Speaking at a UN General Assembly event to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, António Guterres noted that “the deprivation of people’s basic human rights…continues to be a driver of persistent inequality”.
He argues that racism destabilises communities around the world, “undermines democracy, erodes the legitimacy of governments, and hinders an inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.”
The UN chief drew attention to the links between racism and gender inequality, pointing out that the discriminations faced by women of colour and minority groups overlap and intersect.
“No country is immune to intolerance or hatred,” he continued.
“Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent, minority communities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, and so many others – all continue to face stigma, scapegoating, discrimination and violence,” Mr. Guterres said.
“We all have a responsibility to engage in solidarity with equality and human rights movements around the world. And we must show solidarity with all those fleeing conflicts,” the UN chief said, urging the world to “stand up against hate speech – offline and online.”
He stressed the need to defend civic space by protecting freedom of expression and assembly, which he said are “the foundation of pluralistic, peaceful and inclusive societies”.
Guterres called for a rights-based social contract “to fight poverty and exclusion, invest in education and rebuild trust and social cohesion”.
“We must listen to those who experience injustice and ensure that their concerns and demands are at the center of efforts to dismantle discriminatory structures,” he insisted.
He advocated for “restorative justice” to achieve racial equality and substantially atone for centuries of slavery and colonialism.