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UN celebrates legacy of African people

Published: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If people of African descent are granted respect, protection and fulfillment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by 2024, the main objectives of the United Nations’ International Decade of People of African Descent will be met.

The Decade of People of African Descent, which was formulated through the UN General Assembly in December, 2013, came into effect on the first day of this month and will conclude on December 31, 2024. The theme is, People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.

T&T’s observance is being promoted by the Emancipation Support Committee of T&T (ESCTT), which held a national launch at Lions Cultural Centre, Fitzblackman Drive, Woodbrook on January 21.

Opposition senator Camille Robinson-Regis (on behalf of opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley), head of the Kendra Prachar Organisation Shri Ravi Ji, regional ambassadors, representatives of the United Nations, local religious organisations, and the ESCTT, welcomed the commitment to end racial discrimination and promote the contribution of African culture in T&T and globally.

According to the ESCTT, “As part of the justification for the programme of action to support the decade, the Intergovernmental Working Group has argued that despite a number of advances at the international level, racism and racial discrimination, both direct and indirect, de facto and de jure, continue to manifest themselves in inequality and disadvantage.”

The initiative is intended to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The declaration, authored in South Africa in 2001 “acknowledged that people of African descent were victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism, and continue to be victims of their consequences”.

At the launch, UN coordination analyst Narissa Seegulam, speaking on behalf of UN resident coordinator Richard Blewitt, said the initiative presented “an unprecedented opportunity to promote and protect the human rights of people of African descent and to underline the contribution made by them to society in the Americas and to promote their full inclusion into society.”

She noted that with people of African descent constituting “some of the poorest and most marginalised groups” in the Americas, the T&T arm of the UN “will disseminate widely the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.”

“We will raise awareness about the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination; we will assist the state in the full and effective implementation of the obligations arising under the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and in ratifying and acceding to the convention, with a view to attaining its universal ratification. 

We will incorporate human rights into development programmes including in the areas of access to and enjoyment of the rights to education, employment, health, housing, land, and labour.”

The UN representative added: “We will support initiatives and projects aimed at honouring and preserving the historical memory of the people of African descent. In striving to attain over the next 10 years what we are setting out to achieve, let us leverage the decade as an important opportunity to engage with the people of African descent on appropriate and effective measures to halt and reverse the lasting consequences of slavery, the slave trade, and the transatlantic slave trade. To this end, we must ensure that all action taken are as a result of the broad participatory process of consultations with NGOs, other stakeholders and civil society at large.”

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