INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
To commemorate International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights wishes to express that the promotion of equality and the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are essential for the realization of human rights and for the consolidation of the democracy and the rule of law in the hemisphere.
This March 21st offers the opportunity to celebrate and recall advances as well as examine the pending challenges for the elimination of racial discrimination.
Five years ago, during the Regional Conference of the Americas in Preparation for the World Conference against Racism, Racial discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Santiago de Chile, governments of the hemisphere advanced toward the establishment of a conceptual framework that guides the common task against social exclusion and racial discrimination in our region. The States recognized the multiracial, multi-ethnic, multicultural and pluralist nature of the Americas; They also admitted that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and distinct forms of intolerance aggravate the poverty, the marginalization and the social exclusion of individuals, groups and communities; they reaffirmed their commitment to protect and foment human rights and individual liberties of the indigenous people, the afro-descendants and other members of vulnerable groups. Finally, they recognized that racism and racial discrimination is an obstacle to the democratic development and the rule of law in the hemisphere.
Despite these clear parameters and important efforts of several governments, the scourge of racism and racial discrimination is still sorely affecting millions of people in the hemisphere. The members of the Afro-descendants communities find themselves among the groups most affected by poverty and extreme poverty in the hemisphere. The members of these communities are also victims of social marginalization, discrimination and violence. Profound differences persist in terms of access to labor, educational, health, social security opportunities in disfavor of afro-descendants. Social data such as life expectancy, infant mortality, level of schooling, access to the basic services such as drinkable water or electricity are inferior for afro-descendants, in comparison to the other social groups. Furthermore, in many cases, they bear the consequences of lack of entitlement of their traditional lands in where they live. In different countries, they are victims of excessive use of little force from the security forces or irregular armed groups.
Therefore, it is essential that the political advances reached translate into concrete results to benefit the historical vulnerable groups and eliminate racial discrimination. Thus, it is necessary that the States comply with the commitments assumed in instruments such as Program and Plan of Action proceeding from the Regional and World Conferences against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Santiago de Chile and Durban respectively.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination, Clare K. Roberts reiterates his commitment to promote the rights of the Afro-descendants and combat racial discrimination. The international system of human rights has been created and functions under the very basic premise of equality among all human being, consequently all discriminations are precluded. The principals of non discrimination and equal protection of the law are the fundamental bases of the major normative instruments of the international system of human rights protection. Its denial implicates the denial of the system in its totality.
Washington D.C., March 21, 2005