Aug 31: First International Day for People of African Descent

The United Nations marked the first-ever International Day for People of African Descent on August 31, 2021 to celebrate the enormous contributions of African diaspora in field of human endeavour.

Background

UN General Assembly had adopted the resolution to establish the International Day for people of African Descent in December 2020. Resolution also recalled two similar UN initiatives namely, 2001 “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” that was held in Durban, South Africa as well as the “declaration of International Decade for People of African Descent” which will run till 2024.

Objective of the day

UNGA established this day with the objective of promoting greater recognition and respect for diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent towards the development of societies. The day also seeks to promote respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Why this day is significant?

The day is significant in the light of increasing momentum towards ending racism, twenty years after the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Furthermore, in Latin America, there are about 134 million people of African heritage and they suffer poverty, lack of access to basic services and inequality. In Brazil, overall poverty rate is 11.5 percent while poverty among people of African descent is 25.5 percent.

UN’s work towards ending racism

  1. Slave Route Project– This project is run by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It encourages open and honest conversation related to slavery.
  2. An initiative by UN Population Fund focuses on expanding opportunities for young people of African descent.
  3. UN human rights office launched the “Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice & Equality” in order to tackle systemic racism, ensure accountability, and deliver justice.

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