful links

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

Durban Review Conference 2009

Racism. Stop it! initiative (Canada)

World Conference Against Racism (2001)

Links to organisations that are involved in preventing and combating racism and racial discrimination

Other resources on supporting diversity:

Homophobia – Let’s Tackle It

Homophobia - Let's Tackle It




  • Teacher's PackTeacher’s Pack



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This DVD education pack has been produced by Show Racism the Red Card. The DVD includes two films featuring interviews with sports stars, actors and young people who talk about their experiences of homophobia and discuss ways to combat it.







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