U.N. Chief Warns of Racism Rising Worldwide

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the rise in intolerance means "the stakes are high" for keeping international peace and security intact.

Posted: 09/23/2011 02:11 PM EDT
Filed Under United Nations, racism

Ban Ki-Moon talks about the rise of racism

Racism, intolerance and discrimination are on the rise worldwide, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday.

Speaking on the 10-year anniversary of a controversial U.N. conference held to combat racism, the U.N. chief urged all countries to "stand firmly" against religious discrimination and to put an end to discrimination based on race, color, language, political opinion, gender or sexual orientation. Ban also said that "the stakes are high" given that intolerance and ignorance threaten to jeopardize international peace and security, writes the Associated Press.

The secretary-general did acknowledge that progress has been made in recent years, saying that people "are better attuned to see the insidious forms of discrimination,” and citing the enactment of laws to protect against genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and slavery. However, despite the progress, he made clear that discrimination and intolerance are ongoing issues.

"Yet we must acknowledge that intolerance has increased in many parts of the world over the past decade," Ban told the General Assembly. "The resurgence and persistence of such inhumane attitudes and detrimental practices indicate that we have not done enough to stem the tide."

He noted that it is the responsibility of governments to ensure that unemployment and poor living standards aren't used as fuel for attacks on immigrants and other targeted groups.

The speech was in commemoration of a 2001 conference held in Durban, South Africa to combat racism, intolerance and discrimination. That meeting broke down after some nations felt that it had been used as a platform to bash Israel, Zionism and Jews. As a result, the United States, Israel and a dozen other countries boycotted Thursday's commemoration.

(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)