International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Brigidines acknowledge the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March.

Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the UN General Assembly called on the international community to increase its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.  21 March is marked  around the world  to remind everyone of the need to rid our societies of racial hatred.

Why 21st March?
The date commemorates the day, in 1960,  when a peaceful anti-apartheid protest rally in the South African township of Sharpeville* turned into a massacre when police opened fire on protesters, killing 69 people.





Racism is the process by which systems and policies, actions and attitudes create inequitable opportunities and outcomes for people based on race. Racism is more than just prejudice in thought or action. It occurs when this prejudice – whether individual or institutional – is accompanied by the power to discriminate against, oppress or limit the rights of others.

Racial discrimination and the legacies of slavery and colonialism continue to destroy lives and curtail opportunities, preventing billions of people from enjoying their full human rights and freedoms.

While International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination aims to raise awareness, promote educative practice, and campaign to dismantle racism in social hierarchies, some countries have chosen to focus on celebrating multicultural diversity:

Race Relations Day is celebrated every year in  New Zealand on March 21. It is a day aimed at celebrating and acknowledging the multicultural and racial differences within the country.

Harmony Week is celebrated in Australia and Harmony Day on 21 March. Harmony Day is an attempt to acknowledge the contributions of multicultural communities to Australian society. It is often celebrated with community festivals and local events with global food and music and traditional dress.  IDERD Australia – fact sheet

*In Sharpeville, Gauteng, South Africa, IDERD is marked as a Day of Remembrance and Mourning.



Read:  Racial justice – Workers’ rights:  Racial justice for democracy



SOURCES:  UN: UN Human Rights; UNESCO; UNESCO UK; Human Rights Commission Australia;  OHCHR.




“When we let exclusionary attitudes get the better of us,
and cooperate with exclusion, structures of  injustice keep going.” raised up together




“Every day, each and every one of us can stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.”  –  OHCHR