UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2013

UN International Migrants Day

During 2013, Staff Notices were issued in Civil Service Departments to mark
  • UN International Day against Racism, 21st March
  • UN International Migrants Day, 18th December.

The first notice was sent to all staff in the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Social Protection and also across the network of Personnel Officers in the Civil Service.

Office Notice 27/013
UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On the 21st March 1960, police opened fire on peaceful demonstrators protesting against racially discriminating laws in Sharpeville, South Africa. 69 people died and many more were injured. Every year, on the 21st of March, the world comes together to commemorate that massacre and to focus attention on the fight against racial discrimination wherever and whenever it occurs.

Remembering this day serves as a reminder of the dangers of racism and of the devastation and damage that racial discrimination has inflicted and continues to inflict around the world. It also encourages people to remember their obligation to combat racial discrimination.

Racism is a specific form of discrimination and exclusion faced by cultural and ethnic minorities. It is based on the false belief that some ‘races’ are inherently superior to others because of their cultural or ethnic background, different skin colour and nationality. Racism denies people their basic human rights, dignity and respect. Racism is a complex issue and can be manifested in a number of ways ranging from acts of snubbing and exclusion through to discrimination, stereotyping, institutional or systemic racism, to acts of threatening behaviour and violence.

Racism and intolerance are problems prevalent in all societies. Each and every one of us plays a role in either contributing to or breaking down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.

The Department employs staff from many different countries of origin and acknowledges that multiculturalism enriches both the workplace and society in general. We are committed to ensuring that our organisation is one where people from minority groups are comfortable to work in, where racism is effectively addressed and where the needs of our diverse customer base are met in a respectful and culturally sensitive manner.

I would ask all staff to take this opportunity to consider what they can do to break down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.

Further information is available at the following website;


2nd Notice. To mark International Migrant's Day on 18th December this notice was circulated to staff in the Department of Justice and Equality. A similar notice was circulated to staff in the Department of Social Protection. Attached at the end of the notice you will find a document advising staff on dealing sensitively with customers from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Office Notice 91/2013
UN International Migrants Day

"To: All Staff

On 4th December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the World, proclaimed 18th December as International Migrants Day.

The UN International Migrants day is annually held on 18th December to recognise the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide.

While UN Member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations are invited to observe International Migrants Day through, for example, the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, it is also an appropriate time for us to reflect on how we can, in our own individual way, ensure migrants are not subject to racial or cultural discrimination.

Ireland has become a much more culturally and ethnically diverse society over the last number of years, and, as a nation, we have welcomed the richness that this diversity brings with it. We must continue to work to ensure that this situation is improved upon and that migrants are afforded the protections of the State and are eligible to avail of the opportunities for personal and economic development that may arise.

The UN General Assembly's High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development held on 14/15 September 2006 reaffirmed a number of key messages. It underscored the belief that international migration was a growing phenomenon and that it could make a positive contribution to development in countries of origin and countries of destination provided it was supported by the right policies.

The Assembly emphasised that respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants was essential to reap the benefits of international migration. It also recognised the importance of strengthening international cooperation on international migration bilaterally, regionally and globally.

In his message for International Migrants Day on 18th December 2012, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon noted that:
      "As budgets tighten, we are seeing austerity measures that discriminate against migrant workers, xenophobic rhetoric that encourages violence against irregular migrants, and proposed immigration laws that allow the police to profile migrants with impunity. During economic downturns, it is worth remembering that whole sectors of the economy depend on migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs help to create jobs."
It is through positive actions and attitudes on the front lines of service delivery and policy development that officials can make a difference to the lives of those who have come to Ireland to work and to those who have found it necessary to seek our protection and assistance. Please remember this as you go about your daily tasks.

Dealing with customers from culturally diverse backgrounds.pdf "

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