International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

21 March

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 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).


The struggle against racial discrimination is a central element of UNESCO's work to build peace in the minds of men and women, through education for tolerance, the rejection of racist stereotypes that may persist in culture or in the media.

"There is still a danger that racial prejudices will thwart our aspirations for peace. UNESCO condemns those prejudices and fights them tirelessly."
UNESCO Director-General
Audrey Azoulay Director-General of UNESCO
Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March 2022
21 mars 2022

What UNESCO does for the elimination of discrimination

International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities - ICCAR
Social and Human Sciences
Inclusion in education
Fostering Rights, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination
Preventing Violent Extremism
Stop racial discrimination

Read more about UNESCO's work

Cities welcoming refugees and migrants: enhancing effective urban governance in an age of migration
Colour? What colour? Report on the fight against discrimination and racism in football
With the support of the Juventus Football Club


Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
UN website about this day
Past Edition
All international days