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Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights without distinction to their origin, ethnicity or religion.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the European Union reaffirms its strong commitment to the values of unity and coexistence, and to the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and exclusion in all their forms, inside and beyond our borders.

Demonstrations of discrimination, hatred and intolerance are still triggering conflicts in many countries around the world, forcing people to flee and generating intolerable human suffering.  And are on the rise also in our European Union.

A society where human rights are not guaranteed for all is more fragile, less resilient and is more prone to conflicts.

The European Union is promoting the universal ratification and full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – the universal foundation for the work to prevent and eradicate racism and discrimination.

Within the EU, the High Level Group on combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Intolerance compiled guiding principles on hate crime training for law enforcement and criminal justice authorities and on access to justice, protection and support for victims of hate crime. It contributed to further developing guidance on improving the recording of hate crime by law enforcement authorities, currently being tested in several Member States. But this is first and foremost a cultural fight.

Supporting partner countries and civil society in preventing and countering racism and intolerance is a guiding principle also of the EU’s external action. Through EU funding, support is being provided to civil society around the world to counter racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. For instance, projects have been put in place in order to improve the Criminal Justice system in Rwanda through human rights education and legal aid provision. In Sri Lanka, support is being provided aimed at strengthening fundamental rights and freedoms in the Northern and Eastern Provinces by improving the quality and the access to legal services in these regions.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Union continues more than ever its dedicated work towards the universalisation of the Declaration’s fundamental values, working closely with all our partner countries, regional and international organisations, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), civil society and human rights defenders, towards the elimination of racial discrimination. The EU will keep working until discrimination, hatred and violence will have no more place anywhere.