Ethnic and Racial Relations - UNESCO's role to overcome racial discrimination in Brazil

© UNESCO

Brazilian society is composed of different ethnic and racial groups that characterize, in cultural terms, as one of the richest in the world. However, its history is marked by inequality and discrimination, specifically against Blacks and Indigenous Peoples, impeding their full economic, political and social development.

Since its foundation, UNESCO declares that elucidates the contribution of several peoples for building civilization by promoting understanding about the origin of conflicts, of prejudice, of discrimination and of racial segregation, which has plagued the world. Through this conception, UNESCO Office in Brazil has contributed with various governmental bodies, civil society and academia to formulate and to develop actions that can ensure respect for differences and promote the struggle against all forms of discrimination, including racial-ethnic discrimination.  

Effective contributions actually happen through acting on various fronts and themes in which UNESCO has accumulated solid experience. The cross-cutting approach and the intersectoral actions have been prioritized as a rich and effective method for recognition of the ethnic-racial and cultural diversity, which the Brazilian society is constituted by; well as for the consolidation of the country renown as an equal rights promoter.

Important frameworks on ethnic and racial relations:

Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Project: which promotes the importance of the African-Brazilian history intersection.

General History of Africa in Portuguese: which intends to disseminate a new look on the African continent among Brazilians in order to show to society that African history is not confined to the slave trade and poverty.

Teaching Respect for All Project: it is a partnership between UNESCO and the governments of Brazil and the United States of America. Its objective is to outline a curricular framework to struggle against racism and to promote tolerance so it can be used by other countries and adapted to their local context and needs.

Slave Route Programme: which is an instrument to raise awareness within the Brazilian society as to the importance of this historical heritage, and facilitate its integration into the development of the country’s identity.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

© UNESCO/Dom João

The UN General Assembly resolution 2142 (XXI), adopted on 26 October 1966, proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to be commemorated annually. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, which signifies the struggle to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Over the years, UNESCO has celebrated the International Day by organizing events and campaigns in Headquarters and its field offices, as well as in cooperation with the member cities of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR (formerly the International Coalition of Cities against Racism).

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