Racism continues to proliferate in our societies despite the remarkable progress in science towards dispelling racial myths and the development of unequivocal legal frameworks. The concept of race has been misused and instrumentalised and has legitimised acts and behaviours that lead to biases, inequalities and injustice. The COVID-19 has further exposed the impact of racism and discrimination, disproportionally affecting the most vulnerable groups of our society.
The Series of Regional Expert Consultations against Racism and Discriminations aimed to deconstruct racism and unpack the societal challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic related to racism and discrimination. It sought to facilitate the necessary reflection on the direction and actions that UNESCO and the international community should take amid a renewed emergence of racist agendas. The series was delivered in the form of international webinars, open to the public, and explicitly targeted national and local decision-makers, academia, NGOs, civil society, media, and private sector.
The Series is part of the anti-racism roadmap that UNESCO is currently developing, which includes a scanning project to strengthen institutional and legal frameworks against racism and discriminations, affirmative actions in public and private sectors and anti-biases trainings that fight stereotypes and promote positive role models.
UNESCO organized the first edition of the “Series of Regional Expert Consultations on Racism and Discriminations” on 18 September 2020, bringing together almost 200 participants from all around the world.
This first edition brought together high-level speakers to discuss the need for efficient delivery, enhancement, and evaluation of both prospective and existing UNESCO initiatives to combat racism and discriminations in the African region.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vulnerabilities of disadvantaged populations, including minority communities, have been further exacerbated.
Martin Luther King III, a global human rights activist, and a distinguished panel of experts gathered for the second edition of the UNESCO Regional Expert Consultation Series held on 29 September 2020, focusing on the North American region. Together, they deconstructed the impact of racism and discussed ways forward.
These consultations highlight UNESCO's aspiration to advance the knowledge and understanding of the issue of racism and discrimination in order to take concerted, careful and collective action through participatory and holistic mechanisms.
The third edition of the UNESCO Regional Expert Consultation Series held on 6 October 2020 gathered a distinguished panel of experts for a discussion on racism and discriminations in the European region.
They exchanged valuable insights and perspectives on its roots and effects in light of the cases of discrimination and violence in the region, as well as in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the already adverse socio-economic conditions of the most vulnerable groups in society.
The fourth edition of the UNESCO Regional Expert Consultation Series held on 9 October 2020 focused on addressing the issue of racism and discriminations in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
The experts provided valuable recommendations on the strengthening of the legal and policy frameworks and on the enhancement of their implementation.
In the context of the institutional cooperation exemplified during the crisis, the series is a good example of how institutions can work together and raise the visibility of each other.
The fifth edition of the UNESCO Regional Expert Consultation Series against Racism and Discriminations was held on 20 October 2020. An exchange of essential ideas, various perspectives and valuable insights were central to the discussion which highlighted the scope and magnitude of COVID-19’s adverse impact on socio-economic conditions and violence against vulnerable groups within the Asia-Pacific region, home to 60% of the world’s population.
The sixth and last edition of the UNESCO series of Regional Expert Consultations on Racism and Discriminations held on 21 October 2020, gathered a distinguished panel of experts from the Arab region. The discussion resulted in invaluable insights on existing trends in racism and discriminations against minority groups in Middle Eastern and North African countries, on the exacerbation of these phenomena during the COVID-19 pandemic, and on recommendations to address them.
The series of webinars is organised by UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences Programme. Other activities and programmes of the section addressing racism, discrimination, and exclusion include International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities, the UNESCO series of webinars addressing racism, discrimination, and exclusion and Master Class Series against Racism and Discriminations, among others.
Inclusion in the time of COVID-19
The UNESCO series of webinars addressing racism, discrimination, and exclusion aims to exchange experiences and expertise on the measures to address the COVID-19 crisis at global and local levels. These webinars focus on the social dimensions of “leaving no one behind” and on actions against the growing incidents of racism and discrimination.
International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities − ICCAR
The International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, was launched by UNESCO in March 2004 following the call made for a common front in the global fight against racial discrimination during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that took place in Durban, South Africa in 2001. Since its inception, and its revitalization in 2014, ICCAR has grown to become an active global front against racism and discriminations with over 500 members across the globe.
Master Class Series against Racism and Discriminations
Launched by UNESCO in November 2019 as a global “training for trainers” initiative, the Master Class Series against Racism and Discriminations seeks to empower students to become youth champions in their own schools and communities and spread awareness on how to deconstruct the mechanisms underlying racism and discriminations.