The paper provides an overview of the incidence and forms of racism throughout the world, and discusses their causes. Racism exists in various forms in nearly all countries, and is a major threat to minorities, to human rights, to public order and to democracy. After a period of relative decline, racism is today on the increase in many areas. In many cases, states tolerate or even participate in racist practices.

Racism cannot be seen in isolation: it is often linked to forms of oppression based on sexism, religious persecution, political conflict, economic exploitation or international conflict. Anti-racist strategies must therefore be based on the principles of universality and indivisibility of human rights.

The increasing incidence of racism in many areas is linked to current rapid changes in global economic, political and cultural relations, which have led to crises in political institutions, employment, social structures, culture and national identity. Such crises express themselves in insecurity and disorientation for some groups, and in increasing levels of violence.

This analysis indicates the need for a multi-faceted approach to combating racism. This should include: • First, fundamental economic and social policies designed to achieve social justice, security and the best possible life-chances for the whole population. • Second, governments should introduce specific anti-racist legislation, policies and agencies. • Third, there is a major role for active work by non-governmental organisations, and • Fourth, there is a need for close cooperation between government agencies and non-governmental organisations.