The United Nations Establishes Permanent Committee to Tackle Challenges of Racism

On Monday, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution creating a Permanent Forum of People of African Descent to provide professional assistance on tackling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance.

The 193-member world body’s resolution also calls for the forum to act as a “platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of persons of African descent” as well as their full inclusion in the societies in which they live.

The forum’s creation coincides with the United Nations General Assembly’s declaration of the International Decade for People of African Descent, which began on January 1, 2015, and will finish on December 31, 2024. Themes of acknowledgment, fairness, and development are central to the project.

The establishment of the new group coincides with the 20th anniversary of the contentious UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001, which was dominated by disputes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery. During the meeting, the US and Israel stormed out over a draught resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and compared Zionism to bigotry.

The final papers eliminated that phrase, instead of condemning and calling for the abolition of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance.

The papers also expressed great sadness for the human misery caused by slavery and stated that slavery and the slave trade are and always should have been crimes against humanity.

Despite attempts to combat racism, occurrences, and various forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance remain pervasive and should be condemned, according to a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly on Monday.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies,” the assembly stated. It added that “Any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races”.

The global struggle against racism was declared a “priority for the international community” by the assembly. A number of mandates were handed to the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent. They include giving professional advice and recommendations on eliminating racism to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the General Assembly’s key committees, and UN agencies, as well as ensuring “full political, economic, and social inclusion of people of African descent”.

The forum will be composed of ten members, five of whom will be elected by the General Assembly from all regions and five of whom will be appointed by the Human Rights Council after consultations with regional groups and organizations of persons of African heritage, according to the resolution.

The first meeting of the forum is scheduled for 2022. It also calls for annual reporting on the forum’s operations to the assembly and the council, as well as a four-session evaluation of the forum’s functioning by the General Assembly, based on a Human Rights Council evaluation.

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