Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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The international human rights movement has helped create a world in which slavery, genocide, apartheid, and segregation are repudiated and, with the adoption of ICERD, racial discrimination is prohibited. Together, these milestones move the dream of universal human rights closer to reality. However, racism remains a barbaric and pervasive truth for too many people and is the under-acknowledged human rights violation of our day. In response, nations must recommit themselves to upholding international legal obligations to prevent racial discrimination and to undertaking meaningful measures to promote equality and dignity. Nonetheless, combating racism requires something more. International human rights institutions and nations alike must acknowledge the deeper problems embedded in racism, including the use of race as a means for categorizing humans, racial ideology that promotes racial supremacy, and racial bias. Naming the challenge as human rights racism aims to illuminate the depth of the problem and to reveal the ways that international human rights law is not racially neutral. Just as societies and communities continue to grapple with understanding and ending racism, the places and spaces that promote human rights must do the same. If it is to be true that all people are equal in dignity and rights, we must not shy away from the hard and often uncomfortable work of addressing racism by its name.