International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21st.On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).


This year's theme was chosen by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to highlight the problem of racism in sports, which remains a disturbing occurrence in many parts of the world, as well as to raise awareness of the role sports can play in combating racism and racial discrimination.

Both sports and human rights share many fundamental values and objectives. The principles underpinning the Olympic Charter, such as non-discrimination and equality, are also the bedrock of human rights. The Olympic Charter notes that the "goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."

According to the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace, well-designed sport activities that incorporate the best values of sport – self-discipline, respect for one's opponent, fair play, and teamwork – can help integrate marginalized groups and teach individuals the values necessary to prevent and resolve social tensions and conflicts.

The UNESCO Charter of Physical Education and Sport states that "every human being has a fundamental right of access to physical education and sport." 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 these ideals.

Visit the Let’s Fight Racism campaign on Facebook to share ideas for combatting racism in your community.



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