Fight against racism not yet won
March 21, 2003
Guyana today joins the rest of the world in observance of International Day against Racial Discrimination.
The Government Information Agency in a release yesterday stated that Guyana was party to six Human Rights Instruments, one of which is the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, which was ratified in 1997. According to the Convention, racial discrimination refers to “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights, and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
In his message to mark this day, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan noted that the fight against racism was not yet won, since forty years after the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance were still serious problems. Annan stated that the UN remains at the heart of efforts to address the plight of migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, people of African descent and other victims. According to Annan, those efforts “pay particular attention to education, in order to inculcate the values of equality, tolerance, diversity and respect for human rights in all members of society.”
GINA reported the Secretary General as calling on governments to provide clear policy direction by adopting “broad national action plans against terrorism.” He also noted that civil society has to play a complementary role in building inclusive societies, where diversity is seen as an asset, not a threat. On the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Annan urged all to “honour all past and present victims by intensifying our efforts to build a future free of this scourge - and world equality is a reality for all.”