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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed with a series of events and activities worldwide on March 21 each year. The day aims to remind people of racial discrimination’s negative consequences. It also encourages people to remember their obligation and determination to combat racial discrimination.

The International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination is a chance for people voice opinions promote equality across backgrounds and cultures.
The International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination is a chance for people voice opinions promote equality across backgrounds and cultures.
©iStockphoto.com/skynesher

What Do People Do?

Various activities and events are arranged in many countries worldwide on this day. Previous activities included a webcast from the UN headquarters on March 21 featuring special appearances of UN leaders. Such events aim to help young people voice their opinions, find ways to fight racism, and promote tolerance in their communities and in their lives.

Young people also have the option of posting their opinions regarding discussions on human rights and racial discrimination at Voices of Youth, which is UNICEF’s online bulletin board for young people. Contributors to Voices of Youth come from different parts of the world including Jamaica, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines.  Other activities include essays, photo projects, and published articles that promote the fight against racial discrimination.

Public Life

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is not a public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Background

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established six years after an event, known as the Sharpeville tragedy or Sharpeville massacre, which captured worldwide attention. This event involved police opening fire and killing 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa, March 21, 1960.

The UN General Assembly called on the international community to increase its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination when it proclaimed the day as a UN Day of observance in 1966. It also called on all world states and organizations to participate in a program of action to combat racism and racial discrimination in 1983. It held the World Conference against Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. The UN continues its work to fight against all forms of racial intolerance.

Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map depicts the area of concern to the UN in achieving its main purpose, peace and security. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday Type
SunMar 212010International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
MonMar 212011International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
WedMar 212012International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
ThuMar 212013International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
FriMar 212014International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
SatMar 212015International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
MonMar 212016International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
TueMar 212017International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
WedMar 212018International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
ThuMar 212019International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance
SatMar 212020International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationUnited Nations observance

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is annually observed on March 21.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationEnglish
Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Discriminación RacialSpanish
היום בינלאומי לביעור אפליה גזעיתHebrew
اليوم العالمي لمكافحة التمييز العنصريArabic
국제 인종 차별 철폐의 날Korean
Internationaler Tag für die Beseitigung der RassendiskriminierungGerman

List of dates for other years

United Nation Holidays on March 21, 2017

Fun Holiday on March 21, 2017

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