States must take urgent, concerted action to achieve racial equality and stop using nationalist populist rhetoric to
stoke discrimination, says a group of UN human rights experts*. The appeal comes on the occasion of International Day
for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
“Less than a week ago, a white supremacist committed an Islamophobic terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch,
New Zealand, killing 50 people and injuring many others. This tragic event reminds us that racism, xenophobia and
religious hatred are deadly and that the result of ethno-nationalist populism and supremacist ideologies is racial
violence, exclusion and discrimination.
States must act immediately to stem the tide of hate and discrimination, to protect vulnerable populations and to ensure
Although we want to remain hopeful that all States will take seriously their obligations to eliminate racial
discrimination, we are dismayed by the role that public authorities continue to play in stoking racial discrimination
and intolerance by acts of commission and omission.
We have observed more than 50 International Days for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Each year, the UN calls
upon States to act immediately to end racism, to ensure equality and dignity, and to realise the provisions of the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Yet States’ politics and legislation
seldom reflect the urgency of this obligation.
Instead, States and leaders have deployed political rhetoric that demonises racialised groups and emboldens supremacist
ideologues. Some States even deny the existence of racial discrimination or minorities within their borders.
States must decide that they are willing to take their role seriously and must adopt the policies necessary to achieve
racial equality, in line with international human rights standards and including through frameworks such as the
International Decade for People of African Descent. Simply put, expedient politics of exclusion are incompatible with a
just domestic order, and ultimately States must eliminate their reliance on discriminatory, supremacist rhetoric.
We urge the public to recall that the work of fighting intolerance and discrimination is not for States and public
authorities alone. Every single person, especially those who enjoy racial privilege on a daily basis, must play their
part to put an end to the racism, xenophobia and related intolerance that prevail today.”