Africa: General Assembly Creates New Permanent Forum of People of African Descent


Capping years of deliberations, the UN General Assembly on Monday established a new platform to improve the lives of Afro-descendants, who have for centuries suffered the ills of racism, racial discrimination and the legacy of enslavement around the globe.

The 193-member body unanimously adopted a resolution establishing the United Nations Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, a 10-member advisory body that will work closely with the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

The new Forum will serve as a consultation mechanism for people of African descent and other stakeholders, and contribute to the elaboration of a UN declaration – a “first step towards a legally binding instrument” on the promotion and full respect of the rights of people of African descent.

‘Compounding inequalities’

Negotiations on the modalities of the Permanent Forum have been under way since November 2014, when the General Assembly officially launched the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

Through the resolution adopted on Monday – which articulates the new body’s mandate for the first time – the Assembly expressed alarm at the spread of racist extremist movements around the globe, and deplored the “ongoing and resurgent scourges” of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The move comes just days after the Human Rights Council established a panel of experts to investigate systemic racism in policing against people of African descent, and on the heels of a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

In that report and various public statements, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has pointed to the “compounding inequalities” and “stark socioeconomic and political marginalization” faced by Africans and people of African descent in many countries.