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UN chief calls racism ‘a dangerous threat’

March 21, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says racial discrimination remains “a dangerous threat” and is urging countries and people around the world to follow the lesson of Nelson Mandela, who triumphed over racist forces and became a defender of the dignity and rights of every person.

Ban’s message was read at a General Assembly meeting Friday to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The U.N. chief said he focused on Mandela because it was the first commemoration since his death, and because the assembly established the international day to support the anti-apartheid movement following the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when police killed 69 black South Africans protesting peacefully.

Ban said the lessons of South Africa’s staunch defense of equality that Mandela began “can be applied anywhere in the world, not only in response to organized, institutional forms of racism but wherever this pernicious problem occurs, including in daily interpersonal relations.”

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the assembly that “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance are on the rise in communities across the world.”

Eliasson said the decision of the General Assembly that there should be an International Decade for People of African Descent starting in 2015 “is testimony to our collective resolve to unite against racial discrimination.”

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