SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon called Monday for the world to reaffirm its commitment against racial discrimination amid concerns over a reported rise in anti-Asian sentiment related to the new coronavirus.
Choi made the call in a pre-taped speech for the UNESCO Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination, as the Korean community in the United States mourns the deaths of four women of Korean descent killed in last week's shootings in Atlanta.
"Given the recent upsurge of racial discrimination, indeed, this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to counter all forms of discrimination with a renewed sense of determination," Choi said.
Noting reports of hate speech, stigmatization and violence against certain racial groups, the vice minister said the COVID-19 pandemic was a painful reminder of how easily one can fall victim to "disinformation, suspicion and ignorance."
"Such inhuman behaviors not only undermine the fundamental tenets of human rights but damage international cooperation by weakening the mutual trust necessary to respond effectively to the crisis," he said.
"As clearly stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the elimination of racism and discrimination is a pressing task for us to tackle," he added, referring to the global agenda for a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.
Choi stressed the importance of education to combat racial prejudice.
"While the virus harms the body, discrimination harms the mind. Just as we need a vaccine to protect against a disease, we need education to fight against prejudice and hatred," he said.
The forum, which was held both online and offline, was attended by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.
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