International Day for the elimination of racial discrimination

Theme: Mitigating and countering of rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies


Statement by UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet


21 March 2019

The International Day for the elimination of racial discrimination is an occasion for all of us to renew our promise to the world's people that we will struggle – every day of every year – to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.    

Human equality is at the core of human rights. Racism is the opposite of everything the United Nations stands for.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All of us can contribute to the development and well-being of society.  

Today, in many parts of the world, we are seeing the rise of movements based on ideas of racial superiority. Their bedrock is the demonization of migrants and minorities, and they thrive on a sense of crisis, besiegement and threat.

Let´s be clear, these ideas of racial, religious, ethnic or national supremacy have no basis whatsoever in reality. The hatred of other races, other religious communities or migrants does not result from experience. For example, where voters have had extensive contact with migrants, the populist vote tends to be much lower than in places with few migrants and refugees.

Nationalism and racism offer no real solutions to the complex challenges societies face. They are based on conspiracy theories and amplified through social media.  These movements sow the seeds of rage, and they harvest hatred and violence. 

This nationalism is the very opposite of patriotism. It sharpens divisions, prepares violence and makes society more unsafe.

We all need to call out and openly condemn messages – especially political messages or discourses – which disseminate ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, or which incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  

You can care about your country and still care about the world.

You can care about your community, and your family, and respect the diversity of others.

 To promote one's own rights at the expense of others' is detrimental to all of society.

Our UN Human Rights Office will continue to take the strongest possible stand against racism, discrimination and intolerance of every kind, and I ask you to join us.

Stand up for human rights, and help us end racism.