António Guterres, United Nations secretary-general, says the global peace body suffers internal issues of racial discrimination.
Guterres disclosed this at the launch of “Awareness and Action”, a campaign initiated by the UN to address racism.
Part of the charter of the UN is to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours”.
Guterres, however, said, the UN must first combat racism within itself.
“Racism challenges every government, every society, and every organisation including our own,” Guterres said.
“It’s true that we have clear rules in place that prohibit and protect staff from all forms of discrimination, including racism.
“But, let’s be honest: sometimes we have been slow to acknowledge the existence of racism inside the United Nations. We must examine our efforts and ask ourselves if we are doing enough to combat racism and racial discrimination inside our Organisation.
“Let me be very clear: racism has no place in the United Nations. Our Organization was founded on the principles of the dignity and worth of the human person, without distinctions of race, colour, ethnic or national origin. We support Member States in developing legal tools and building capacity to address racism in all its forms.
“Addressing racism is not a simple, one-time action. Racism is a complex cultural phenomenon; combating it demands action every day, at every level. Addressing racism requires cultural and structural changes. It calls on us, all of us to examine long-held assumptions, and to question our unconscious biases.”