Racial Inequality Around the World
The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Finland are the best countries for racial equality, according to a global survey. Other nations, however, weren’t so lucky in terms of their reputation.
Several countries in Eastern Europe are viewed as having a poor record on racial equality, according to the 2022 Best Countries report. Two East Asian and two Middle Eastern countries also made the list.
Racial equity is one of 11 attributes used to develop a social purpose subranking that factors into the 2022 Best Countries rankings from U.S. News. The overall Best Countries analysis is based on a survey of more than 17,000 global citizens, and assessed perceptions of 85 countries using 73 different metrics. To develop this ranking, the racial equity score a country received was connected to responses from survey participants who agreed moderately or strongly with the statement that a country is stronger when it is racially and ethnically diverse.
The following are the 10 countries viewed as the worst for racial equality. Learn more about how countries are assessed in the Best Countries methodology.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 10
Best Countries Overall Rank: 63
Human Rights Watch notes that longtime Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has used the COVID-19 pandemic to increase his power through restrictive new laws and a failure “to protect the social and economic rights of marginalized groups.” The country’s courts in 2021 also held several mass trials against members of the political opposition and human rights defenders, according to the watchdog organization.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 9
Best Countries Overall Rank: 82
Experts from the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in April 2022 commended Kazakhstan for its near-universal school enrollment. One committee member acknowledged that the country had “made efforts to create harmony between the various ethnic groups” while noting, however, that inter-ethnic tensions still exist there. The committee recommended that Kazakhstan improve local training for identifying and resolving ethnic tensions and asked that authorities increase measures to monitor online racist hate speech.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 8
Best Countries Overall Rank: 54
The Roma people – Romania’s largest ethnic minority – are forced to endure social and economic exclusion, discrimination and hate speech, such as racist slurs found on social media during the pandemic blaming them for spreading COVID-19, according to the United Nations. The country passed a law in 2021 to combat such hate speech, but the U.N. has questions about how effective it will be.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 7
Best Countries Overall Rank: 85
Freedom House rates Belarus as a “not free” country, including a score of just six out of 60 when it comes to civil liberties. In 2021, security forces reportedly raided the offices and homes of human rights advocates, and authorities ordered the dissolution of more than 270 independent nonprofit organizations and public associations. Additionally, no registered party in Belarus represents the specific interests of ethnic, religious or other minority groups, Freedom House notes.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 6
Best Countries Overall Rank: 36
Immigrants and ethnic minorities, such as the Tatars and Roma people, in Russia “face governmental and societal discrimination and harassment,” according to Freedom House. A May 2022 book from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign history professor Eugene Avrutin surmises that Russia is perhaps the most dangerous country in the world when it comes to racial violence.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 5
Best Countries Overall Rank: 37
The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2019 urged Israel toward greater inclusion and protection of minorities. Committee experts said at the time that the country was “swiping away core citizen and fundamental rights” of its non-Jewish population. The Israel Religious Action Center, an organization that works to secure civil and human rights in the country, views “racism as one of the greatest threats to Israeli society today.”
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 4
Best Countries Overall Rank: 20
Human Rights Watch finds that discrimination against several demographic groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, is “pervasive” in South Korea. Racial discrimination in the country in particular “does not get much attention from the public, the media or the government because the ethnic minority population is so small,” Gi-Wook Shin, director of Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, noted in a university interview in March 2021.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 3
Best Countries Overall Rank: 29
E. Tendayi Achiume, the United Nations’ fifth special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said following a visit to Qatar in late 2019 that she had “serious concerns of structural racial discrimination against non-nationals” in the country. She added that the discrimination and inequality she observed was “in part influenced by Qatar’s history of slavery, and the contemporary legacies of this history.” The country came under the spotlight amid reports of thousands of migrants dying from heat and poor working and living conditions while working to prepare Qatar for its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to Human Right
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 2
Best Countries Overall Rank: 59
The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted in August 2022 that more than 500 members of neo-Nazi groups were active in Slovakia and free to organize events. While the committee noted that issues exist with school enrollment rates and housing segregation for the country’s Roma people, the U.N. experts also commended Slovakia for improving its census methodologies, which could be used to strengthen minority rights.
Worst Countries for Racial Equality Rank: 1
Best Countries Overall Rank: 60
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, found in a March 2020 report that “hate speech, discrimination and hostility against Roma, LGBTI people and persons belonging to other minority groups remain an issue of acute concern” in Bulgaria. The report noted that a stronger commitment was needed to combat racism in the country.