UN Commemorates 20 Years of Durban Declaration, Anti-Racism Platform

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and the DDPA Program of Action, the United Nations General Assembly held a meeting of heads of state and government with the theme “Recovery, Racial Justice and Equality for People of African descent.”

The Durban Declaration and Program of Action was adopted by consensus at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. The DDPA is a comprehensive, action-oriented document that contains concrete steps to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other intolerant actions related thereto.

The DDPA vision is holistic, addresses a wide range of issues and contains broad recommendations and practical steps. DDPA embodies the strong commitment of the international community to address all forms of racism at national, regional and international levels.

The recognition that no country can claim to be free from racism demonstrates that racism is a global problem, and that its treatment should be a universal endeavor.

UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said that although it was adopted twenty years ago, until now racism is still a global problem.

Abdulla Shahid |  (Photo: Courtesy/UN)

Abdulla Shahid | (Photo: Courtesy/UN)

“When adopted in 2001, the Durban Declaration and Program of Action was carried out under pressure to address racial discrimination and intolerance. Ironically twenty years later that doctrine is still being defended. Not that the Durban Declaration and its Program of Action have failed, but rather that we haven’t done enough. We, as a global community, are not doing enough to tackle widespread racism, racial discrimination, intolerance and xenophobia.”

Although the DDPA is not legally binding, it has strong moral value and serves as the basis for advocacy efforts around the world.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the UN General Assembly in New York City, September 21, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the UN General Assembly in New York City, September 21, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres commemorated the Durban Declaration by saying racism and racial discrimination still permeate institutions and the rise of anti-Muslim semitism and bigotry is widespread around the world.

“We are witnessing a troubling rise in anti-Semitism, demonstrating discrimination throughout history. We must strongly and unequivocally condemn racism and discrimination from growing anti-Muslim fanaticism, the ill-treatment of Christian minorities and other forms of intolerance around the world,” Guterres said.

South African President Cyrill Ramaphosa told the session that the United Nations should include the issue of recovering victims of the slave trade on its agenda.

“South Africa calls on the United Nations to include the issue of recovering victims of the slave trade on the agenda of the Durban Declaration. We support the adoption of specific measures, including affirmative action. And targeting financial assistance as restitution to communities whose ancestors were sold as slaves,” he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly session, Wednesday (22/9), at around 16.00. [em/ka]

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