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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


On 21 March, 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. The United Nations General Assembly later declared 21 March to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and called on the international community not only to commemorate that tragedy, but also to work together to combat racism and discrimination wherever they exist.

Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries but in all regions of the world, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings. 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 fueling ethnic hatred that may lead to genocide − all of which can destroy lives and fracture communities. New forms of discrimination have arisen, in association with certain scientific developments and the process of globalization.

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. In honor of this day, we have a new presentation, called Racism and Xenophobia, available on the Kirovohrad Oblast Library’s Window on America page.

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