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European Monitoring Centre
on Racism and Xenophobia

Unity in the fight against racism and intolerance

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
21 March 2006

A statement by the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Today more than ever, it is crucial that we all take a strong stand against racism. We must remain vigilant and ready to take action against those who wish to divide and undermine our societies on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or belief. All forms of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsyism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia or other forms of discrimination, whether individual or institutional, must be confronted head on. A hate-motivated crime against members of one group is a crime against us all.

It is a cause of concern to us that 40 years after the UN designated this Day for the elimination of racial discrimination, we continue to be confronted by it in all spheres of our society. Recent reports by our three organisations – the EUMC, ECRI and ODIHR - have reconfirmed that many minority communities are still subject to various forms of racism, racial discrimination and racist violence. For many communities, the racist threat has increased. We need effective and proportionate measures to tackle all manifestations of racism. In many States the legislative framework against racial discrimination or violence is not yet in place, in others it still requires implementation. It must be applied effectively and visibly. Victims must know that their experiences of racism will be addressed seriously by authorities. Perpetrators of racist actions must know that their acts will not be tolerated by the society.

Firm rejection of the racist ideology is an imperative for us all. Equality, justice and respect for the human rights of all are common threads in our societies which reinforce the fight against racism. They are a central part of our commitment to each other. It is not just a matter for institutional action.

We must remain united in the fight against racism and win. We are damaging our future and denying our common values if we allow the racists to create an agenda in which their actions are acceptable.

Notes to editors:

21 March: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. 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 UN’s General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

German version