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Freedom From Racial Discrimination is a Right, Not a Privilege.


Freedom From Racial Discrimination is a Right, Not a Privilege.

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In marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the United Nations Network on Migration calls on States to scale up efforts to condemn racial discrimination1 and to pursue, by all appropriate means, the elimination of all forms of discrimination.

While States and societies reap the benefits of migration, the migration experience, too often, is characterized by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, including hate speech and hate crimes. In some places, reactions to COVID-19 have amplified anti-foreigner narratives, racial and ethnic stereotyping, and biases that evoke fear, bigotry, exclusion, and violence2. Such rhetoric and acts are harmful. They also ignore the significant contribution of migrants to societies they live in and the role they play in pandemic response and recovery efforts3

The impact of COVID-19 has prompted widespread expressions of mutual solidarity and support from States, civil society and individuals that transcended migration backgrounds or status. In some instances, youth have been at the forefront of initiatives to stand up against discrimination4, notwithstanding increased perceived racial discrimination among migrant youth and children5. On this day, in line with the 2021 theme of “Youth standing up against racism,” the Network calls on States to increase efforts towards building inclusive and tolerant societies where migrant youth and children are empowered as agents of positive change, regardless of their migration status.

Across its guiding principles and objectives, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) reminds States of their commitment to condemn and counter expressions, acts and manifestations of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, violence, xenophobia, and related intolerance6 against all migrants in conformity with international human rights and labour laws. In line with the obligations outlined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the commitments made in the GCM, the Network calls on States to:

  • Amend any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination;
  • Enact, implement or maintain legislation that penalizes hate crimes and aggravated hate crimes targeting migrants;
  • Empower migrants and communities to denounce any acts of incitement to violence directed towards migrants by informing them of available mechanisms for redress;
  • Guarantee access to justice, including effective remedies for victims of hate crimes and other acts of violence that target migrants;
  • Ensure that all expressions, acts and manifestations of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, violence, xenophobia, and related intolerance are effectively addressed and those who actively participate in the commission of a hate crime targeting migrants are held accountable, in accordance with national legislation;
  • Take immediate and concrete measures, especially in the fields of education, culture, and information, to combat racial and xenophobic prejudice and promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship;
  • Ensure, in conformity with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the availability of high-quality, timely, reliable and disaggregated data, while upholding the right to privacy under international human rights law and protecting personal data; and,
  • Dedicate targeted resources to schools with a high concentration of migrant children for integration activities to promote respect for diversity and inclusion and prevent all forms of discrimination.

Racial discrimination threatens all pillars of society, undermining decades-long efforts towards greater equality within and between communities. It also erodes the Sustainable Development Goals’ central promise to “leave no one behind.”

By denigrating the humanity of some of us, we only diminish the humanity of all of us. 


The United Nations Network on Migration was established to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow-up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While the Network’s mandate is focused on migration, States are called to also implement these recommendations to refugees and asylum-seekers and to protect the human rights of everyone equally, regardless of migration status.



[1] Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination states that: The term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

[2] The analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, in March 2021 examined hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities. It revealed that while such crimes in 2020 decreased overall by 7 percent, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent. Also in NPR’s podcast “The Rise In Anti-Asian Attacks During The COVID-19 Pandemic.”

[3] COVID-19 and Systemic Resilience: Rethinking the Impacts of Migrant Workers and Labour Migration Policies.

[4] In Colombia, youth play a leading role in the development and roll-out of the Xenophobia Barometer, a platform which analyses narratives around Venezuelan migrants and refugees in social media, alerts key stakeholders in real-time to mitigate risks of hate speech, and seeks to positively transform narratives The Co-Director of the Xenophobia Barometer won the Youth Leadership and Innovation Contest in the Category ‘Shaping Narratives on Migration’ of the youth-led session at the GFMD 2021.

[5] WHO’s Apart Together survey reveals that perceived discrimination is particularly felt among young migrants and refugees (20-29 years of age). Since the onset of the pandemic, at least 30% of those surveyed feel that they were treated less well because of their origin.

[6] In the framework of IOM’s Migration Governance Indicators, six of 28 countries declared having a policy or strategy in place to combat hate crimes, violence, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants. See here.




For more information, please contact:

UN Network on Migration (secretariat)
Florence Kim +41797480395

Helen Rosengren

Adam Bowers
+41 (0)22 799 63 48

Safa Msehli
IOM Geneva +41 79 403 5526

Rupert Colville
+41 22 917 9767

Patrick Nicholson 

Ms. Shabia Mantoo

+41 22 739 7138

Christopher Tidey
+1 917 340 3017


Sonya Yee
Tel: (+43) 1 26060-4990



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).