UNESCO rallies front against racism and discrimination

UNESCO will organize a Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination on Monday 22 March (10 am to 5 pm, Central European Time), the day following International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The theme of the Forum, a high priority for UNESCO, is particularly timely in the context of Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a magnifier of structural social issues including discrimination.

Co-hosted by UNESCO and the Republic of Korea, the Forum will seek to identify policy actions and benchmarks against racism and discrimination, in line with international standards and supported by the findings of evidence-based research in the social and human sciences. It will also inform the preparation of UNESCO’s Roadmap against Racism and Discrimination.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will open the Forum, and will be joined by the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurría. Participants will include leaders, advocates and intellectuals from all over the world among them Martin Luther King III, Forest Whitaker (actor and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador), Michelle Bachelet (High Commissioner for Human Rights), Yvonne Aki Sawyerr (Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone), Ada Colau (Mayor of Barcelona Spain), Carolina Cosse (Mayor of Montevideo (Uruguay) and Kailash Satyarthi (Nobel Peace Laureate), as well as ministers, policy makers, experts, members of civil society, the private sector and the media.

The recent upsurge in structural racial and ethnicity-based discrimination, including racial violence, as seen in global protest movements, require a renewed commitment from the international community to build a strong front to thwart racism and discrimination.

Direct and indirect discrimination, targeting groups and individuals based on their ethnicity, origin, identity (including cultural and religious), gender, age, socio-economic status, physical ability, and other unjust criteria, have proliferated in societies, exacerbating inequalities and exclusion, especially within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants will examine ways to reinforce the work of UNESCO and its large network of partners in this area, and spotlight the urgent need to overcome discrimination, in line with UNESCO Member States’ recently adopted “Global Call against Racism.” The Global Call invites countries to “pursue initiatives aimed at strengthening local, regional and global cooperation to combat racism and discrimination.”

A new UN stamp “United against racism and discrimination” will also be issued. It uses the visual identity of the UNESCO Master Class Series against Racism and Discriminations.

Live streaming of the Forum will be accessible on YouTube.

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