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UN independent experts urge practical measures to eradicate racial discrimination

International Decade for People of African Descent

GENEVA (10 December 2014) – A group of independent experts* of the largest fact-finding and monitoring mechanism of the United Nations human rights system today called upon UN Member States and all stakeholders to increase their efforts to address the challenge of racism and racial discrimination.

On the occasion of the official launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent on 10 December, also the International Human Rights Day, the UN experts welcomed the takeoff of the International Decade as a significant political commitment in the fight against racial discrimination:

“People of African descent of all ages often face institutional racism and multiple forms of discrimination and, as a result, their fundamental human rights and dignity are violated.

Racial discrimination leads to marginalization and marginalization exacerbates the inability of individuals whose rights are more likely to be violated to effectively exercise their fundamental rights. States should take affirmative action measures to ensure that all individuals, without distinction of any kind, have the ability to exercise effectively their rights, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Economic, social and cultural rights and their implementation are fundamental to the elimination of discrimination and inequality of people of African descent around the world. The socio-economic disadvantages suffered by people of African descent are intimately related to historic and contemporary discrimination in access to health, education and housing.

Sadly, the historical prevalence of racial discrimination has been reinforced in present times by increasing socio-economic inequalities, exclusion and violence against people of African descent in many societies.

The International Decade is therefore an important opportunity to eradicate all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, afrophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent around the world.

The International Decade will focus on recognition, justice and development for people of African descent, and we urge Member States, civil society, National Human Rights Institutions and the United Nations to combine efforts and implement practical programmes at the national, regional and international levels on the focus areas to eradicate racism and racial discrimination during the Decade.

We, as human rights experts of the United Nations System, fully support the International Decade for People of African Descent and will actively contribute to its success.”

(*) The experts: The UN Working Groups of Experts on people of African descent, on arbitrary detention, and on the use of mercenaries; the Special Rapporteurs on racism, on freedom of religion or belief, on the situation of human rights defenders, on minority issues, on the right to food, on the right to health, on the right adequate housing, on violence against women, on counter terrorism and human rights, on freedom of expression, on freedom of association, on the sale of children, on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on toxic waste; and the Independent Experts on the situation of human rights in Haiti, on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, on environment and human rights, and on the human rights of older persons.

The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For further information and media inquiries, please contact Christina Saunders (+41 22 289197 / csaunders@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@ohchr.org.

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