News Releases

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

For Release Upon Receipt - March 21, 2019

St. Augustine

The following statement is issued by Professor Verene A. Shepherd on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Professor Shepherd is Director, Centre for Reparation Research and Member of the United Nations Committee.

Today, March 21, the international community marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under the theme “Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies”.

The decision to enshrine this day on the global calendar is linked to the fact that, on 21 March 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid "pass law in Sharpeville, South Africa.  These were laws that forced black South Africans to carry an internal passport that restricted their movement in that country. In remembrance of the victims, in 1966 the UN General Assembly proclaimed that day the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

We have all seen the devastating tragedy in New Zealand where over fifty people were killed in shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15. The terrorist attack appears to have been carried out by a white nationalist extremist who posted a racist manifesto online and streamed live video of the attacks on Facebook. Racist extremist movements that lead to massive attacks like those in New Zealand are based on ideologies that seek to promote populist, nationalist agendas. These are spreading in various parts of the world, fuelling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, often targeting migrants and refugees as well as people of African descent.

The Caribbean, while not facing similar terrorist attacks like those on March 15, is a region which continues to grapple with different life outcomes as a result of our slavery past. This history of enslavement has led to, and continues to perpetuate, the discrimination against some people on the basis of race and has spurred new regional conversations on the lives of the black, the brown, and the white in our multi-ethnic space. All Caribbean people are equal, both under the 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but laws and rules do not always translate into actions. 

The Centre for Reparation Research encourages all Caribbean people to take active steps to resist the growing global trend towards extreme supremacist ideologies and nationalist populism that has led to mass terror attacks in other countries and to continue to work for the elimination of racial discrimination in Jamaica and across the world.


About the Centre for Reparation Research

The focus of the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is threefold: to promote research on the legacies of colonialism, native genocide, enslavement and indentureship in the Caribbean, and how to bring justice and positive transformation to these legacies; to promote education at The UWI and across Caribbean school systems on the legacies of colonialism, enslavement and native genocide and the need for justice and repair; and to promote advocacy for reparatory justice by building a capacity for consultancy to CARICOM, Caribbean states, the UN and other relevant institutions, public awareness raising, and supporting activism for reparatory and decolonial justice from grassroots to governments. For more information on the CRR visit

About The UWI

For the past 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Asia, and Africa such as the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018, and was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)