The United Nations affirms the fundamental equality of all persons and, consequently, the phenomenon of racial discrimination has been one of its major areas of attention. The UN Charter is based on the principles of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
Instruments to address racial discrimination
The United Nations has developed several instruments to address racial discrimination and has made important advances in the fight against racism.
In 1963, the General Assembly adopted resolution 1904 (XVIII) United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It states that discrimination between human beings on the ground of race, colour or ethnic origin is an offence to human dignity and shall be condemned as a denial of the principles of the Charter and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations and capable of disturbing peace and security among people.
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted in 1965 and entered into force three years later. The State Parties to the Convention undertake to condemn all forms of racial discrimination and to review government, national and local policies and to amend or repeal laws and regulations which create or perpetuate racial discrimination. In accordance with the provisions of the Convention, a committee of experts - the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - was established to monitor its implementation.
Proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1966, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March.
Special rapporteur on racism
In 1993, the UN Commission on Human Rights created the mandate of the Special rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to investigate racial discrimination worldwide. The special rapporteur reports to the Human Rights Council.
World conference against racism
By a decision taken by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, the year 2001 was proclaimed the International Year of mobilization against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The decision was linked to the decision to organize a world conference.
As a landmark in the struggle to eradicate all forms of racism the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Racial Intolerance was held in Durban the same year. In its resolution (A/RES/53/132) the General Assembly stated that the intention was a continued political commitment in the fight against racism and racial discrimination.
More on UN and racial discrimination
- International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
- The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination carry the following symbols:
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Country report, 63rd session. Concluding observations. Document no. 12
- Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD): Background information and news, full text reports and documents, conventions and protocols, lists of signatures and ratifications and reporting guidelines and a link to Treaty Body Database:
- Information about the work of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as an overview of the mandate, reports and documents in fulltext. The Special rapporteur submits every year:
- The OHCHR anti-discrimination database compiles materials on measures, practices and legal precedents for use in countering racial discrimination and xenophobia.
- World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolernace: Background information, program and full text documentation.
- UN Pulse #racial discrimination. Dag Hammarskjöld library's blog on the topic with links to relevant documents and other sources.
Human Rights, conventions and declaration
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Swedish | in English
- Resolution 217 A (III) / (A/RES/217) adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 during its 183rd plenary meeting.
- The Core International Human Rights Instruments and their monitoring bodies.
- Universal Human Rights Index - UHRI. Human rights recommendations from all parts of the UN system: the UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies, the Human Rights Council mechanisms Universal Periodic Review and Special Procedures. Each document links to other related information in the database.
- Charter-based Body Database. Documents and reports of the Human Rights Council, its predecessor and their subsidiaries and parent organs. Maintained by OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights).
- Treaty Body Database. Full text documents from the UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies.
- Yearbook on Human Rights 1946-1988
- OHCHR website for background information, documents and reports.
- Research guides by Dag Hammarskjöld Library:
Key UN documents
UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases
- United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
- UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
- ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
- Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
- Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
- a list of all documents
- a comprehensive subject index
- an index to speeches
- a voting chart of resolutions
- United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.