International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be celebrated by the people all over the world on 21st of March.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is commemorated every year on 21st of March by the people all across the world in order to remove the racial inequality among people of different country, states, society or community.


The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.

In 1979, the General Assembly adopted a programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21 March, would be organized annually in all States.

Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and we have built an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Convention is now nearing universal ratification, yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.

Major UN Meetings and events

In 2001, the World Conference against Racism produced the most authoritative and comprehensive programme for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. In April 2009, the Durban Review Conference examined global progress made in overcoming racism and concluded that much remained to be achieved. Undoubtedly, the greatest accomplishment of the conference was the renewed international commitment to the anti-racism agenda.

In September 2011, the United Nations General Assembly held a one day high-level meeting in New York to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. There, world leaders adopted by consensus a political declaration proclaiming their “strong determination to make the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the protection of the victims thereof, a high priority for [their] countries.”

Coming as it did during the 2011 International Year for People of African Descent, the 10th anniversary was a chance to strengthen political commitment in fighting racism and racial discrimination.

On 23 December 2013, the General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent commencing 1 January 2015 and ending on 31 December 2024, with the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development“.

Why Celebrate?

Almost 69 people were killed by the police in the fire to oppose the apartheid passed laws in 1960 at a peaceful demonstration in the Sharpeville, South Africa. It was then declared by the United Nations General Assembly to the international community as an international day for the elimination of racial discrimination in the year 1966 in order to remove all types of the racial discrimination.

On the same day means 21st of March is celebrated each year as the Human Rights Day in the South Africa which has been officially declared as the public holiday. This event is being commemorated by the people worldwide on annual basis to remember all those people who had lost their lives in opposing the Apartheid regime or fighting for the democracy as well as demanding the equal human rights in the South Africa. The Sharpeville Massacre of the South Africa is the main place during the Apartheid regime of 1960, 21st March for which the day is declared as the public holiday.

It is celebrated annually for increasing the awareness of the common public for the equal Human Rights as well as highlighting all the existing problems of racism in the field of sports in various countries of the world. It was considered that sports are the better medium for combating the racism and racial discrimination among people all over the world. Olympic Games were also established aiming the harmonious development of the man from different races as well as to resolve the social tensions and conflicts through the sports medium.

The 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the UN Human Rights Council and The UNESCO Charter of Physical Education and Sport had supported, in collaboration with the intergovernmental organizations (international and regional sports federations, International Olympic Committee etc), and urged states to combat and eliminate the racism through the sports.

Variety of programmes and activities was started by the General Assembly in 1979 for eliminating the racism and racial discrimination. After years of struggle eliminating the racism, the apartheid system in the South Africa has been removed and variety of laws or practices supporting racism in many countries has been eliminated.

How To Celebrated?

Variety of activities and events are organized while celebrating this event at the international level in many countries all over the world. A direct webcast is carried out from the UN headquarters on the day of celebration identifying all the special activities against racism by the UN leaders. This event celebration provides opportunity to the young people aiming to put their own opinions to fight for racism as well as promote tolerance.

A long debate among the young people on the related subjects takes place to discuss the human rights and the elimination of racial discrimination. Other activities are also organized such as essays writing, photo exhibitions, publishing related articles to promote and aware people to fight against the racial discrimination.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Themes

  • 2008: European Action Week against Racism 2008
  • 2009: Respect for differences
  • 2010: ‘Put Racism Offside’ and ‘Disqualify Racism’
  • 2011: Racism in Canada: Fact or fiction
  • 2012: Racism and Conflict
  • 2013: Racism and Sport
  • 2014: ‘Racism and Conflict’ and ‘The Role of Leaders in Combating Racism and Racial Discrimination’
  • 2015: Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today
  • 2016: Challenges and achievements of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
  • 2017: United Against Racism: Dignity and Justice for All
  • 2018: Promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination
  • 2019: Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies
  • 2020: Recognition, justice and development: The midterm review of the International Decade for People of African Descent

Check Also

Van Mahotsava

Van Mahotsava (July 1-7) Information

“If a tree is saved even at cost of one’s head, it’s worth it” said …