Adopted and proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization at its twentieth session, on 27 November 1978
The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
meeting at Paris at its twentieth session, from 24 October to 28 November 1978,
Whereas it is stated in the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO, adopted on 16 November 1945,
that "the great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the denial of the
democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men, and by the propagation, in
their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races", and
whereas, according to Article 1 of the said Constitution, the purpose of UNESCO "is to contribute to
peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and
culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and
fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex,
language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations",
Recognizing that, more than three decades after the founding of UNESCO, these principles are just as
significant as they were when they were embodied in its Constitution,
Mindful of the process of decolonization and other historical changes which have led most of the
peoples formerly under foreign rule to recover their sovereignty, making the international community a
universal and diversified whole and creating new opportunities of eradicating the scourge of racism and
of putting an end to its odious manifestations in all aspects of social and political life, both nationally
Convinced that the essential unity of the human race and consequently the fundamental equality of all
human beings and all peoples, recognized in the loftiest expressions of philosophy, morality and
religion, reflect an ideal towards which ethics and science are converging today,
Convinced that all peoples and all human groups, whatever their composition or ethnic origin,
contribute according to their own genius to the progress of the civilizations and cultures which, in their
plurality and as a result of their interpenetration, constitute the common heritage of mankind,
Confirming its attachment to the principles proclaimed in the United Nations Charter and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and its determination to promote the implementation of the International
Covenants on Human Rights as well as the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International
Determined also to promote the implementation of the United Nations Declaration and the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
Noting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International
Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the Convention on the
Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity,
Recalling also the international instruments already adopted by UNESCO, including in particular the
Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, the Recommendation concerning
the Status of Teachers, the Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, the
Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and
Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Recommendations on the Status
of Scientific Researchers, and the Recommendation on participation by the people at large in cultural
life and their contribution to it,
Bearing in mind the four statements on the race question adopted by experts convened by UNESCO,
Reaffirming its desire to play a vigorous and constructive part in the implementation of the programme
of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, as defined by the General
Assembly of the United Nations at its twenty-eighth session,
Noting with the gravest concern that racism, racial discrimination, colonialism and apartheid continue
to afflict the world in ever-changing forms, as a result both of the continuation of legislative provisions
and government and administrative practices contrary to the principles of human rights and also of the
continued existence of political and social structures, and of relationships and attitudes, characterized
by injustice and contempt for human beings and leading to the exclusion, humiliation and exploitation,
or to the forced assimilation, of the members of disadvantaged groups,
Expressing its indignation at these offences against human dignity, deploring the obstacles they place
in the way of mutual understanding between peoples and alarmed at the danger of their seriously
disturbing international peace and security,
Adopts and solemnly proclaims this Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice:
1. All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from a common stock. They are
born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity.
2. All individuals and groups have the right to be different, to consider themselves as different and to
be regarded as such. However, the diversity of life styles and the right to be different may not, in any
circumstances, serve as a pretext for racial prejudice; they may not justify either in law or in fact any
discriminatory practice whatsoever, nor provide a ground for the policy of apartheid , which is the
extreme form of racism.
3. Identity of origin in no way affects the fact that human beings can and may live differently, nor does
it preclude the existence of differences based on cultural, environmental and historical diversity nor the
right to maintain cultural identity.
4. All peoples of the world possess equal faculties for attaining the highest level in intellectual,
technical, social, economic, cultural and political development.
5. The differences between the achievements of the different peoples are entirely attributable to
geographical, historical, political, economic, social and cultural factors. Such differences can in no case
serve as a pretext for any rank-ordered classification of nations or peoples.
1. Any theory which involves the claim that racial or ethnic groups are inherently superior or inferior,
thus implying that some would be entitled to dominate or eliminate others, presumed to be inferior, or
which bases value judgements on racial differentiation, has no scientific foundation and is contrary to
the moral and ethical principles of humanity.
2. Racism includes racist ideologies, prejudiced attitudes, discriminatory behaviour, structural
arrangements and institutionalized practices resulting in racial inequality as well as the fallacious
notion that discriminatory relations between groups are morally and scientifically justifiable; it is
reflected in discriminatory provisions in legislation or regulations and discriminatory practices as well
as in anti-social beliefs and acts; it hinders the development of its victims, perverts those who practise
it, divides nations internally, impedes international co-operation and gives rise to political tensions
between peoples; it is contrary to the fundamental principles of international law and, consequently,
seriously disturbs international peace and security.
3. Racial prejudice, historically linked with inequalities in power, reinforced by economic and social
differences between individuals and groups, and still seeking today to justify such inequalities, is
totally without justification.
Any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin or
religious intolerance motivated by racist considerations, which destroys or compromises the sovereign
equality of States and the right of peoples to self-determination, or which limits in an arbitrary or
discriminatory manner the right of every human being and group to full development is incompatible
with the requirements of an international order which is just and guarantees respect for human rights;
the right to full development implies equal access to the means of personal and collective
advancement and fulfilment in a climate of respect for the values of civilizations and cultures, both
national and world-wide.
1. Any restriction on the complete self-fulfilment of human beings and free communication between
them which is based on racial or ethnic considerations is contrary to the principle of equality in dignity
and rights; it cannot be admitted.
2. One of the most serious violations of this principle is represented by apartheid , which, like
genocide, is a crime against humanity, and gravely disturbs international peace and security.
3. Other policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination constitute crimes against the
conscience and dignity of mankind and may lead to political tensions and gravely endanger
international peace and security.
1. Culture, as a product of all human beings and a common heritage of mankind, and education in its
broadest sense, offer men and women increasingly effective means of adaptation, enabling them not
only to affirm that they are born equal in dignity and rights, but also to recognize that they should
respect the right of all groups to their own cultural identity and the development of their distinctive
cultural life within the national and international contexts, it being understood that it rests with each
group to decide in complete freedom on the maintenance, and, if appropriate, the adaptation or
enrichment of the values which it regards as essential to its identity.
2. States, in accordance with their constitutional principles and procedures, as well as all other
competent authorities and the entire teaching profession, have a responsibility to see that the
educational resources of all countries are used to combat racism, more especially by ensuring that
curricula and textbooks include scientific and ethical considerations concerning human unity and
diversity and that no invidious distinctions are made with regard to any people; by training teachers to
achieve these ends; by making the resources of the educational system available to all groups of the
population without racial restriction or discrimination; and by taking appropriate steps to remedy the
handicaps from which certain racial or ethnic groups suffer with regard to their level of education and
standard of living and in particular to prevent such handicaps from being passed on to children.
3. The mass media and those who control or serve them, as well as all organized groups within
national communities, are urged-with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, particularly the principle of freedom of expression-to promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among individuals and groups and to contribute to the
eradication of racism, racial discrimination and racial prejudice, in particular by refraining from
presenting a stereotyped, partial, unilateral or tendentious picture of individuals and of various human
groups. Communication between racial and ethnic groups must be a reciprocal process, enabling them
to express themselves and to be fully heard without let or hindrance. The mass media should therefore
be freely receptive to ideas of individuals and groups which facilitate such communication.
1. The State has prime responsibility for ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms on an
entirely equal footing in dignity and rights for all individuals and all groups.
2. So far as its competence extends and in accordance with its constitutional principles and
procedures, the State should take all appropriate steps, inter alia by legislation, particularly in the
spheres of education, culture and communication, to prevent, prohibit and eradicate racism, racist
propaganda, racial segregation and apartheid and to encourage the dissemination of knowledge and
the findings of appropriate research in natural and social sciences on the causes and prevention of
racial prejudice and racist attitudes, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
3. Since laws proscribing racial discrimination are not in themselves sufficient, it is also incumbent on
States to supplement them by administrative machinery for the systematic investigation of instances
of racial discrimination, by a comprehensive framework of legal remedies against acts of racial
discrimination, by broadly based education and research programmes designed to combat racial
prejudice and racial discrimination and by programmes of positive political, social, educational and
cultural measures calculated to promote genuine mutual respect among groups. Where circumstances
warrant, special programmes should be undertaken to promote the advancement of disadvantaged
groups and, in the case of nationals, to ensure their effective participation in the decision-making
processes of the community.
In addition to political, economic and social measures, law is one of the principal means of ensuring
equality in dignity and rights among individuals, and of curbing any propaganda, any form of
organization or any practice which is based on ideas or theories referring to the alleged superiority of
racial or ethnic groups or which seeks to justify or encourage racial hatred and discrimination in any
form. States should adopt such legislation as is appropriate to this end and see that it is given effect
and applied by all their services, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Such legislation should form part of a political, economic and social
framework conducive to its implementation. Individuals and other legal entities, both public and
private, must conform with such legislation and use all appropriate means to help the population as a
whole to understand and apply it.
1. Individuals, being entitled to an economic, social, cultural and legal order, on the national and
international planes, such as to allow them to exercise all their capabilities on a basis of entire equality
of rights and opportunities, have corresponding duties towards their fellows, towards the society in
which they live and towards the international community. They are accordingly under an obligation to
promote harmony among the peoples, to combat racism and racial prejudice and to assist by every
means available to them in eradicating racial discrimination in all its forms.
2. In the field of racial prejudice and racist attitudes and practices, specialists in natural and social
sciences and cultural studies, as well as scientific organizations and associations, are called upon to
undertake objective research on a wide interdisciplinary basis; all States should encourage them to
3. It is, in particular, incumbent upon such specialists to ensure, by all means available to them, that
their research findings are not misinterpreted, and also that they assist the public in understanding
1. The principle of the equality in dignity and rights of all human beings and all peoples, irrespective of
race, colour and origin, is a generally accepted and recognized principle of international law.
Consequently any form of racial discrimination practised by a State constitutes a violation of
international law giving rise to its international responsibility.
2. Special measures must be taken to ensure equality in dignity and rights for individuals and groups
wherever necessary, while ensuring that they are not such as to appear racially discriminatory. In this
respect, particular attention should be paid to racial or ethnic groups which are socially or economically
disadvantaged, so as to afford them, on a completely equal footing and without discrimination or
restriction, the protection of the laws and regulations and the advantages of the social measures in
force, in particular in regard to housing, employment and health; to respect the authenticity of their
culture and values; and to facilitate their social and occupational advancement, especially through
3. Population groups of foreign origin, particularly migrant workers and their families who contribute to
the development of the host country, should benefit from appropriate measures designed to afford
them security and respect for their dignity and cultural values and to facilitate their adaptation to the
host environment and their professional advancement with a view to their subsequent reintegration in
their country of origin and their contribution to its development; steps should be taken to make it
possible for their children to be taught their mother tongue.
4. Existing disequilibria in international economic relations contribute to the exacerbation of racism and
racial prejudice; all States should consequently endeavour to contribute to the restructuring of the
international economy on a more equitable basis.
International organizations, whether universal or regional, governmental or non-governmental, are
called upon to co-operate and assist, so far as their respective fields of competence and means allow,
in the full and complete implementation of the principles set out in this Declaration, thus contributing
to the legitimate struggle of all men, born equal in dignity and rights, against the tyranny and
oppression of racism, racial segregation, apartheid and genocide, so that all the peoples of the world
may be forever delivered from these scourges.
Adopted and proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational,