CARIBBEAN-Guyana endorses the call for another decade for people of African descent.

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GENEVA, CMC -Guyana Tuesday, supported calls for a second International Decade for People of African Descent.

In August 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution establishing the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent as “a consultative mechanism for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders” and “as a platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent.”

The Permanent Forum also operates as an advisory body to the UN Human Rights Council, in line with the program of activities for implementing the International Decade for People of African Descent and in coordination with existing UN mechanisms promoting action to combat racism against people of African descent.

In December 2013, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 the International Decade for the People of African Descent. There have been general calls for an extension to this period.

Addressing the Third Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent here, Guyana’s Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, pledged her country’s support for a second International Decade for People of African Descent.

“Guyana looks forward to contributing to the efforts toward improving the conditions of people of African descent both by supporting the work of this Forum and by continuing to craft and implement programs that will redound to the benefit of Guyanese of African Descent,” Walrond said.

She told the delegates that Guyana, as a multicultural and multi-ethnic society, ”is mindful of and keen to ensure that our population, in its entirety, enjoys the best possible quality of life our country can afford.”

She said the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM, has been at the forefront of demanding reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans, a position Guyana remains fully committed to.

She said that a National Reparations Committee has already been established within the framework of a 10-point plan agreed upon by the CARICOM.

During her address, Walrond, on behalf of CARICOM, congratulated the St. Lucian-born diplomat Dr. June Soomer on her assumption of the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent.

Waldron described Dr. Soomer as “a distinguished daughter and citizen of the Caribbean Community.”

In his address to the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the forum brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, human rights defenders, and more at a critical moment for equality and racial justice.

“We celebrate the invaluable achievements and contributions of people of African descent across the range of human endeavor, from political and civil rights struggles around the world to science, technology, industry, literature, music and all the arts, and more.”

But he said, “At the same time, racial discrimination and inequality continue, based on centuries of enslavement and colonialism.”

He said that by establishing this permanent frum, the international community demonstrated its commitment to addressing these injustices.

“Now we must build on that momentum to drive meaningful change by ensuring that people of African descent enjoy the full and equal realization of their human rights; By stepping up efforts to eliminate racism and discrimination – including through reparations; And by taking steps towards the full inclusion of people of African descent in society as equal citizens.

“Together, let’s use this Permanent Forum to continue building a future of human rights, dignity, equality, and justice for all people of African descent,” Guterres said.

The four-day meeting, attended by at least 700 participants, is being held under the theme: “The Second International Decade for People of African Descent: Addressing Systemic Racism, Reparatory Justice and Sustainable Development.”

The delegates noted that with the first International Decade ending in 2024, the Permanent Forum, as a monitoring and reviewing body for the effective implementation of the program of activities for the International Decade, is calling for this initiative to be renewed for a second ten-year period.

The forum will discuss topics such as reparations, sustainable development, economic justice, education, and culture and recognition.

On the last day of the session, the members of the Permanent Forum will present their preliminary conclusions and recommendations based on the discussions.

The report of the third session of the Permanent Forum will be presented to the 57th session of the UN Human Rights Council and the 79th session of the UN General Assembly at the end of this year.

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