On the celebration marking 2012 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, top United Nations officials today raised the issue on the dangerous bond between racism and conflict.
UN officials also urge the global community to address grievances before they explode into catastrophic conflict.
According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, racism and racial discrimination have been used as weapons to cause fear and hatred.
In extreme cases, ruthless leaders instigate prejudice to incite genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Mr. Ban added.
This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination theme focuses on racism and conflict.
On 21 March each year, the UN marks the day in 1960 when dozens of peaceful protesters were killed by police in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against apartheid.
“Racism undermines peace, security, justice and social progress.” – Mr. Ban
He says it is a violation of human rights that tears at individuals and rips apart the social fabric.
The Secretary-General further noted that the UN was contributing to the global fight against racism by fostering inclusion, dialogue and respect for human right.
Where societies have been shattered by conflict, the United Nations strives to promote peace processes and peacebuilding that foster inclusion, dialogue, reconciliation and human rights, Mr. Ban highlighted.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay cited a survey which stated that 55 per cent of violent conflicts between 2007 and 2009 had violations of minority rights or ethnic tensions at their core.
“The relationship between racism and conflict was “a deep-rooted, well-established one.” -Ms. Pillay
She stresses that leaving the dangerous societal problems of prejudice and racism to simmer on the back burner creates a real risk of explosive conflicts erupting, years or decades later.
Racism and prejudice can provide, propel, and perpetuate the narratives that create and sustain conflict – whether in the developed or developing world, she stressed.
In addition to a new website, this year’s drive to eliminate racism has also moved to the world of social networking, where the Organization has established a Facebook campaign with pages in English, French and Spanish and is encouraging followers to tweet their support against the scourge of intolerance.
UN says racism and xenophobia still ravage contemporary society and no state is immune to their effects.
Every year since 1966, 21 March is observed globally as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is annually the opportunity to call on the international community and the individual countries to step up their efforts toward the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and violence, including discrimination on the basis of caste.