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President of the Human Rights Council appoints members of Permanent Forum on People of African Descent

08 March 2022

Geneva, 8 March 2022 -- The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Federico Villegas (Argentina), today announced the appointment of Gaynel Diana Curry (Bahamas), Huang Hongjiang (China), Pastor Elías Murillo Martínez (Colombia), Michael McEchrane (Sweden) and Alice Angèle Nkom (Cameroon) to serve as five experts on the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.

The Forum, which became operational on 2 August 2021 through United Nations General Assembly resolution 75/314, serves as a platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent, as well as an advisory body to the Human Rights Council. Resolution 75/314 called for the President of the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to each appoint five of the Permanent Forum's ten members.

The five members appointed by the General Assembly, on 16 December 2021, are: Epsy Campbell Barr (Costa Rica) Justin Hansford (USA), Martin Kimani (Kenya) Mona Omar (Egypt) and June Soomer (Saint Lucia).

The ten-person Forum is tasked with providing expert advice and recommendations to the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and other United Nations' bodies, aimed at addressing challenges resulting from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance confronting people of African descent that impede their human rights.

The members, who serve in an independent capacity and will be guided by programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent, will also consider the elaboration of a United Nations declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent.

Biographies of the Human Rights Council-appointed Forum Members


[The press summary on the appointment of the other five members can be found here]

Gaynel Diana Curry (Bahamas) is a human rights advocate and an adjunct faculty member at the University of the Bahamas. Her major areas of expertise include gender equality and women's rights, ending violence against women and girls, anti-racial discrimination, human rights of people of African descent, human rights and sustainable development and international human rights law. She was previously the Director for Gender and Family Affairs at the Ministry of Social Services in the Bahamas, and previously served with the UN in various capacities in Geneva, New York, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Timor Leste. She has a Masters of International Law degree from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of London in the UK.

Huang Hongjiang (China) is a counsellor at the Department of International Organizations and Conferences, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. He served at the Chinese Mission to the African Union in Ethiopia, in Liberia and as the Senior Advisor to the Chairperson of the Ceasefire and Transition al Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism based in Juba, South Sudan, and also at the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, as a political advisor covering peacekeeping and peacebuilding affairs in central and western Africa, Middle East and Haiti. Mr. Huang has a MA Degree in International Law from the Foreign Affairs College in China a BA Degree in English Language and Literature from Xiamen University in China.

Pastor Elías Murillo Martínez (Colombia) is currently an independent consultant and a Former Vice-Chairperson of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He was also the Commissioner for the PAHO/WHO Independent Regional Review of Gender, Ethnicity, Human Rights and Equity in Health. He has more than 15 years of experience at the managerial and advisory levels of the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs of Colombia, in the field of human rights, especially referring to people of African descent and other ethnic groups. He is a lawyer with a specialisation in environmental law, and diploma in human rights.

Michael McEchrane (Sweden) is a scholar-activist with connections to African-descendent civil society organizations across the world, and has contributed to Black Studies, African Diaspora Studies and the study of the human rights of people of African descent in Europe. He is a visiting researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights in Sweden, and a Board Member of Black Lives Matter Sweden. He is also on the international leadership team for the global African and African Diaspora Conference, and is the co-founder of the European Network of People of African Descent, the International Coalition for People of African Descent, and IDPAD Coalition UK. He received a PhD in Philosophy from Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

Alice Angèle Nkom (Cameroon) is a lawyer by profession and the President of the Cameroonian Association for the Defense of Homosexuality (ADEFHO), which she established more than 18 years ago. Ms. Nkom was the first female called to the Bar in Cameroon. She has received the 7thHuman Rights Award by the German section of Amnesty International in 2014, the Central African Shield Prize, awarded by the Pan-African Network of Human Rights Defenders in 2015, and the IDAHOT Prize for Freedom in France in 2018. She studied at the University of Toulouse in France and the Federal University of Cameroon.


More information on the Permanent Forum