Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March 2017
GENEVA (20 March 2017) – The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an annual reminder to us all to do more to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, hate speech and hate crimes.
But 21 March needs to be more than a reminder. People of African descent continue to be victims of racist hate crimes and racism in all areas of life. Anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head from the US to Europe to the Middle East and beyond. Muslim women wearing headscarves face increasing verbal, and even physical, abuse in a number of countries. In Latin America, indigenous peoples continue to endure stigmatization, including in the media.
The dangers of demonising particular groups are evident across the world. Xenophobic riots and violence targeting immigrants have recently flared again in South Africa. In South Sudan, polarised ethnic identities – stoked by hate speech – have brought the country to the brink of all-out ethnic war. In Myanmar, the Rohingya Muslim community, long denigrated as “illegal immigrants,” have suffered appalling violations.