PH encourages UN member states to use 2001 Durban Declaration to combat scourge of racism, discrimination

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has called on United Nations (UN) member states to eradicate all forms of discrimination and intolerance faced by Asians, including Filipinos, through the use of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (DFA)

DDPA was adopted in a world conference in September 2001 as a concrete actionable roadmap against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.

Speaking at the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the DDPA last week, Locsin said that the issues the Declaration sought to address still exist today and have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locsin was apparently referring to the spate of hate crimes that soared in numbers particularly in the United States since the start of the pandemic where many Asians or people with Asian descent have become the target of either physical attacks of verbal slurs.

“The Declaration’s call upon Member States to eradicate all forms of intolerance faced by Asians and people of Asian descent is still relevant 20 years hence,” he said, noting that the DPPA condemned these acts toward migrants, along with the degrading stereotypes applied to them.

Through awareness raising and education, justice and accountability, policy interventions, and other tools outlined in the Declaration, Locsin reminded the member states that “we are all called to treat our fellow human beings with the respect and dignity we feel is owed to ourselves as such.”

“This meeting’s Political Declaration gives renewed impetus to do just that, and hold on to our claim of humanity,” the DFA secretary said.

In his opening remarks, UN Secretary General António Guterres also called on Member States to take concrete actions, including through policy measures, legislation and more granular data collection, in support of all the efforts at the national and global level.

Even Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly reminded the body that the DDPA was adopted to address racial discrimination and intolerance.

“We as a global community have not done enough to tackle the pervasiveness of racism, racial intolerance, and xenophobia. Tackling racism in all its forms is a moral responsibility for justice,” he said.

The DDPA was adopted during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa in September 2001.

The document embodies the commitments of the international community to address the legacy of the past as well as contemporary forms and manifestations of racism and racial discrimination, including the acknowledgement that slavery and slave trade are a crime against humanity.