• GIHR

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On the grim day of March 21st - 1960, as a result of excessive use of force, the police killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. Protestors expressed dissatisfaction with the apartheid pass laws, an institutionally discriminatory system designed to segregate the population, severely limiting the movements of African citizens.

In an effort to ensure the elimination of racial discrimination and violence in all it’s forms, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 21st of March as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in accordance with Resolution 2142 (XXI).

As Covid-19 quickly spread across the globe in the early months of 2020, a parallel pandemic swiftly followed suit. Hatred and violence manifested in various way, illuminating the glaringly conspicuous truth that many systems and structures are deeply rooted in racism and prejudice.

Moreover, the pandemic disproportionally affected the youth and those of minority backgrounds, as multiple factors contributed to the hindrance of their individual and social empowerment including racial discrimination, limited employment opportunities and disruption to the education system.

Therefore, the theme this year is "Youth Standing Up Against Racism", engaging the public with the hashtag #FightRacism, with the general aim of promoting global tolerance, equality and fostering an attitude opposing racial prejudice and discrimination.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. In acknowledgement of that universal truth, celebrating this day provides a chance for states to combine efforts to combat discrimination and all it’s manifestations, as well as highlight areas that require immediate attention and restructuring.

The Geneva Institute for Human Rights would like to use this opportunity to shed light on the reality faced by those who remain victims of the injustice and stigma of racism and stresses on the dire need to implement provisions of international treaties and conventions, as well as adopt measures to ensure the eradication of prejudicial practices.


Racism is a global evil. It transcends generations and contaminates societies. - UN Secretary General, António Guterres

​Finally, the Institute appeals to all the international community to adopt a unified and inclusive approach to ensuring that concrete measures are produced, taking marginalized communities, including but not limited to refugees, immigrants and minorities, into account.