“We Need Programs that Overcome Deep Rooted Institutional Discrimination” States a Participant at the UN Commemoration of the International Decade for People of African Descent

November 4, 2015

GFDD/Funglode was present at the UN for a special event titled, “Confronting the Silence: Perspectives and Dialogue on Structural Racism against People of African Descent Worldwide” on Wednesday November 3. The event, which commemorated the International Decade for People of African Descent Taking place (2015-2024) took place before a packed auditorium in the Economic and Social Council Chamber. Mr. Harry Belafonte, speaking in his capacity as UNICEF
Goodwill Ambassador gave the keynote address underlining that “the UN is the perfect setting for resolution of these conflicts.”

The panel discussion was organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in collaboration with the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Department of Public Information (DPI), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Organization of La Francophonie,
Black Lives Matter and Amnesty International USA.

The 2-hour debate featured numerous interventions by UN and civil society representatives.

Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance commented on the importance of the UN for providing international legal tools that help eliminate legal tooks. He stated that the “Durban Declaration provides a plan of action to eliminate racial profiling”.

Speaking about the effect that racism has on
communities Ms. Mireille Fanon-Mendes France, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent stated that “Race prevents the development of communities”.

Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, people of African descent throughout the world are among
the poorest of the poor; they usually face racial discrimination in their access to fundamental rights including quality and high education as well as employment. Ms. Alicia Garza speaking on behalf of her organization Black Lives Matter, a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life, stated that “it is a daily struggle to live while black let alone succeed while

Ms. Gay McDougall, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination explained that the poorest communities are often stereotyped as those of African descent who are prone to violence. Because of this she stressed that “the police feel empowered by society at large to control these communities rather than serve them.”

Noting that police often enter minority communities with “the mindset that they have entered some kind of war zone” she called for international “programs that overcome this type of deep rooted institutional discrimination”.

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