Thu, 21 Oct 2021

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on all member states to take concrete actions, including policy measures, legislation and more granular data collection, to build on the current momentum against racism.

"A movement for racial justice and equality has emerged with unprecedented force, reach and impact. This new awakening, often led by women and young people, has created momentum we must seize upon," he told a high-level meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

"Together, we must work to recognize the contemporary resonance of past crimes that continue to haunt our present: the lingering traumas, the transgenerational suffering, the structural inequalities so deeply rooted in centuries of enslavement and colonial exploitation. And we must reverse the consequences of generations of exclusion and discrimination, including their obvious social and economic dimensions through reparatory justice frameworks," he said.

The 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action offers an important opportunity to reflect on the status quo and future actions, said Guterres.

Racism and racial discrimination still permeate institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society. Structural racism and systematic injustice still deny people their fundamental human rights, he said.

Africans and people of African descent, minority communities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and so many others, all continue to confront hatred, stigmatization, scapegoating, discrimination, and violence. Xenophobia, misogyny, hateful conspiracies, white supremacy and Neo-Nazi ideologies are spreading -- amplified in echo chambers of hate, he said.

From glaring infringements to creeping transgressions, human rights are under assault. Racism is often the cruel catalyst. The linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable, said Guterres.

"We are witnessing a troubling rise in anti-Semitism, a harbinger throughout history of discrimination against others. We must condemn, without reservation or hesitation, the racism and discrimination of growing anti-Muslim bigotry, the mistreatment of minority Christians, and other forms of intolerance around the world."

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was meant to break the vicious cycle, in which discrimination leads to deprivation, and poverty deepens discrimination, he said. "We can overcome these harmful afflictions and heal ... if, and only if, we stand together as one human family. Rich in diversity, equal in dignity and rights, united in solidarity."

"At a time when we feel more divided than ever, let us unite around our common humanity. Let us remember what Nelson Mandela said: no one is born a racist. People must learn to hate. But if they can learn to hate, Mandela went on to say, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Let us heed his hopeful words today and re-commit ourselves to this essential purpose," said Guterres.

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