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Discussion of possible reparations. on the 3rd meeting of the UN Special Organisation of People of African Descent. More than 12.5 million Africans were forced into slavery over 4 centuries





Declaration on the human rights of people of African descent

Permanent Forum on People of African Descent


In resolution A/RES/76/226 of December 2021, the General Assembly invited the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent to contribute to the elaboration of a draft United Nations Declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent. Given the Forum’s mandate, outlined in A/RES/75/314, to act as “a consultative mechanism for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders” and “as a platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent”, the Permanent Forum issued a call for viewpoints in advance of early discussions on the draft Declaration.

Civil society actors, non-governmental organizations, academics and experts working on issues related to people of African descent were invited to submit written statements on the potential scope and content of a draft United Nations Declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent.

Informed by these statements, the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent will share its preliminary views on the Declaration at the 20th session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, held from 10 to 21 October 2022 in Geneva. The content of the Permanent Forum’s preliminary submission, and the statements received by the Permanent Forum from other stakeholders, are below.

Statements from non-governmental organizations, academics, experts and other civil society actors on a draft United Nations Declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect of the human rights of people of African Descent




WCC General Recommendations for UN PFPAD Third Session (16-19 April 2024)


#WCC webinar: "The New UN Forum on People of African descent


The World Council of Churches (WCC), a global fellowship of 352 churches representing more than half a billion Christians from around the world, has been deeply involved in the work of the United Nations from as early as 1946 through its Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA). The WCC is a platform for common action by churches on issues that negate or threaten the dignity of all people. 

WCC Programmes

18 April 2024


In partnership with other faith actors, the WCC hosted a pre-sessional event on 15 April 2024 to discuss the lived experiences of Africans and People of African Descent in preparation for the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on People of African Descent’s third session (16 – 19 April 2024) in Geneva. The gathering sought to engage, from a faith perspective, the theme of the third session, “The Second International Decade for People of African Descent: Addressing Systemic Racism, Reparatory Justice, and Sustainable Development.”


Reading the Signs of our Times

As faith actors, we are made up of racially diverse communities: some among our key leaders are People of African Descent, and as churches, we also work with People of African Descent in and around the world. As such, we must acknowledge with a sense of disappointment, that interpersonal racial prejudices and discrimination, as well as systemic racism, continue to be major obstacles to the lives and dignity of People of African Descent. Government policies covering economic participation, access to education, health, housing, migration, and political interventions in conflict zones continue to display elements of racial profiling and racial partiality.

We are saddened by the realization that even as we draw nearer to the end of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, we see many of these goals as unrealized and clearly unrealizable within the time frame, we are particularly worried by increased inequalities throughout the world as opposed to SDG10 whose goal is to reduce inequalities. What we witness are widening gender inequalities, racial inequalities, education inequalities, digital inequalities and economic inequalities. This observation is sadly true of all SDGs, but SDG13 and 16 and their implementation is a genuine cause for concern.

As we gather, we cannot help but feel the weight and pain of the dark cloud that engulfs our sisters and brothers in Haiti. The consequences of enslavement and colonization and the injustice of paying for one’s liberation and the continuing impact of coloniality in the affairs of Haiti are responsible for the experiences of rejection, exclusion, abandonment and hopelessness among our sisters and brothers. Sadly, the world remains indifferent!

We are equally disappointed that the economic extraction activities of multinational corporations from the Global North, including Russia and China, continue to dwarf the credits and aid that is flowing to states that are predominantly inhabited by People of African Descent. This economic imbalance is a major threat to the development of these states, that have been exploited since the emergence of this global economic regime.

While there is no dispute as to who are the major contributors to the climate crisis that the world faces today because of its association with industrialization, there is equally no doubt about who are carrying the heaviest burden of the climate crisis. Africans and People of African Descent are among the most vulnerable people. Together with the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islandsin the Pacific region and other low-lying island states, the African continent is also paying a heavy price for the excesses of the developed countries.

We bemoan the senseless and avoidable loss of lives of people on the move, in the Mediterranean Sea, Rio Grande River, English Channel, in the forests of Asia, as people are forced by climate change, conflict and economic problems to seek for alternative spaces for earning a decent living.

We are saddened by the indifference and inaction by those who have the means but not the will to solve the problems that disproportionately affect People of African Descent, whether it be the climate crisis, conflict, extraction without beneficiation of natural resources in their countries of origin, and the lack of meaningful participation by Africans and People of African Descent in decision-making beyond mere token representation.

As a faith-based organization, acknowledging the religious plurality of our world, we want to observe with great concern that states are sometimes creating a toxic environment in the world by singling out some faith communities as sponsors of violence, even when it is clear that only some elements within the religious traditions concerned are responsible for violent responses. The continued association of religion and violence, conflict, and the disregard of human rights continues to negatively impact the good work that most religious communities are doing throughout the world. While we acknowledge the need for peer accountability mechanisms in order to hold ourselves to the highest standards possible, we call on the UN to acknowledge and continue to partner with faith communities.

We wish to acknowledge that the events of the past few years, especially the creation of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in August 2021, as an indicator of the momentum that has been gained in addressing the lived experiences of People of African Descent. However, we are concerned that the International Decade for People of African Descent is coming to an end at a time when it had actually become visible for many people. We are concerned that unless swift concrete follow-up is undertaken, the gains of the past few years might be lost.


Key Affirmations

As we gathered here in Geneva, we affirm:

1. That some of our members (Christian churches), and Civil Society Partners are taking leadership in many places in championing the dignity, rights and humanity of People of African Descent in ways that are transformational and transformative both locally and globally. This includes work on reparations and reparatory justice, as well as implementation strategies to challenge systemic racism.2. The resilience of People of African Descent beginning with our ancestors who survived conditions that made them less than human, even thrived not only in their faith but socially, culturally, economically and politically making contributions that remain pivotal for our world even though most of it still not fully acknowledged.3. The resilience of Women and Girls of African Descent, who despite carrying a disproportionate burden of inequalities, continue to thrive and continue to claim and advance their cause.4. That economic independence is a sign of sustainable development.5. The right of the people of Haiti to self-determination.6. We will continue to play our role with and among People of African Descent in the Second Decade for People of African Descent.7. The long-standing relationship between the WCC, and other faith bodies, with the United Nations, a relationship that begins in the aftermath of World War II and is still going strong 75 years later. Continued cooperation on issues of common concern are key to our ongoing working practice.8. The right to racial dignity and equality in worship in our places of worship.Key RecommendationsWe, therefore, make the following recommendations:Panel #1: Reparations, Sustainable Development & Economic Justice1. We recommend an explicit acknowledgement that all People of African Descent are entitled to human dignity and all human rights, including the right to development.2. We recommend a declaration and recognition that enslavement and colonization were and are “crimes against humanity” and “genocidal”.3. We recommend the recognition and acknowledgement of the economic impact of enslavement and colonization and the fact that People of African Descent, Africans and “Black” people are victims of racist political and economic systems that have inhibited their economic progress and right to development.4. We recommend and acknowledge the need for intentional and holistic reparations for People of African Descent, Africans and Black people for the centuries of racially motivated plunder and exploitation and continuing vulnerabilities to climate crisis and unfair economic practices, including an unconditional debt cancellation for states in the global south.5. We recommend humane migration, refugee and asylum-seekers’ policies, that acknowledge and uphold the dignity of people who are fleeing from dangerous situations.6. We recommend a declaration that extraction and repatriation of natural resources without beneficiation and adequate recompense for the origin countries and communities is an unfair economic practice.7. We recommend a declaration that acknowledges the impact of the intersections of gender and racial inequalities as they pertain to the wellbeing of Women and Girls of African Descent.Panel #2: Education: Overcoming Systemic Racism and Historic Harm8. We recommend for all states to institute thorough equity, diversity and inclusion audits of education curricula to reframe the narrative on People of African Descent to stem racial violence that is perpetuated by the school and tertiary curricula.9. We recommend a deliberate and thorough decolonization of the epistemologies of the West that have been responsible for centuries of epistemicide (the genocide/murder of epistemologies) in former colonized communities and an intentional rehabilitation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems from around the world.10. We recommend a declaration recognizing that the historic debt imposed on the people of Haiti for their independence was unlawful and must therefore be returned and acomprehensive reparations mechanism be put in place for the historic and continuing harms perpetuated against the people of Haiti.Panel #3: Culture & Recognition11. We recommend a decolonization and deconstruction of whiteness as the universal standard of human cultures, which has been responsible for the death or marginalization of non-western cultures resulting in widespread spiritualicide (the genocide/murder of spiritualities), including for People of African Descent.12. We recommend an unconditional return, with compensation, of all stolen cultural artifacts, artistic items and musical inventions that are held or commercialized in the Global North to their rightful owners under decolonized property rights. These cultural items are not simply lyrics, wooden or stone pieces; they are symbols of a people’s spirituality.Panel #4: The Second International Decade for People of African Descent: Expectations and Challenges13. We recommend the declaration of the Second International Decade for People of African Descent to capitalize on the momentum that has been generated in the past few years. We sincerely request the UN to declare January 2025 to December 2034 as the Second International Decade for People of African Descent.


Partners Co-Signing

Center for the Repair of Historical Harms, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)Pennsylvania Council of Churches (USA)Africans for Africa’s Liberation Organisation (Africa)United Church of Canada

Background

Around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent.

Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, they constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups.

For centuries, people of African descent were marginalized as part of the legacy of slavery and colonialism. There is a growing consensus that racism and racial discrimination have caused people of African descent to be held back in many aspects of public life. They have suffered exclusion and poverty and are often ’invisible‘ in official statistics. There has been progress, but the situation persists, to varying degrees, in many parts of the world.


General Assembly creates new Permanent Forum of People of African Descent

UN Photo/Logan Abassi


2 August 2021Human Rights

Capping years of deliberations, the UN General Assembly on Monday established a new platform to improve the lives of Afro-descendants, who have for centuries suffered the ills of racism, racial discrimination and the legacy of enslavement around the globe.

The 193-member body unanimously adopted a resolution establishing the United Nations Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, a 10-member advisory body that will work closely with the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

The new Forum will serve as a consultation mechanism for people of African descent and other stakeholders, and contribute to the elaboration of a UN declaration – a “first step towards a legally binding instrument” on the promotion and full respect of the rights of people of African descent.

Further, it will work to identify and analyze best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives to address issues relevant to people of African descent as highlighted in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was adopted 20 years ago at a landmark UN summit against racism and discrimination.

‘Compounding inequalities’

Negotiations on the modalities of the Permanent Forum have been under way since November 2014, when the General Assembly officially launched the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

Through the resolution adopted on Monday – which articulates the new body’s mandate for the first time – the Assembly expressed alarm at the spread of racist extremist movements around the globe, and deplored the “ongoing and resurgent scourges” of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The move comes just days after the Human Rights Council established a panel of experts to investigate systemic racism in policing against people of African descent, and on the heels of a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

In that report and various public statements, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has pointed to the “compounding inequalities” and “stark socioeconomic and political marginalization” faced by Africans and people of African descent in many countries.

The report also notes that “no State has comprehensively accounted for the past or for the current impact of systemic racism” and calls for a transformative agenda to tackle violence against Afro-descendants.

UN-wide expert advice

The Permanent Forum of People of African Descent will be made up of five members nominated by Governments and then elected by the General Assembly, and five additional members appointed by the Human Rights Council.

Among other mandates tasks, it will seek to advance the full political, economic and social inclusion of people of African descent in the societies in which they live – as equal citizens without discrimination, and with equal enjoyment of human rights – and contribute to the elaboration of a UN declaration on the rights of persons of African descent.

The Forum will provide expert advice and recommendations to the Human Rights Council, the Assembly’s main committees, and the various UN entities working on issued related to racial discrimination.

Best practices

It will also collect best practices and monitor progress on the effective implementation of the International Decade’s activities, gathering relevant information from Governments, UN bodies, non-governmental groups and other relevant sources.

The first session of the Permanent Forum will be held in 2022, with subsequent annual sessions rotating between Geneva and New York.




Addressing the Rights of People of African Descent: Press Conference | United Nations Nov 1, 2023

Press conference by Epsy Campbell Barr, Chairperson of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, on human rights for people of African descent. The Chairperson of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, Epsy Campbell Barr, said that a new report “highlights that people of African descent around the world continue to be victims of systemic racial discrimination and receive racialized attacks.” Briefing journalists in New York today (31 Oct), Barr continued, “Indeed, the legacies of colonialism and slavery and apartheid are still alive today and have a real impact in the life of millions of people of African descent around the world.” The Chairperson also said, “It makes them – us – more exposed to violence and death as a result of encounters with law enforcement officials. It also makes them more exposed to wealth disparities, as they also bear the burden of interregional and transgenerational trauma, coped with the profound impact that racism and racial discrimination have on both cyclical and mental health.” According to Barr, “in all this, vulnerable groups among people of African descent, including migrants, person with disability, LGTBTIQ+ experience, compound effects of discrimination and are already far left behind to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The Chairperson concluded, “The Permanent Forum, we make sure to include the issue of reparations, along with other main concerns of people of African descent, in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Also in 2024, we are asking to the new international decade for people of African descent, because, in 2024, we end the first decade on people of African descent.”








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