Alberta Human Rights Information Service March 18, 2015
March 21st marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
March 21st marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In recognition of this day, Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, shares a video message.
This day in history
On March 21, 1960, 69 people were killed and over 300 injured at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa when police opened fire on unarmed protestors who were opposing the apartheid "pass laws," a repressive tool used to control the movements of black South Africans. In 1966, in response to this horrific event, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed March 21st the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
This significant day honours those killed and injured at the Sharpeville Massacre. Although the apartheid system in South Africa has since been dismantled and advances in human rights laws and practices in countries around the world have been made, various forms of racism and discrimination continue to exist.
In an effort to monitor global efforts to eliminate racism and racial discrimination, the UN established the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is implemented through the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This committee calls on Member States to report on their progress towards improving racial equality and non-discrimination. Canada's most recent reports to the United Nations on measures we have taken to give effect to the Convention, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Reports of Canada on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, were submitted to the UN on January 27, 2011.
This year's theme
Recognizing the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us of the continued need to eradicate all forms of racism and racial discrimination. The theme for 2015 is "Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today." From the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination webpage, UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon is calling on "all people, especially political, civic and religious leaders, to strongly condemn messages and ideas based on racism, racial superiority or hatred as well as those that incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
To learn more about this year's theme, visit the United Nation's website.
Preventing racism and racial discrimination in Alberta
On March 21st, we are encouraged to acknowledge this important day and reflect on the human rights violations from our past in order to learn from them and build a province where racial discrimination and intolerance are not accepted.
This past year we have seen too many examples of continued racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, hatred and intolerance. We all have a responsibility to speak out again racism and discrimination and live the values set out in the Alberta Human Rights Act. This provincial legislation promotes equality, recognizes diversity and protects people from discrimination in employment, accommodation and services.
Events marking March 21
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day in which all Albertans can celebrate the accomplishments made in preventing and countering racism and discrimination and recommit to the work that remains.
You are encouraged to participate in the events taking place in communities throughout the province to mark this important day.
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