Independent human rights expert sounds alarm over rise in racism, intolerance
A sharp spike in racism, xenophobia and intolerance poses the most serious threat to democratic progress, an independent United Nations rights expert has told the General Assembly.
“The emerging trends of racism, xenophobia and intolerance justify the sounding of an alarm,” said Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. “It constitutes the most serious threat to democratic progress and the building of multicultural societies.”
Startling signs of a retreat in the struggle against racism include a rise in xenophobic immigration policies, racist political platforms and violence, and the serious nature of the defamation of religions, anti-Semitism, “Christianophobia,” and particularly “Islamophobia” after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, said Mr. Diène, adding that a trivialization of racism has taken place.
Painting portraits of the state of racism in countries around the world, the Special Rapporteur briefly outlined findings from field missions undertaken for the Human Rights Council, discussing xenophobic immigration laws in Switzerland, Japan’s “insular and hierarchical society” resistant to multiculturalism, Russia’s rise in racist violence, and, in Brazil, the “economic, social and political weight of racism” despite government efforts to combat those problems.
Stumbling blocks towards ending racism include the proliferation of scientific and political publications carrying racist theories, and a rising tide of racism in political parties, including violence by neo-Nazi and nationalist groups, said the expert, who also highlighted a concern for racism in sport, particularly in football.
“The fight against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia faces major challenges,” said Mr. Diène, whose recommendations to the General Assembly include convening a series of regional conferences to develop specific plans and to assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
Mr. Diène also urgently called on the UN and Member States to muster political will and set out systematic efforts to establish far-reaching measures to crush racial and religious hatred, address xenophobic immigration policies, and halt the growing legitimacy of racism among some intellectuals and political parties.
Special Rapporteurs are unpaid independent advisory experts with a mandate from the Human Rights Council who also make periodic reports to the General Assembly.