FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DECEMBER 16th, 2022
NEW YORK, NY - From December 5- 8, 2022, AfroResistance attended the first session of the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent, which was held at the United Nations Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Permanent Forum serves as "a consultative mechanism for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders as a platform to improve the security, quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent, as well as an advisory body to the Human Rights Council, in line with the program of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for Afro-descendants and in close coordination with the existing mechanisms." (United Nations)
The forum was attended by Afro-descendant human rights activists, member states, United Nations bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and regional organizations, civil society representatives, and other sectors. The results of this historic forum will help the United Nations prepare a declaration focused on improving the safety and quality of life of people of African descent. This declaration will be significant since, per the mandate of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, the statement "will provide, in coordination with existing mechanisms, expert advice and recommendations to the Human Rights Council, the Main Committees of the General Assembly and United Nations bodies, programmes, funds and agencies. "It will also continue to reinforce the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, which was adopted 20 years ago at a historic UN summit against racism and discrimination.
The event began with the participation of Francia Marquez, an environmental and human rights activist, lawyer, and current Colombian Vice President, the first Afro-Colombian to hold that position. The Colombian Vice President supported the forum and highlighted the Colombian government's work and commitment to protecting human rights, particularly the rights of Afro-descendant people, and the fight against all forms and manifestations of racism. She also urged the forum to establish structures and take actions to cancel Afro-descendant countries' foreign debt as a concrete step in the process of reparations.
Vice President Marquez also emphasized the importance of action. She stated that - as a movement, we must shift from denunciation to activities that allow us to effectively transform the lives of Afro-descendant people because remaining at levels of censure limits our ability to change the structural conditions that keep us at a disadvantage in comparison to other peoples.
Most civil society engagements focused on the implications of systemic racism in the lives of black people, mainly how it is based on the constant dehumanization of black lives.
Following the intervention of Vice President Marquez, the central axis of the discussion revolved around the importance of changing the forum's name to "Permanent Forum of Afro-descendant Peoples," a strategic bet in favor of positioning civil society as the protagonists of the forum.
While acknowledging the forum's historical significance, several civil society representatives were cautious in their expectations, reminding both the board of directors and the attendees in general that the United Nations and, thus, the forum operate within the framework of a capitalist system. As such, it serves as an instrument to sustain the said economic system, for which it is necessary to be aware of its implications and limitations in advance.
Other criticisms included a lack of inclusion of the transgender community, people with different physical abilities or disabilities, and young people. Valerie Summer, our Race and Gender Coordinator, was one of three trans women. The physical conditions of the space were unsuitable for people with disabilities, and young people were scarce. We denounced the lack of inclusion and visibility of the issues affecting black trans people, particularly women, from AfroResistance, and we concluded with a call for inclusion and awareness.
The Permanent Forum of People of African Descent will consist of five members appointed by the Human Rights Council and five members proposed by governments. One of the civil society proposals was to include youth on the forum's board of directors, which will be reviewed and approved at the forum's next session in New York City in May 2023. AfroResistance acknowledges the forum's limitations and the context in which it operates, as well as its importance and relevance in the process of reparative justice and the protection of Afro-descendant peoples' human rights. We remain hopeful and committed to actively advocating for the UN Permanent Forum of Afro-descendant Communities to achieve its goals.
For more information about Afroresistance participation at the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, please email us at email@example.com
About AfroResistance: AfroResistance is a Black Latinx women-led organization with the mission to educate and organize for human rights, democracy, and racial justice throughout the Americas. AfroResistance, previously known as the Latin American and Caribbean Community Center (LACCC), a community-based organization to address the diverse political, economic, and cultural needs of the growing Black Latino and Caribbean populations in the United States.