Congress approves Inter-American Convention against Racism

Brazil’s National Congress today (Feb. 19) approved the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance, originally approved in Guatemala 2013 during the 43rd Ordinary Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, in 2013. The Legislative Decree signed by Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco was published in the country’s official gazette.

The text was ratified by the lower house in December last year, and by the Senate early this month. It will now be submitted to President Jair Bolsonaro for ratification through a decree.

The countries that have ratified the convention agree to prevent, eliminate, prohibit, and punish all acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, and intolerance under their constitutional norms and in compliance with the rules of the convention.

In general terms, the convention stipulates that discrimination takes place when there is distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, skin color, lineage, or national or ethnic origin of an individual “with the purpose or effect of nullifying or restricting the acknowledgment, enforcement, or exercise, in equal conditions, of one or more human rights and fundamental liberties consecrated in the international devices applicable in the participating states.”

The text also includes the fight against violations motivated by sexual orientation, gender identity, and a stigmatized contagious disease. The convention defines intolerance as “behavior that shows disrespect, rejection, or contempt of the dignity, characteristics, convictions, or opinions of people for being different or contrary.”


The Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance stems from negotiations initiated in 2005 by the Organization of American States (OAS). In 2011, the first drafts of the text were unveiled during the 3rd World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, which was held in Durban, South Africa.

*With information from Agência Câmara de Notícias