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  • Flavie Denelle

Elimination of Racial Discrimination: one step towards the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

21st March is not only the start of spring, but is also the United Nations (UN)’s international day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day is important because it raises awareness on a kind of discrimination that appears in many parts of everyday life, such as housing and job hiring.


Young people from different origins united together regardless of their differences. Retrieved from Wix.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human is born free and equal in rights and dignity (Article 1). Every person is thus entitled to human rights without any discrimination. Furthermore, everybody is allowed to have all the rights and freedoms stated in the Declaration without any distinction of race, physical features etc. (Article 2).

Nevertheless, discrimination based on race remains prevalent in all societies and appears in many forms: racism, xenophobia and other types of intolerance. Migrants, refugees and people of African descent are mostly targeted. Western countries in Western and Central Europe and the United States (US) are relatively tolerant of racial differences. This is, however, not the case of ethnically diverse countries in Asia: a study by two Swedish economists combined with research from The Washington Post showed that nations such as the Philippines and Indonesia for example show more skepticism of diversity due to the complicated histories of all the racial groups with each other.

Retrieved from The Washington Post, Max Fisher (May 15, 2013).

But racial discrimination can still happen in European countries as well. A study in The Netherlands showed that people are still discriminated in hiring if they appear to have North-African or Arabic roots. This is a problem because it is illegal to discriminate people based on their race. In the seafood sector this is also an issue. Either workers are forced to work or workers are discriminated. FairAgora Asia believes that it is important to tackle these issues in Southeast-Asia more specifically through carefully developed social metrics and partnerships.

Fair recruitment procedures and non-discrimination should be on the agenda of every company, organization and government. Consequently, it is very important that states take comprehensive and efficient measures to combat racism, racial discrimination and other types of intolerance. States should therefore also promote inclusion, tolerance, and respect for diversity in all sectors.

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