International Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day

Recent incidents of racial discrimination, exemplified by reports from The Guardian detailing derogatory remarks made by Frank Hester, a British businessman and prominent donor to the Conservative Party, towards Diane Abbott, a British politician and member of the Labour Party, underscore the pressing necessity to address racism and foster inclusivity.

The annual UN sponsored International Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day, on March 21, commemorates the tragic 1960 Sharpeville shootings when 69 people died during a peaceful demonstration against South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid laws. 

Some 60 years on a 2023 survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) sadly reveals that racial discrimination remains a major issue in Europe.

Analysis of responses from over 6,700 people of African descent in 13 EU countries showed 45% of experienced racial discrimination in the previous five years, with 30% indicating they were harassed for racist reasons. In terms of employment, 34% had faced discrimination in the past.  In addition, because of rising prices and the cost of living, 33% of people of African descent were struggling to make ends meet and faced a greater risk of poverty, compared with 17% of the general population.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) plays a crucial role in addressing these issues, issuing a statement on December 7 against the rise of antisemitism. The Association's President, a former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and President of ECRI, emphasises the commitment to equality, justice, and respect for all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity.