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ECOSOC Special Meeting

Statement by State Secretary Jens Frølich Holte, at the ECOSOC Special Meeting ‘Reimagining Equality: Eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all in the decade of action for the SDGs’ , 18 February 2021.

Thank you for organising the ECOSOC Special Meeting on ‘Reimagining Equality: Eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all in the decade of action for the SDGs.’

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA). Racist attitudes and statements are still far too prevalent. All over the world, people are discriminated against, harassed, and assaulted because of the colour of their skin, their ethnicity, or their religion.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in intolerance, discrimination, and marginalisation. There has been a rise in misinformation and mistrust directed towards minority groups. Some groups have even been scapegoated for spreading the coronavirus.

Inclusion is the key to achieving the SDGs and ensuring that we fulfil our obligation to leave no one behind.

Discrimination and intolerance contribute to dividing the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. They generate hate speech and create mistrust. To combat this, we must expand dialogue, increase knowledge, and promote democratic values and human rights. Political and religious leaders must lead the way and all parts of civil society must be involved.

The fight against discrimination and exclusion begins at home. The Norwegian Government has drawn up several action plans to prevent intolerance and discrimination. Action plans to combat racism, antisemitism, and discrimination and hatred towards Muslims are currently being implemented.

The 20th anniversary of the DDPA is a good opportunity to boost our efforts to create peaceful and inclusive societies that leave no one behind. The SDGs provide us with a clearly charted course.