International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Article excerpt

Every year on March 21, the world observes International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD).

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 1963, states: Discrimination between human beings on the grounds of race, color, or ethnic origin is an offense to human dignity and shall be condemned as a denial of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations, and as a fact capable of disturbing peace and security among nations.

On March 21, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people (including some women and children) and wounded 180 others at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. Around 7,000 individuals had gathered to rally against apartheid and its "pass laws," which required all Africans to carry a passbook, enabling the South African government to restrict and monitor their whereabouts. Anyone found without a passbook could be arrested and detained for up to 30 days. The Sharpeville Massacre led the General Assembly of the United Nations to proclaim March 21 as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and call on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. …