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Swift and decisive action needed to end racial discrimination, say UN experts

24 September 2019

GENEVA (24 September 2019) – The use of divisive language and the marginalisation of people of African descent has facilitated violence, intolerance and bigotry, a group of UN human rights experts told the Human Rights Council in Geneva today.

“The struggle to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia faced by people of African descent is still as vital as ever,” said Ahmed Reid, the chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. “The international community must take swift and decisive action, since no country is free from racism.”

The Working Group presented country-specific findings and recommendations following visits to Belgium and Argentina, as well as its annual report which includes a focus on “Data for racial justice”. The report underlines that where data exists, it highlights and addresses institutional racism and racial disparity. The experts commend states that have begun recognizing and collecting disaggregated data on Afro-descendant populations.

“Mapping and analysis of disaggregated data are crucial to inform policy priorities relating to equality and human rights for people of African descent. Data must inform the development of legislation, policies, and other measures aimed at addressing racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, xenophobia and other related intolerance against people of African descent,” said Reid.

“Member States should take steps to ensure that social media platforms and other data-driven enterprises do not reinforce historical bias or accredit data reflecting racially biased policy and practices.”

The experts call on Member States to implement the Programme of Activities for the International Decade for People of African Descent in their own countries as a step towards ending racial discrimination.


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. It is composed of five independent experts: Mr. Ahmed Reid (Jamaica), current Chair-Rapporteur; Ms Dominique Day (United States of America), Vice-Chairperson; Mr. Michal Balcerzak (Poland); Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa), and Mr. Ricardo A. Sunga III (The Philippines).

The Working Group 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 system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms 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: Ms. Christina Saunders (+41 22 928 9197 / [email protected]) or write to:  [email protected].

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 /  [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter  @UN_SPExperts. 

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