In December 2014, the UN General Assembly, in its Resolution 68/237, proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).
This Decade, for which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was designated as the lead agency, aims to strengthen actions and measures to ensure the full realization of the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of people of African descent, and their full and equal participation in society.
Under the theme "Recognition, Justice and Development”, the Decade provides an operational framework to encourage States to eradicate social injustices inherited from history and to fight against racism, prejudice and racial discrimination to which people of African descent are still subjected.
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