The inaugural session of the United Nations Permanent Forum of People of African Descent (PFPAD) takes place at the Palace of Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 5-8 December 2022.
Organised via the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in consultation with an independent panel of human rights experts drawn from around the world, this international gathering brings together government representatives of Member States, United Nations staff, special rapporteurs on equalities and human rights, delegates from a global network of civil society organisations, racial justice activists, educators, health service providers, social and political scientists, heritage scholars and other key stakeholders actively involved in globalised action on anti-racism, equalities, rights legislation, cultural recognition and justice.
Objectives and Commitments
An estimated population of more than one billion people identify as being of African descent. Research undertaken by the United Nations over several decades evidences that inequalities of access to healthcare, a dearth of quality teaching and learning opportunities across the educational phases, unsafe and insecure places to live, employment precarity, and limited digital/technological connectivity disproportionately disrupt and blight the life chances of African-descended peoples world-wide. Consequently, this Forum provides a framework for gathering and synthesising information, engaging in critical debates and implementing improvements in relation to the following roles, objectives and commitments:
- Serving as an advisory consultative mechanism for the UN Human Rights Council on barriers to, and means of achieving, the “full and effective realization and enjoyment” by people of African descent “of all [their/our] human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
- Advising and making recommendations to the UN on matters concerning the protection, promotion and respect of all human rights of people of African descent
- Strengthening national, regional and international cooperation in relation to the full employment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent, and full and equal participation in all aspects of society.
- Engaging in thematic discussions on issues affecting the safety, quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent – with a particular focus during the 1st Forum on: (a) Racial discrimination, inequalities and challenges to sustainable development; (b) Climate justice; (c) Reparatory justice; (d) Connecting the past and the future – Equality for all.
- Drafting a collective declaration on the promotion and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent.
The provisional meeting schedule for the 1st PFPAD can be viewed online at https://africandescentforumsession1.sched.com/
Legacies and Outcomes: From the Durban Declaration to the PFPAD
The intended work of the PFPAD follows on from and augments longer-established international commitments and programmes of action published via the UN General Assembly’s Durban Declaration (2001), and also reinforced by UN Resolution 68/237 of 2013 – which designated the years 2015-2024 The International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD).
The 1st Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, therefore, marks another significant milestone in a timeline of formalised international action-planning and improvement strategies, advanced in recognition of the diverse contributions across all facets of life by people of African descent. However, an inseparable aspect of these acts of recognition is the simultaneous acknowledgment that significant and continuing barriers to full enjoyment of our inalienable human rights and fundamental freedoms remain as a result of the scourge of systemic racism, xenophobia, other forms of discrimination and intolerance, structural inequalities and the ongoing impacts of imperialism, enslavement, the trans-oceanic trafficking in enslaved Africans and colonialism.
The following selection of reports and resolutions, published via the United Nations over the past 12 months, help to shed further light on these matters and the PFPAD’s most acute priorities:
- Report of the United Nations Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (2021) – https://www.un.org/en/fight-racism/background/durban-declaration-and-programme-of-action
- United Nations General Assembly Resolution 75/314 and PFPAD Mandate (2021) – https://www.ohchr.org/en/permanent-forum-people-african-descent
- Selected Thematic Reports by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, E. Tendai Achiume: Climate Justice A/77/2290; 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development A/HRC/50/60; 20th Anniversary Report on the World Conference Against Racism A/76/434 (2022) – https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/sr-racism/annual-thematic-reports
Concluding remarks and next steps
More than 20 years on from the Durban Declaration, and almost a decade after the initial designation of the IDPAD, the United Nations’ continuing focus on the histories, lived experiences, educational opportunities, health outcomes, and future life chances of African-descended peoples – across the continent, and throughout the global diaspora – provides necessary research evidence and strategic leadership that helps to inform and undergird measurable trans-national and cross-cultural action to combat inequalities, rights violations and racism.
As issues of decolonisation, anti-racist teaching and learning, inclusive curricula, and equalities in education will feature during discussions at this inaugural gathering, as well as during future sessions of the PFPAD, readers and researchers engaging in these (and other) dialogues are most welcome to share your thoughts on the current and future priorities of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent.
I will be attending the 1st PFPAD as a CSO delegate at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, 5-8 December 2022, so please feel free to write c/o firstname.lastname@example.org, leave comments in the reply section below this post, or feedback via the “Your Voice” section of the shared space (https://decolonialdialogue.wordpress.com/your-voice/).
A report about the December forum’s outcomes will also be posted via the Decolonial Dialogues shared space at the end of the calendar year (click here).
Written by Carol Ann Dixon, Ph.D.
Researcher and Education Consultant
Co-Editor of Decolonial Dialogues
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