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One-year anniversary of Nova Scotia’s "Count Us In" Action Plan

Video by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet

10 December 2020

I am pleased to join you in celebrating the first anniversary of Nova Scotia’s “Count Us In” Action Plan.

And I commend Nova Scotia for its valuable contributions to implementing the United Nations International Decade for People of African descent in Canada.

Worldwide, racial discrimination is a persisting and pervasive human rights violation.

A threat that has been laid bare by COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues to claim human lives and livelihoods, it also continues to expose and exacerbate grave challenges that afflict all of our societies.

Widespread inequalities. Structural and systemic racism that has existed for centuries.

The impact of the pandemic has been worse for groups who have already been systematically excluded and marginalised. Among them, as we know, are people of African descent.

The challenges we face are enormous, but crises can also be opportunities for transformation.

And this is precisely our call to action on this Human Rights Day: to recover better.

Recovering better means putting equality and non-discrimination at the heart of our societies, including through public policies for social inclusion and protection.

Recovering better also means listening to the call of millions of people who have demonstrated in the streets, rejecting racial discrimination and police violence.

In this regard, next year, as requested by the Human Rights Council, I will publish a comprehensive report on systemic racism and violations of international human rights law committed by law enforcement, especially the incidents that led to the death of George Floyd and other Africans and people of African descent.

In addition, next year we also mark the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the mid-term review of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Both provide us with an opportunity to redouble our efforts to address the current manifestations of racial discrimination everywhere.

Dear friends,

Recovering better will ultimately depend on redefining models of development and patterns of behaviour, replacing cultures of privilege with a culture of equality, mutual respect and rights.

We need everyone’s participation.

I welcome the “Count Us In” call to action for providing a concrete framework to achieving recognition, justice and development for African Nova Scotians.

And I encourage you to continue recognizing the contributions and celebrating the history and heritage of people of African descent living in Nova Scotia.

My Office looks forward to continuing our collaboration to address racism and to build inclusive and equitable societies, including through the International Decade for People of African descent.

Thank you for joining us in standing up for human rights.