For information only - not an official document

21 March 2019

The Secretary-General

Message on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

21 March 2019

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an occasion for all of us to renew our promise to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred.  The recent massacre at two mosques in New Zealand is the latest tragedy rooted in such poison. 

No country or community is immune from racial and religious hatred and the terrorism of bigots.  I am deeply alarmed by the current rise of xenophobia, racism and intolerance.  Hate speech is entering the mainstream, spreading like wildfire through social media and radio.  It is spreading in liberal democracies and authoritarian States alike. 

These dark forces menace democratic values, social stability and peace.  When people are attacked, physically, verbally or on social media because of their race, religion or ethnicity, all of society is diminished.  It is crucial for us all to join hands, stand up and defend the principles of equality and human dignity. 

We must all work harder to repair the fissures and polarization that are so prevalent in our societies today.  We must nurture mutual understanding and invest in making diversity a success.  And we must counter and reject political figures who exploit differences for electoral gain.

We must also ask why so many people feel excluded and tempted by messages of intolerance against others.  We need to engage everyone in dismantling the harmful and specious notion of racial superiority.  Even today, decades after the pseudo-science of the Nazis contributed to the Holocaust, the world is seeing the persistence - and even a surge - of neo-Nazi thinking and white supremacy.  We must bury such lies once and for all.

Today let us all resolve to fight racism and discrimination wherever it occurs.  Let us reflect on how we can promote non-discrimination in every country and at every level.  We are all connected by our humanity.  We are all equal. We should all be looking out for each other's welfare.

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