H.E. AMMO AZIZA BAROUD
AMBASSADOR/ PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHAD TO THE UNITED NATIONS
ON BEHALF OF THE AFRICAN GROUP
AT THE PLENARY MEETING TO COMMEMORATE THE
“INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION”
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
FRIDAY: MARCH 19, 2021
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Ladies and Gentlemen
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the African Group. At the outset, allow me, to commend you Mr. President for convening this commemorative plenary meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
2. It is recalled that more than five years have passed since the international community agreed to implement the International Decade for People of African Descent. It is unfortunate that, contemporary racially discriminatory effects of structures of inequality and subordination resulting from failures to redress racism, slavery, apartheid and colonialism continue to persist.
3. We are aware of the racial prejudices and discrimination that People of African Descent still face today. We take note of the way the international community is addressing these acts. We applaud progress made at the national, regional and international levels in conformity with the obligations and commitments of the Durban Declaration.
4. We are pleased with those Governments that have adopted, since the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action landmark, progressive legislative and administrative measures to effectively combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. More importantly, we thank all those that appreciate and respect knowledge and the contribution of People of African Descent in their economies and in the global humanity.
5. The 2030 Agenda envisages a world of universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination; and of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity, which sets the principles for pursuing these goals.
6. We are of the view that Governments should reinforce protection against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance by ensuring that all persons have access to effective and adequate remedies and enjoy the right to seek from competent national tribunals and other national institutions just and adequate reparation and satisfaction for any damage as a result of such discrimination. We believe that reparations for slavery and colonialism include not only justice and accountability for historical wrongs, but also the eradication of the scars of racial inequality, subordination and discrimination that were built under slavery, apartheid and colonialism.
7. We believe that empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality is the way to go. We affirm that the right to quality education to all citizens contributes to more inclusive societies, equity, including harmonious relations among nations and individuals, and can foster mutual understanding and respect to cultural diversity and human rights and fundamental freedoms to all. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action further supports the promotion of full and accurate inclusion of the history and contribution of People of African Descent in the education curriculum.
8. We recognize that in many countries, their traditional livelihoods are under threat. They are forced out of their ancestral lands or forced to migrate to urban areas. They no longer have access to subsistence farming, fishing or other traditional occupations. Threats to traditional livelihoods include large-scale infrastructure and development projects, resource extraction and tourism, which often lead to the displacement of communities of African Descents.
9. They continue to face significant inequality in access to adequate employment. They often have higher unemployment rates than national averages and are over-represented in low-paid employment. The discriminatory attitudes of some employers prevent them from accessing certain jobs, fair working conditions and equal pay for equal work. And, in certain circumstances, they are more likely to be under-employed in positions that do not reflect their skills and education. In the same vein, unequal access to education and training has resulted in many people of African descent being forced to work in low-paid, manual and service work.
10. We take note of the Secretary-General’s report that affirms that in many countries, women and girls of African descent work in informal domestic work and are at risk of discrimination, exploitation, violence or abuse. Migrants of African descent are frequently forced to take informal work, which results in low wages and insecurity.
11. We would like to remind the international community of its commitment in 2013, when the General Assembly, proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent, to be implemented from 2015 to 2024, under the themes: recognition, justice, and development. The African Group believes that this Decade is a timely and unique opportunity to underline the significant contributions made by the people of African Descent in their societies and to propose concrete measures to promote equality and to combat discrimination of any kind.
12. The Group is concerned that their children continue to face racism or discrimination in schools. Curricula are designed at times to include negative stereotypes and images of people of African descent and do not sufficiently include their histories, cultures and contributions to development. They are discriminated against for their use of cultural or traditional hairstyles or dress code. They also experience disproportionate use of disciplinary action and are more likely to be placed in low-achieving classes or groups. All of these factors constitute violations of their fundamental right to education.
13. As we are implementing Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and other internationally agreed development goals, we have to commit to the world of universal respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination on any basis.
14. The Group is of the view that this Decade is a historic opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. We need to strengthen our actions to dismantle the many obstacles encountered by millions of people, in every region of the world. We have to reinforce laws that prohibit racial discrimination, and help ensure that they are implemented. We should promote greater knowledge about the cultural heritage of people of African descent, and the many fundamental contributions that they have made to the advancement of humanity.
15. It is important also to mention that People of African descent can be better empowered in the fields of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation through programmes targeted to encourage the formalization and growth of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises. Capacity-building in languages and business strategies could help to make traditional livelihoods become more competitive and market oriented. Support should include equal access to financial services, which people of African descent often struggle to secure because of discrimination.
16. The programme of activities for the Decade invites States to eradicate poverty and exclusion, and to enable full and equal participation by people of African descent in all their life cycles. We request States to take specific action to end discrimination against women and girls of African descent. They may also adopt special measures, such as affirmative action in education and employment, to overcome persistent inequalities.
17. We firmly believe that in ending discrimination and structural racism in the UN, the clearest metric lies in the staffing of all entities and processes with regard to numbers and seniority. We call upon the Secretary-General, and all levels of leadership, to adopt a transparent and universally acceptable anti-racist metric into their human resource practices.
18. We are also of the view that Committees of Experts and the analysis of matters to do with Africa should have African experts and institutions at their core. This will address the skewed hierarchy of knowledge production that consigns the Global South to the role of native informants for analysts, even when dealing with challenges that are predominantly located in the Global South, and particularly in Africa.
19. Also of concern is that racism, xenophobia and discrimination are being consciously and unconsciously built into Artificial Intelligence, and corporate-, and state-developed algorithms. We call for higher prioritization by all relevant UN forums to develop flexible and practical standards for the development of Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms in line with racial and gender equality, and respect for intellectual, cultural and religious diversity.
20. In concluding, we reaffirm our commitment to the full and effective implementation of Durban Declaration and the International Decade of People of African Descent in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. We reiterate that a just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world is achievable for all, if the needs of those in vulnerable situations are met, justice to victims of human rights violations resulting from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in the light of their vulnerabilities, are accorded access to justice, effective and appropriate protection, remedies and adequate reparation and satisfaction for any damage as a result of such discrimination.
I thank you.