In common language this term is often used to refer to positive measures or positive action. However, it is important to stress that ‘positive discrimination’ technically makes no sense. In accordance with the now general practice of using the term ‘discrimination’ exclusively to designate ‘arbitrary’, ‘unjust’ or ‘illegitimate distinctions’, the term ‘positive discrimination’ is a contradiction in terms: either the distinction in question is justified and legitimate (because it is not arbitrary) and therefore cannot be called ‘discrimination’, or the distinction in question is unjustified or illegitimate (because it is arbitrary) and should not be labelled ‘positive’. Preferable terms are therefore positive action, positive measures and affirmation action measures.
See: positive action; positive measures.
Based on United Nations Economic and Social Council (2002). Prevention of Discrimination: The Concept and Practice of Affirmative Action. 17 June 2002.