UNESCO recently welcomed a new batch of youth champions from around the world to fight racism and discrimination through a change in mindsets. More than 1500 students and teachers completed the 17th edition of the UNESCO Master Class against Racism and Discriminations held on 21 March 2022 on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.


Students from high schools and universities from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States of America participated in-person at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Students also connected online from Argentina, Austria, Egypt, France, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mongolia, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, opened the Master Class with a powerful call to action:

“Despite progress made, racism and discrimination remain a reality. The fight is not over! It requires the involvement of us all. As young people have the means to reverse racism and discrimination, including hate speech, intolerance and violence, we need your help, your heart, and your voices to deliver!”

Professor Evelyne Heyer of the Musée de l’Homme and Professor Helena Alviar of Sciences Politique delivered lectures on the processes of categorization and hierarchization to better understand racism. They explored questions on discrimination based on gender, race and class. City officials from UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR and the Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia shared their experiences to combat racism and discrimination at local level. Students from IES Profesor Domingo Ortiz school from Azuqueca de Henares in Spain projected an inspiring video which encapsulated all the activities undertaken since they attended the Master Class in March 2021.

Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s Creative Director, won the young students’ hearts as he inspired them to push for their freedom. He told them to be proud of who they are, regardless of their origins, background, gender and color. Sharing his personal experiences of growing up and facing racism himself, he encouraged the young women and men to take action to fight racism and discrimination.

“If you do not have love around you, try to find the strength in yourself to fight for your own freedom. Prove to the world that they are wrong. The world is changing, I feel it is still slow, but we need to keep believing. We have to fight for freedom, for who we are or who we want to be. Fight for yourself without any discrimination.” – Olivier RousteingBalmain’s Creative Director

Participants were also invited to take part in 8 intensive workshops on the topics of hate speech, antisemitism, negative perceptions of migrants and refugees, LGBTQ+ rights, systemic racism, the role of youth, intercultural competencies, and antiracism efforts in cities.

As part of the Master Class methodology, students are asked to formulate their own commitments on what they will do as new antiracism champions in their schools and communities. Inspired by the immersive discussions throughout the day, the students committed to teaching their peers and communities about understanding otherness and interculturality. They came up with ideas to apply in their own environments, such as producing school journals with articles about discrimination that occur in their school, celebrating International Days and conducting social media campaigns. UNESCO will engage in a continuous dialogue with the participating schools to keep track of the inspiring activities that they will implement.

The Master Class also included artistic performances:

  • a dancer from the École de cinéma Kourtrajmé, and
  • a student-led choir from Nancy (France), Karlsruhe (Germany), Liège (Belgium) and Newcastle (United Kingdom) who sang an original composition that spoke of hope and solidarity.

See also

  • Programme in English or French
  • Learn more on the Master Class Series
  • More on UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Programme

Institutional partners of this global edition include the

  • Musée de l’Homme,
  • Permanent Delegation of Canada,
  • Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia,
  • Mongolian National Commission,
  • French National Commission,
  • Gwangju International Center,
  • Cities of Atlanta, Bologna, Bordeaux, Cordoba, Heidelberg, Helsingborg, Karlsruhe, Lausanne, Liège, Montevideo, Montpellier, Nancy, Newcastle and Saint Etienne,
  • ETC Graz,
  • ASPNet,
  • International Institute of Human Rights and Peace,
  • Sciences Po,
  • Thorbeke Academy (Leeuwarden – Netherlands),
  • MAG Jeunes LGBTI+,
  • Center for Engaged Foresight,
  • Maison Balmain and
  • École Kourtrajmé.

The Master Class Series is part of the Roadmap against Racism that UNESCO is developing as part of its Global Call against Racism, which is contained in a decision adopted by Member States in December 2020. This Roadmap will strengthen UNESCO’s contribution to the fight against racism and discrimination across its field of competence, providing a strategic and operational framework to guide UNESCO’s action in this important area, especially in the critical post-crisis period.