An official website of the European Union. See all European Institutions
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
As we mark the 50th anniversary of entry into force of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and we commemorate in two days the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination we are reminded too frequently of the need to continue to do more in the fight against xenophobia, racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance. The European Union expresses its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the two terrorist attacks that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday. Attacks on places of worship are attacks on all of us who value diversity and freedom of religion and expression. Such acts strengthen our resolve to tackle, together with the whole international community, the global challenges of terrorism, extremism and hatred.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights, ICERD contributes to make the ideal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality. Racial discrimination, incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence directed at persons due to their belonging to a certain ethnic, race, colour or descent group, and acts of violence motivated by racism and xenophobia strike at the very heart of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms and should therefore be punishable by law.
The 21st of March was chosen to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination because in 1960, 69 people were killed by the Apartheid regime in Sharpeville. They were killed for fighting for equal rights. Almost 60 years later racial discrimination is still pervasive, being present in all walks of life, in the work place, in schools and hospitals, in the judicial and criminal systems.
We need to recommit to the implementation of the ICERD and all other legal obligations and political commitments to fight against racism. We should use the 4th Phase of the World Program for Human Rights Education, focusing on youth, with a special emphasis on education and training in equality, human rights and non-discrimination, inclusion and respect for diversity with the aim of building inclusive and peaceful societies, to also contribute to this endeavour.
The ICERD currently has 179 State-parties, we should strive for its universal ratification and full implementation.
This Council has multiple mechanisms dedicated to the fight against racism, the European Union has been engaging constructively with all of them. We have negotiated together and reached a consensus on the important Program of Activities for the Decade of People of African Descent. We regret that the agreements reached then have been questioned recently and while we pledge our engagement with this agenda and we commit to continue to negotiate in good faith, we remind all that trust is a fundamental value in negotiations. We all need to work together to realize the aspirations of the UDHR: free and equals.
 North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.