IACHR and OSRESCER: Education with an Intercultural Perspective is Necessary to Eradicate Racial Discrimination

March 21, 2023

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Washington, D.C. — On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21) and ahead of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (March 25), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Economic Rights (OSRESCER) called on States to adopt effective measures to guarantee education models with an intercultural approach.

Education plays a relevant role in promoting the right to equality and non-discrimination. It is an intrinsic right that is indispensable for the realization of other human rights. In the area of personal autonomy, education is the primary tool that adults, children, and adolescents can use to bridge the poverty gap and gain access to decision-making spaces. Education is a tool for transformation that enables cultural change toward a society that is free of discrimination.

Anti-racist education and culture are essential to combating the prejudices that justify racial discrimination. In this regard, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) recommends that States review the terminology of texts that contain stereotyped information on people of African descent and replace them with content on dignity and equality. It is thus essential for States to promote pedagogical strategies that prohibit the direct or indirect use of stigmatization based on individuals' ethnic or racial origin being one of African or indigenous descent, both in the content of curricula and other educational resources.

In this regard, the principle of self-determination needs to be respected within education systems, and the worldview, traditions, and ancestral customs of people of African descent and indigenous peoples need to be taken into account, with a view to including their own languages and knowledge in the programs of public and private educational institutions. Thus, States must recognize the right of indigenous peoples and tribal people of African descent to establish and regulate their educational institutions and systems, in accordance with their own methods of teaching and learning.

Finally, the IACHR and the OSRESCER called for the promotion of the historical memory of people of African descent and indigenous peoples through the implementation of specialized professorships that will provide an account of the history of the African diaspora, as well as the contributions that indigenous people and people of African descent have made to States in the region, acknowledging their emancipation processes in the Americas and the systematic discrimination and exclusion to which they have been exposed.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 042/23

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