Teixeira calls for elimination of racism at UN ECOSOC Special Meeting
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira decried the fact that too often ethnic insecurities, real or perceived, and race are used opportunistically in the political arena to deliberately manipulate issues in a manner that promotes and fans sentiments of fear, tensions and racial feelings.
This was her message to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) which was held under the theme “Reimagining Equality: Eliminating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination for all in the Decade of Action for the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)”.
“Despite some advances made over decades of struggles, racism, racial discrimination, ethic insecurities continue to be sources of conflicts and inequalities among people of all regions around the world. These inequalities are evident in the levels of disproportional poverty rates among different ethnic groups, unequal access to power, justice, education, health, social services, jobs and promotions.
“In Guyana, we speak proudly of being a nation of many peoples and celebrate our diversity. In fact, our people seamlessly participate in each other’s religious and cultural festivals and traditions. In many ways, we have the potential to be a wonderful example in the world.
“…unfortunately, too often ethnic insecurities, real or perceived, and race are used opportunistically and expediently in the political arena…social media, whilst a powerful tool to inform the people, has been added to artisanal of those who want to exploit ethnic insecurities and racial discrimination,” Teixeira noted.
She stressed that it is only with collective will and commitment that the scourge of racism can be eradicated so that our world could move closer to the achievements of SDGs. “The Government of Guyana will continue to do its part,” the Minister assured.
The Minister assured the meeting that “…efforts will continue to be made nationally to prohibit all forms of racism, racial discrimination and to address ethnic insecurities by fighting poverty and marginalisation and ensuring that there is inclusive development with equal access and sharing in Guyana’s wealth.”
The meeting was informed of President Dr Irfaan Ali’s “One Guyana Commission”, which was announced during his address to Parliament on February 12, 2021.
“The work of the Commission would be countrywide, and it would listen to the free expressions of all voices, concerning ways in which every Guyanese can honour their ancestral heritage while giving the highest regard to our uniquely blended Guyanese civilisation,” the President had stated.
Teixeira said, “In addition, to strengthening Guyana’s Ethnic Relations Commission, one of four constitutional rights bodies, the establishment of the One Guyana Commission will commence an innovative measure towards building trust and confidence and removing the divisions caused by race and politics.
She pointed out that a day later the President initiated a “Corridor of Unity” between villages comprised of different ethnic groups along one part of the country, which has historically suffered over the decades with ethnic tensions, insecurities and violence.
She concluded that the UN ECOSOC Special Meeting was a timely reminder that the SDGs and the overarching objectives of eradicating poverty, protecting our planet and building a peaceful world cannot be achieved without confronting all forms of inequality.
“This year, 2021, is a very significant year as we begin the decade of action for accelerating efforts towards achieving the sustainable goals in the midst of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on every nation of the world,” the Minister stressed.
The ECOSOC Special Meeting was intended to address the links between structural racism, inequalities and the SDGs. The Council focused on policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. It is also expected to contribute to the thematic reviews by the UN’s High-level Political Forum of SDG10 on reducing inequalities and SDG16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.