About the decade

Last update: July 6, 2022

Why a Decade?

Across the globe, people of African descent continue to suffer inequality and disadvantage because of the legacy of slavery and colonialism.

The International Decade for People of African Descent, established by UN Member States, testifies to their will to grant due consideration to women, men and children of African descent. As a duty of justice, its main objective is to reinforce the actions and measures securing the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of people of African Descent, and their full and equal participation in society.

This Decade is the operational framework that States have adopted to eradicate social injustices inherited from history and to fight against racial prejudices and discrimination that people of African descent still face today. It also contributes to a greater knowledge, appreciation and respect for people of African descent and their contribution to the economic, social, intellectual, cultural and ethical development of humanity.

People of African descent comprise a heterogeneous group with extremely diverse histories, experiences and identities. Although their life conditions and the difficulties they face differ depending of context, these individuals encounter common problems which must be resolved.

Studies, reports and international conferences have observed that large numbers of people of African descent are amongst the groups of poorer and most marginalized people all over the world. This is a direct consequence of the slave trade and the enslavement of African and African descendant women, men and children for over four centuries, and the colonization period. The dehumanization of these people was based on occidental intellectual currents of thought of that period which justified the practice of slavery through biased and false theories on the notion of race. This school of thought was at the core of the development of the anti-black ideology legally enshrined in the Code Noir (1685). Racism inherited from the infamous practices of slavery and colonialism persists today in the structural, interpersonal and institutional discriminations. The discriminations faced by people of African descent prolong cycles of inequalities and poverty, hindering their development.

The relative lack of social recognition and appreciation of their histories, heritage and cultures, and the negative representations of people of African descent in education curricula, national cultures and the media, perpetuate the prejudices initiated and continued for centuries during the period of slavery and colonial era.

Its objectives

The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by UN General Assembly resolution 68/237 and to be observed from 2015 to 2024, provides a solid framework for the United Nations, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for people of African descent in the spirit of recognition, justice and development.

The Decade is an operational platform conducive

  • to encourage States to implement appropriate policies to reduce injustices, racism and discrimination against people of African descent, and
  • to promote cultural diversity by valuing in particular the common cultural legacies that emerged from the interactions provoked by the history of slavery.

Under the theme of « People of African Descent: recognition, justice and development », the Decade also symbolizes the international community’s determination to reveal the history, the memory and the contemporary implications of slavery across the globe. It offers an occasion to reflect upon the dehumanization and deportation of millions of human beings,  but also upon resistance which enabled to redefine the very notions of humanity, dignity, citizenship, equity and freedom.

The main objectives of the International Decade are as follows:

Promote respect, protection and fulfilment

of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Promote a greater knowledge of and respect

for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies.

Adopt and strengthen national, regional and international legal frameworks

according to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to ensure their full and effective implementation.

How to make it happen?

In 2014, the UN General Assembly has adopted a Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent. The various stakeholders are invited to take specific action to contribute to the objectives of the International Decade for People of African Descent at various levels:

  • At the national level, States should take concrete and practical steps through the adoption and effective implementation of national and international legal frameworks, policies and programmes to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent, taking into account the particular situation of women, girls and young men.
  • At the regional and international level, the international community, international and regional organizations are called

     

    • to raise awareness about and disseminate the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
    • assist States in the full and effective implementation of their commitments under the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action;
    • collect statistical data;
    • incorporate human rights into development programmes; and
    • honour and preserve historical memory of people of African descent.
  • At the local level, local authorities and civil society are invited to implement initiatives and activities to raise awareness and educate on the history of people of African descent and to promote their contribution to contemporary societies.

See full text of the Programme of Activities (PDF)