NHRCK Chairperson’s Statement on the
‘International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’
"It is time to reflect on the meaning of equality, for the ‘society of dignity and co-existence"
Today(21 March) is marked as the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’ by the United Nations. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea(Chairperson Doohwan Song, hereinafter the NHRCK or the Commission) hereby releases the statement to reflect on the meaning of human dignity and equality, concerned for the world where racial discrimination and xenophobia are spreading.
On 21 March 1960, 69 people were killed in police shooting in South Africa, while holding a peaceful demonstration to fight against Apartheid policy. The tragic incident is recorded as the incident where the police exerted oppressive force on the civilians, based on the idea of racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is a dark stain in the history of mankind and it is the most forbidden discrimination out of all kinds of discrimination forbidden in the international community.
Since the tragedy, there have been movements to abolish laws and policies that incorporated the idea of racism. The UN, in order to eradicate racism, adopted the
｢International Convention on the Elimination on all Forms of Racial Discrimination｣(hereinafter the ‘ICERD’ or the ‘Convention’) in December 1965, and marked 21 March as the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’ at the General Assembly in 1966.
The Republic of Korea has ratified the ICERD in 1978 and have been preparing and submitting the reports to the UN on the legislative, judiciary and administrative measures taken to domestically implement the Convention since 1980. The Korean Government is to submit 21st, 22nd and 23rd integrated report regarding the Convention implementation this year.
However, the seriousness of racism is not deeply felt by the public in Korea and there is no mechanism, such as the ‘Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Law’, legislated to control racist acts. As the COVID19 virus spread, so did racism and hate crimes. We can no longer neglect the issues of racism in our own society.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea, in order to expedite the process of further implementing the ICERD, has provided comments on the draft of the 21st, 22nd and 23rd integrated government report at the plenary session on 7 February 2022. The Commission’s comments included legislating the ‘Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Law’ at the earliest possible date, adding clauses to define ‘racism’ in the Anti-discrimination Law, finding ways to prevent human rights violation in detention centers for foreigners caused by the excessive use of protective gears and prolonged detention period. The NHRCK is going to provide full support in the review of the government report by submitting the Commission’s independent report to the UN.
In the meantime, the NHRCK has published the ｢Cases of Recommendation for the Rights of Migrants｣, the compilation of activities for the promotion of migrants’ rights for the past 10 years.
The NHRCK hopes that the booklet serves as the guideline to help complying with the core principle of ‘respect and equality’ in legislation of laws and policy making. The Commission also hopes that the compilation is widely shared in the society to raise public awareness in racism and contribute to the racism elimination in Korea.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea, as the national human rights institute, will do its utmost to achieve true equality for all in our society.