The struggle against apartheid: lessons for today's world.

Author:Reddy, Enuga S.
Position:Racial Discrimination

The United Nations has been concerned with the issue of racial discrimination since its inception. The UN General Assembly adopted on 19 November 1946 during its first session a resolution declaring that "it is in the higher interests of humanity to put an immediate end to religious and so-called racial persecution and discrimination", and calling on "Governments and responsible authorities to conform both to the letter and to the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, and to take the most prompt and energetic steps to that end".

Racial discrimination became one of the main items on the United Nations agenda after African nations attained independence and after the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa on 21 March 1960 sensitized world opinion to the perils of apartheid and racial discrimination. In 1963, the Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which led to the International Convention in 1965. It proclaimed the International Year for Action to Combat Racial Discrimination in 1971 and the three Decades for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, starting in 1973, as well as the International Year of Mobilization against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. The United Nations also organized two world conferences against racial discrimination, more recently the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, in Durban, South Africa.

The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Human Rights have devoted thousands of meetings to the discussions on racial discrimination and adopted hundreds of resolutions. Other UN agencies, notably the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have made significant contributions to the common effort. Racial discrimination is now being condemned by all Governments, and racially discriminatory legislation has been abrogated by most Member States. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of independent experts monitoring the implementation of the International Convention, has had some success in persuading Governments to take further action. The progress made by these efforts should not be minimized. Yet, the Durban Conference pointed out with grave concern that, despite all the efforts of the international community...

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