Timeline 1900 – 2017

UNESCO Statement by Experts on Race Problems

The Statement by Experts on Race Problems (SS/1) was issued on 20 July 1950 in Paris by UNESCO. There were 8 signatories from 8 different countries and Professor Ashley Montagu (of the USA) was rapporteur. Twelve outside experts including Dr Julian S Huxley from Britain, provided criticism. The statement suggested dropping the term ‘race’ and using ‘ethnic groups’ instead. The experts affirm that ‘all men belong to the same species…and are probably derived from the same common stock’. They state that races are populations separated by differences in gene frequency, the differing genes being ‘few when compared to the whole genetic constitution of man’.  They argue that the biological fact of race and the myth of “race” should be distinguished and that there is ‘no biological justification for prohibiting inter-marriage between persons of different ethnic groups.’

The Eugenics Review saw the challenge that the statement posed and sought to diminish its importance by criticising the list of experts (which they noted excluded Professor Herkovits, one of the high priests of anthropometry).

With respect to race-mixture, the evidence points unequivocally to the fact that this has been going on from the earliest times. Indeed, one of the chief processes of race-formation and race-extinction or absorption is by means of hybridization between races or ethnic groups. Furthermore, no convincing evidence has been adduced that race-mixture of itself produces biologically bad effects. Statements that human hybrids frequently show undesirable traits, both physically and mentally, physical disharmonies and mental degeneracies, are not supported by the facts. There is, therefore, no biological justification for prohibiting inter-marriage between persons of different ethnic groups.

The marriage of Peggy Cripps and Joe Appiah from Mixed Britannia, BBC Two, TX October 2011. Copyright BBC