On 10 December, the United Nations General Assembly launched the International Decade for People of African Descent at an event in New York. The Decade, which will run from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2024 has been conceived as an opportunity to promote respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for people of African descent, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
‘Over the next ten years people everywhere are encouraged to take part in global conversation on the realities faced by people of African descent. The Decade will allow us to explore the challenge faced by people of African descent due to the pervasive racism and racial discrimination engrained in our societies. The theme of the International Decade, 'recognition, justice and development' provides an excellent platform for that global conversation to take place”, said UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa in his opening remarks.
Speaking through a video message, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, declared that: “This Decade holds a message of hope, tolerance, human rights and dignity. Across the world we see increasing recognition of the immeasurable contribution of women and men of African descent to shaping societies today. The International Decade for People of African Descent is designed to transform this recognition into action.”
During the launch event, held on Human Rights Day, several participants, highlighted the important role of UNESCO in this regard through its work on the General History of Africa and the Slave Route projects, as well as educational programmes such as ‘Teaching Respect for All’, developed by UNESCO in collaboration with the Governments of Brazil and the United States of America.
The International Decade for People of African Descent, coordinated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is an opportunity for a wide range of actors including the United Nations, Governments, civil society and individuals to create synergy in efforts to combat racism and contribute to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.