General Assembly: 97th Plenary Meeting, 75th Session

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02-Aug-2021 02:09:23
General Assembly establishes permanent forum for people of African descent as ‘consultative mechanism’, advisory body to Human Rights Council.

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In a landmark decision, the General Assembly established today a 10‑member subsidiary organ that will serve as a standing forum to hear the voices of people of African descent and help eliminate all forms of discrimination against them.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution titled “Establishment of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent”, deciding that the subsidiary organ will function as “a consultative mechanism” for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders. Additionally, it will also contribute to the full political, economic and social inclusion of that population as equal citizens without discrimination of any kind. It will also serve as an advisory body to the Human Rights Council.

Also by the text, the Assembly mandated the Permanent Forum to consider the elaboration of a United Nations declaration on the promotion, protection of and full respect for the human rights of people of African descent, and to identify and analyse best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives to address the issues highlighted in the provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The Permanent Forum will consist of five members nominated by Governments and elected by the General Assembly, and five members appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council. It will meet annually, rotating between the United Nations Office at Geneva and New York Headquarters, or other venues decided by the Assembly.

Guyana’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), welcomed the resolution, highlighting the fact that its adoption took place on the anniversary of the abolition of slavery across much of the Caribbean region, nearly 200 years ago. The “momentous” text will go down in history as the day the United Nations took action to establish a critical venue for people of African descent, she declared.

Chad’s representative, co-facilitator of negotiations on the draft, said it strikes a delicate balance among the various positions of Member States, and gives tangible form to an intention first set out in 2014.

Nigeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of African Group, described the unanimous text as a “milestone” in the fight against racism.

Costa Rica’s delegate, the other co-facilitator, hailed today’s action as a dream come true for people of African descent.

However, several delegates, including those of the United States and United Kingdom, emphasized that elaborating a new United Nations declaration on the human rights of people of African descent falls within the purview of Member States, not the Permanent Forum.

Also speaking today were representatives of Slovenia (for the European Union), Israel, Mexico, Chile, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa and Algeria, as well as the Permanent Observer for the Holy See.

The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

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