UNESCO celebrates International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationIn honour of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, several hundred young people will gather at UNESCO Headquarters on Saturday, March 20, to reflect on the link between racial prejudice and the heritage of slavery. The theme of racism will also bring together more than a dozen well-known athletes and artists who will announce their plan to create a club against racial discrimination.
In five different workshops, the participants, ages 16 to 22, will debate the theme of “Youth united against racism”, divided into five workshops.
The first, “Best Practices and New Ideas to Fight Against Racism in the City” will bring together young people involved in municipal activities in several European cities*. Their goal will be to formulate proposals for an International Coalition of Cities against Racism, a new UNESCO initiative aimed at establishing a network of cities interested in sharing their experiences so as to improve their policies for fighting against racism, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance.
Four other workshops, which will bring together young people from different parts of France, will address the following themes: The International Year for the Commemoration of the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition (2004); “Thinking about slavery and its links with racism”; “Route des Blues: Music as a cultural impact of slavery”; “Prisoners of prejudice”; and “Art against discrimination”.
“The slave trade differed from other kinds of slavery in that it was principally based on the colour of the victims’ skins and drew upon a religious, philosophical and political outlook in a bid to achieve legitimacy,” says UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, in the message issued for the Day. “This outlook subsequently contributed to the construction of monstrous theories on the inequality of races and civilizations which legitimized racism and justified the most terrifying injustices and forms of domination that humanity has ever experienced.”
Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, will welcome young participants before the workshops (1.30 p.m., Room I). They will listen to Koïchiro Matsuura’s welcoming speech and message, recorded for the occasion, before watching a documentary on the International Year for the Commemoration of the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition.
Following the debates, they will meet in a plenary session (5.30 to 7 p.m., Room I) to present the results of the different workshops, and to hear the testimonies of artists and athletes concerning racism.
Personalities who will attend include rugby player Abdelatif Benazzi, former goalie Bernard Lama, world in-line skating champion Taïg Khris, judoka Jamel Bourras, French actor Samuel Le Bihan, Iranian philosopher Afarine Eshtiagh, and rapper Disses La Peste. They will be launching a project to create a club of artists and athletes against racial discrimination, which will support UNESCO’s action in this area.
The day will conclude with the “Battle Hip-Hop” show and a concert by “Ragga Rai” singer Momo Roots and the group Rost, leading figures of Parisian hip-hop (7.30 p.m., Room I) and other surprise guests, organized in partnership with the Festival Etudiant contre le racisme.
The events of the days are organized in partnership with the French National Commission for UNESCO with the participation of the French Federation of UNESCO Clubs and other organizations.
*Barcelona (Spain), Bucharest (Romania), Huy (Belgium), Koszalin (Poland), Nuremberg (Germany), Padua (Italy), Paris (France).
Journalists wishing to cover the event are kindly requested to register with the Press Service, tel. +33(0) 1 45 68 17 48
For more information: