This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The Convention has proven to be an effective tool, by holding Governments accountable to their citizens and on the international stage. Based on the Convention, many countries have enacted national laws and policies for the prevention and eradication of racial discrimination. This is also the case for us: the European Union and the Member States have robust legislation and policies in place.
Yet, despite progress, too many people are victims of racial harassment and hate speech, because of the colour of their skin, their ethnic origins or religion. This is still true in many places around the world, including in our European Union.
In the year of the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention, we call for its universal ratification and all countries that still have not accepted the individual complaints procedures to do so as early as possible. Advancing with the implementation of the Convention goes also hand in hand with the pursuit of global commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Within the EU, we continue to fight against any pattern or manifestation of racial discrimination and hatred, and to apply all means to respect diversity. In our external action, we keep engaging with partner countries, civil society representatives, international organisations as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and regional organisations to promote non-discrimination, social inclusion and equality for all, and the universal respect for the prohibition of racial discrimination,” was stated by Federica Mogherini.
We consistently support the UN mechanisms established after the World Conference against Racism in 2001 and remain the biggest voluntary contributors to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) which has an important mandate in fighting racism and xenophobia. At the regional level we work together with the Council of Europe, on the integration of Roma people to promote their active participation in decision-making processes. We also continue investing at the grassroots’ level through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights with more than €206 million targeted at civil society organizations combatting discrimination in all its forms throughout the world.
The recently adopted new EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-discrimination in External Action confirm that affording this matter is a priority for the EU and that we are determined to play a leading role regarding non-discrimination through our policies internally and externally. It is a political duty for all the institutions, but it is most of all a cultural challenge that we can win only together.