New York – The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this year focuses on using the power of sport to end the blight of racism. It is an opportunity to highlight the sharp contrast between the positive values of sports and the despicable incidents of racism that scar even some professional competitions.
Sport is a universal activity that can reaffirm our fundamental human rights. Combating racism lies at the heart of the United Nations Charter. The international community has an obligation to work for equality and non-discrimination, and we can advance progress by promoting these values through sports.
Each year we mark this Day on the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. We can never forget the 69 unarmed and peaceful demonstrators who were killed by South African police as they protested the country’s unjust apartheid laws.
Apartheid has long since been dismantled and there have been other important advances in the struggle against racism. These include treaties and declarations, the development of an international framework to combat racism, and national protection systems by numerous States.
Despite much progress, racism remains a pervasive menace to individuals and ethnic and religious groups worldwide. It is a threat to stability and a grave violation of human rights.
We must join forces to end racism, and sport can help reach this goal. On this International Day, let us recommit to ending racial discrimination and realizing our vision of justice, equality and freedom from fear for all.