March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationParis - UNESCO will celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21*, with a series of events for the general public, including debates, round table discussions, films and young people's workshops.
During the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. on March 20 (room XI), the documentary South Africa: Beyond a Miracle, about how the country is managing its post-apartheid period, will be shown. A debate will follow in the presence of the film's assistant producer, Charles Meyer and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa's deputy minister of home affairs.
On Friday, March 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (room XII), a panel of representatives of four European cities belonging to the "Cities United Against Racism" network will meet: Hans Hesselmann, director of the Human Rights Bureau in Nuremberg (Germany); Stéphane Peu, deputy-mayor of Saint-Denis, near Paris; Giuseppe Caccia, deputy-mayor with responsibility for social policy in Venice (Italy); and Joan Clos, mayor of Barcelona (Spain).
At the same time (rooms III, IV, VI, IX), young members of UNESCO Clubs and pupils from schools in the Paris area will participate in workshops focusing on the content of school textbooks, the media and advertising (in partnership with the CLEMI, the teaching and information media liaison centre). They will also draft a declaration on racial discrimination and present it at 2:30.
The documentary Journey of Man, produced by the National Geographic Channel, will be shown from 3:30 to 5:30 (room XII). This film is an investigation into humanity’s common genetic heritage. A debate with the writer and director, Spencer Wells, will follow.
From 6:00 to 8:00, a round table on "Image and Discrimination: the Multi-Ethnic Society in the Audiovisual Mirror" will focus on the obstacles to and progress towards an audiovisual landscape that is more representative of multicultural societies. Participants will include Perrine Fontaine, director of fiction programming at France 3; Cécile Roger-Machart, programming advisor at France 2; the Guadeloupe-born actor Jacques Martial and the Martinique-born actor Thierry Desrosesin, who perform in the French television series Navarro (TF1) and PJ (France 2), respectively; the actress Jade Nguyen, born in Vietnam; Nacer Kettane, president of Radio Beur and Beur TV; Nasser Negrouche, a journalist specializing in these issues; the director of the study and action group against discrimination (which runs 114, a free hotline that handles discrimination complaints); a representative of France's Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisual (CSA); and a representative of the National Cinema Centre (CNC).
The day will end with a performance of the play I Had a Dream by the Les Amigrés theatre company from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. (room I). This work is about racial prejudice and “otherness” in multicultural societies.
Committed to the struggle against racial discrimination since it was created, UNESCO will display posters against racism as well as publications on the history of slavery, tolerance, cultural diversity and monographs on specific cultures (corridor between rooms X and XII).
For its part, the UNESCO Associated School Project Network (ASPNet) will launch a new internet site on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. A joint initiative between UNESCO, the British Council, the Norwegian government and the NGOAnti-Slavery International, which is hosting the site, it provides a mine of information ranging for teachers and learners, from historical documents and accounts by slaves themselves of their ordeal, to class plans and examples of best practice. From March 21, it can be accessed at www.unesco.org/education/asp
*In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to commemorate the day in 1960 when police killed 69 people in Sharpeville (South Africa), during a peaceful demonstration against the pass laws imposed under apartheid. The General Assembly also voted a resolution enjoining the international community to step up its efforts to wipe out all forms of racial discrimination [resolution 2142 (XXI)].
In 2001, the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which took place in Durban (South Africa), recommended a struggle on three fronts: better prevention of acts of discrimination, harsher punishment of racial crimes and more effective support for victims in their fight for dignity, equity and justice.