UN General Assembly has devoted the period from 2015 until 2024 to the people of African descent, focusing on the need for strengthening national, regional and international cooperation regarding the right of this people to full participation in economic, social, cultural civil and political life as well as equal participation in all aspects of life.
As launched by the General Assembly, the slogan of the International Decade is „People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development“.
Second regional meeting, at the same time the first related to Europe, was opened on 23th November by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein who emphasised the need to also recognise multiple and intersectional discrimination, for example in providing health services for women.
She presented the Equinet survey on racial or ethnic discrimination in Europe, published in 2016, which showed that equality bodies across Europe had recorded a significant rise in racial discrimination, in hate speech, and in hate crime related to racial or ethnic origin. Although the EU legislation provides for a good legal framework for combating racial discrimination there is a growing need for its better implementation, she emphasised and proposed:
“We need better data, we need positive action measures, and we need to tackle underreporting. We need to educate against stereotypes and teach values. We also need to train professionals, and not just legal professionals, but police officers, nurses, social workers, civil servant: everyone working with persons of African descent. We need strategic litigations and ways to tackle the structural problems. We need to strengthen the entire equality infrastructure, and we need to ensure better implementation of existing legislation. And we need partnerships, with special emphasis on cooperating with persons of African descent.”
The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 68/237 and to be observed from 2015 to 2024, provides a solid framework for the United Nations, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of the programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice and development and ties in meaningfully with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. It is also a unique opportunity to build on the International Year for People of African Descent, which was observed by the international community in 2011, and to further underline the important contribution made by people of African descent to our societies and to propose concrete measures to promote their full inclusion and to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.