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UN experts welcome adoption of programme for the International Decade for People of African Descent

GENEVA (20 November 2014) – The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent welcomed the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) as an important political commitment in the fight against racism. 

The experts recognized that this programme is the outcome of the hard work of many stakeholders including people of African descent. They emphasized that the International Decade for People of African Descent, with its focus on Recognition, Justice and Development, is an historic opportunity to strengthen efforts to eradicate all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, afrophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent.

The Working Group said it was happy with the role it had played in contributing to the development of the programme of activities and the theme for the Decade. The programme of activities is based on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted in 2001.

The experts encouraged member states, NGOs and civil society to join in the official launch of the International Decade scheduled for 10 December 2014, in New York, to share information on the human rights situation of people of African descent and to plan action to implement the programme of activities and address their concerns.

“Today, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are further reinforced by the prevalence of inequality, marginalization and stigmatization of people of African descent. We encourage Member States, civil society and all stakeholders to consolidate efforts to correct this situation and protect the human rights of people of African descent by implementing the programme of activities for the Decade at the national, regional and international levels in partnership with concerned communities,” the experts added. 

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The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established on 25 April 2002 by the then Commission on Human Rights, following the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001. The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France); Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica); Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa); Mr. Ricardo A. SUNGA III (the Philippines) and Mr. Michal BALCERZAK (Poland).  Learn more, visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx

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.

For more information and media requests, please contact Christina Saunders, (+41 22 928 9197 / csaunders@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@ohchr.org

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