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Statements HRC subsidiary body

Statement to the General Assembly at the Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

22 September 2021

Ms. Edna Maria Santos Roland, Chairperson of the Group of Independent Eminent Experts 
on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

September 22th 2021 

Distinguished delegates, 

The Group of Independent Eminent Experts was given responsibility by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to engage in its full and effective implementation, with our members being appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, as requested by the DDPA.

The DDPA provides a roadmap for concrete action and marks a fundamental development in human rights. Its guidance is critical for long-term global initiatives such as the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and for emergency responses such as to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed the deep fractures of a world that was constructed on the basis of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism

Among the most important advances of the DDPA was the introduction of the concept of People of African Descent which has formed the basis for a great number of activities to provide justice for this community, most of whom were descendants of victims of the Transatlantic slave trade. The urgency of providing reparations for People of African Descent is now, is in full accordance with the DDPA and should be given high priority in the follow up of the 20th anniversary.

Regrettably, the DDPA is among the least disseminated UN programmes and our Group has come to the conclusion that the lack of public knowledge about the real content of the DDPA constitute the major obstacle towards generating political will for its full and effective implementation. It is obvious that people cannot use an instrument that they do not know that exists.

We deplore the organised disinformation campaign against the DDPA and this commemoration. It is a campaign which is not fact based and disregard that the DDPA was adopted by consensus by the World Conference and endorsed by the General. Assembly in March 2002 by all UN Member States except with the lonely votes of two against and two abstentions.

We urge the Human Rights Council as requested by the General Assembly to take action and adopt a comprehensive outreach programme to inform and mobilize the global public in support of the DDPA and to strengthen awareness of the contribution that they have made to the struggle against racism. This outreach programme should raise the visibility and accessibility of the DPPA, in collaboration with civil society organisations and communities subjected to racism and xenophobia and make the DDPA a central pillar of human rights education and implementation.

We finally stress the importance of keeping the momentum throughout the year of the anniversary to ensure a participatory process, including all regions, to bring justice to the DDPA.