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Latin America & Caribbean

Calling for development, reparations, right to ancestral territories for people of African descent

ISHR and Articulación Latinoaméricana por el Decenio Afrodescendientes (ALDA) joined global anti-racism movements to demand recognition, justice and development for people of African descent.

During the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, the Council marked the Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, commemorated  (21 March) in the annual panel under Item 9 . The opening of the panel paid tribute to the victims of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, a day marked by police violence and the killing of 69 people who were peacefully protesting against apartheid laws.

The session was an opportunity for human rights organisations, States and UN representatives to pay tribute to the resistance of Africans and people of African descent and their activism, which brings hope and encouragement to all people who suffer racial and ethnic discrimination.

The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, encouraged States to collect disaggregated data related to race or ethnic group and use it to combat racial discrimination. Al-Nashif emphasised that ”we must listen, respect and secure the perspectives of all those impacted by intersecting forms of discrimination, including notably women”’.

Barbara G. Reynolds, Chair of the Expert Working Group on People of African Descent (WGPAD), drew attention to the fact that people of African descent are further behind because of under-representation, institutionalised racism, Afrophobia and anti-Black discrimination. The Working Group called on Member States to:

  1. Review and assess their own national progress made during the Decade, taking note of the constraints and enablers.
  2. Declare a new Decade for people of African descent, one that they will promulgate and support politically, financially, and technically, respecting the rights of activists and advocates for people of African descent.
  3. Accelerate the completion and adoption of the Declaration on People of African descent, recognising therein the collective nature of measures needed given the legacy of enslavement, colonialism, segregation, apartheid, and other egregious violations of rights, and including therein the right to development and the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
  4. Take all necessary measures to secure reparatory justice for people of African descent. To contribute to this process, I wish to share that the Working Group will hold its 35th session, on Reparatory Justice, November 11 – 15, 2024 in Jamaica on the site of a former plantation where enslaved Africans were forced to shed their blood, sweat and tears.”

The representatives of States including Jamaica on behalf of CARICOM Group of Countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago), Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Malawi and South Africa asserted the importance of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) as a tool that has been mobilising the world to promote equality and justice for all, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

During the session, ISHR and ALDA presented a joint statement, in which ALDA’s Jhon Anton Sanchez emphasised the importance of collective rights and the inclusive and effective participation of people of African descent in the drafting of the new Declaration on the Promotion, Protection and Full Respect of the Human Rights of People of African Descent. 

Watch the video and find the written statement below.

Thank you, President.  This is a joint statement.

We wish to take the voice of the Afro-descendant social organisations of Latin America.

We are very pleased with the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to promote a draft ‘Declaration on the Promotion, Protection and Full Respect for the Human Rights of People of African Descent’. 

We demand rights not as individual subjects, but as collective subjects of rights, as an ethnic and cultural collectivity with political status, as Marcus Garvey predicted in 1920. The process of drafting the new declaration must include the effective and inclusive participation of Afro-descendant organisations and defenders, and take into account:

  • The jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;
  • The application of ILO Convention 169 for Afro-descendant peoples 
  • And General Recommendation 34 of the [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)] which enunciates the collective rights of Afro-descendant peoples and communities.

The new declaration must recognise:

  •  Our communal political agency, and the collective rights to cultural identity, our language, religiosity, ancestral knowledge;
  • The right to ancestral territories and collective ownership of the lands on which our communities are settled, and where autonomous governance is exercised;
  • The right to development with an ethnic perspective, to the prior consultation and our own decolonised education;
  • The right to reparations for enslavement.
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