In a message to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which was celebrated yesterday, Mr Ban said next year's formal review of actions taken since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action offered an opportunity to make important progress.
''Racial discrimination is a concern to all people and countries,'' he said.
''This review process is an opportunity to engage in an inclusive and transparent manner on an issue that demands our urgent and close attention.'' ''I call on all countries and civil society to make constructive use of the time between now and the formal review process to work out their differences so that we can seize this opening to boost our collective efforts to stamp out racism. This issue is too important; we cannot fail,'' the UN chief added.
The Secretary-General noted that the General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day to honour the memory of the scores of peaceful protesters who were massacred on this day in 1960 in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against the racist apartheid-era 'pass laws.' ''There has been significant progress since then, not least through the dismantling of the apartheid system. But racism continues to plague too many individuals, communities and societies the world over,'' he said.