The United Nations recognizes the 1st of March as “Zero Discrimination Day'', affirming the universal principle that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. First observed on March 1, 2014, Zero Discrimination Day was launched by the initiative of UNAIDS director Michel Sidibé on World Aids Day in December 2013.
Centered around the principles of fairness, equality and justice, the focus of this commemoration is to shed light on the issue of discrimination in society today and ensure the reflection of equality in national legislation and practice of all member states of the UN.
Hence, states must strive towards ending gender based violence and ensure that women and girls, in addition to marginalized groups, are guaranteed equal access to education, health and employment, regardless of race, gender identity, age, physical ability, language or immigration status.
The celebration of Zero Discrimination Day affirms the urgent necessity in global adherence to basic human rights principles, which remains vital to development, especially considering that discrimination due to bias of gender and/or race remains a commonality in various communities around the world.
According to UNAIDS, "inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering economic and social development." Within that context, although the tragic effects of Covid-19 were widespread, the most vulnerable communities were disproportionately affected. Moreover, even considering the successful commencement of vaccine distribution, there remains great inequality in access to them.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights highlights that discrimination, whether social or structural, negatively affects an individuals income or educational opportunities. Moreover, the intersecting forms of discrimination may possibly result in inequalities in access to justice and health outcomes. The global pledge to reduce inequality within and between countries must be delivered on, as combatting inequalities in all its forms advances human rights in all facets of life and supports economic recovery, security and stability.
In celebration of this occasion, the Institute urges governments to dismantle structural inequalities through the adoption of just political, economic and social policies and repeal discriminatory national provisions.
Finally, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights appeals to national human rights institutions and civil society organizations to work towards safeguarding the rights of people, particularly those of disadvantaged communities, and thus ultimately ensuring the universal achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aiming at the well-being of all.