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Statement to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Intervention by the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations, Chairmanship of the regional group of Latin America and Caribbean States Grulac.

March 20

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Regional Group of Latin America and Caribbean States (GRULAC).

First of all, let me express our deep appreciation to the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, for convening this commemorative plenary meeting to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

I would like to thank Ms. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ms. Gay McDougall, member of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the United Nations High-Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein for their participation in today’s meeting.

Mr. President,

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies, and in  this regard, any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races. Bigotry, discrimination and xenophobia constitute acts against international human rights norms and standards.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination gives all of us the legal basis to “adopt all necessary measures for speedily eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations, and to prevent and combat racist doctrines and practices in order to promote understanding between races and to build an international community free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination”. Nevertheless, the outstanding importance of this legal instrument should rely on our moral duty as States to go beyond its provisions and adopt a proactive approach towards the elimination of all forms of discrimination.

Moreover, the 2030 Agenda is the most recent authoritative reiteration of the call to ensure equality of opportunity and end discrimination. We underscore that development can not be sustainable when is not enjoyed by all, and when social and economic systems create societies stratified not by efforts, contributions, merits or achievements but by nationality, race or gender.

Mr. President,

Many efforts and initiatives have been undertaken by States to prohibit racial discrimination and segregation, xenophobia and related intolerance and to bring about the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights by all, by all without distinction of any kind. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, millions of human beings continue to be victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including their contemporary forms and manifestations, some of which in extremely violent forms.

There are a huge number of legal instruments where the principles of freedom, equality and non discrimination, are embodied. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to safely ensure moving from the enunciation of the legal texts to the full exercise of those rights, and that obligation relies on each and every one of us, the Member States.

Mr. President,

The GRULAC Member States condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing and resurgent scourges of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in many regions of the world and we commit to take concrete actions to prevent and condemn those actions.

Many of the countries of our region are made up by multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual populations, and are composed by a mosaic of men and women that migrated from all ethnic origins in the planet. We acknowledge that the diversity amongst our peoples is our strength, so we are deeply concerned by the proliferation of political campaigns based on discrimination and racism. 

Our societies stand to benefit from the richness of the diversity of our peoples. We recognize that encouraging the full participation and contribution of all our peoples is of vital importance and that sustainable development cannot be achieved except where it is achieved for all people, regardless of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

We share a comprehensive vision of the international migration based on human rights, that rejects the criminalization of irregular migration, as well as all forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and recognizes the contributions of migrants in the countries of origin and destination.

It is of the utmost importance that migration policies respect fundamental human rights while taking into account the key consideration of national security. This is a delicate and necessary balancing act, particularly as migrant families are frequently subjected to measures that threaten their basic human rights, unity and integrity.

For these reasons, the region remains deeply committed to initiatives and key processes such as the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, in which we think the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, as well as their contribution to sustainable development, should be at the center of the discussions.

Mr. President,

GRULAC Member States will continue to support and lead our collective actions here at the United Nations to fulfill what was pledged in the Charter of the United Nations “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom and for these ends, to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors”.

Thank you.

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