First Session, 5-8 December 2022, Geneva, Switzerland
1. The United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) held its
first annual session from 5-8 December 2022 at the Palais de Nations in Geneva. In
addition to the general debate, five thematic discussions were held, including: the fight
against systemic racism—future policymaking for people of African descent; the
inclusion of people of African descent in the Sustainable Development Agenda—the
cases for climate justice and reparatory justice; connecting the past and future—
United Nations Declaration on the promotion and full respect of the human rights of
people of African descent; connecting the past and future— equality for all people of
African descent; and the future work of the Permanent Forum—feedback from
participants. The event was widely welcomed, with the attendance of more than 700
participants from across the world.
2. The Permanent Forum expresses its appreciation to the Member States, UN agencies
and anti-racism mechanisms and Experts—including, from the Committee for the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Group of Independent Eminent
Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action,
the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the Intergovernmental
Working Group on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of
Action, the Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law
Enforcement, and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance—who participated and
contributed to the conversations. The Permanent Forum is especially grateful for the
participation and contributions of the many civil society representatives from around
3. The following conclusions and recommendations are preliminary in nature. Together
with the proceedings of the second session, they will form the basis of the first report
of the Permanent Forum to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly in fall
4. The Permanent Forum emphasizes the importance of establishing an inclusive and
participatory process in amplifying the voices of all people of African descent from all
parts of the world, including from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, North America, South
and Central America, the Middle East, the Pacific region, and the Indian Ocean, that
also have been subjected to structural racism and racial discrimination as reflected in
social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. There is a need for the Permanent
Forum to work with a broad and geographically inclusive civil society from all regions
and work towards the inclusion of civil society representatives on all panels at the
annual sessions, with a view to drawing more contributions from them. Bearing in
mind the diversity of people of African descent—including cultural and ethnic; gender,
transgender, people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender
expression and sex characteristics; age; disability; geographic origin; migratory status;
social and economic conditions; religious and spiritual, the full inclusion and
intersections of such and other grounds should be reflected in the human rights work
of the United Nations anti-racism mechanisms, including the Permanent Forum, to
ensure full and equal inclusion of all people of African descent.
5. The Permanent Forum is concerned that to undertake the full scope of its mandate, it
is crucial that it is fully supported with adequate resources. This includes adequate
funding for broad, inclusive, and geographically equitable civil society participation in
the annual sessions.
6. The Permanent Forum also confirms the significance of the full and effective
implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as it relates to
people of African descent, in addressing the legacies of colonialism, Transatlantic trade
and trafficking in enslaved Africans, enslavement, and in combatting systemic and
structural racism, white supremacist ideology, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
related intolerance faced by people of African descent. Encouraging further inquiry
into the history, legacy, and structural continuity of the Indian Ocean slave trade to
inform the United Nations’ commitment to promoting global education and
understanding of the root causes and consequences of enslavement and human
trafficking, as well as the ongoing efforts towards promoting human rights, social and
7. The Permanent Forum affirms the urgent need for Member States to collect
disaggregated data on people of African descent based on race, sex, gender, age,
geographic (rural/urban) location, employment, economic status; to identify, monitor,
and track disparities and hold themselves accountable for the human rights situation
of people of African descent as well as for measurable Sustainable Development Goals,
racial justice indicators and policy targets, and reviewing the effectiveness and impacts
of policies and laws.
8. The Permanent Forum provides a platform for consultations on the need to recognize
and effectively address systemic and structural racism against people of African
descent. The Permanent Forum affirms that systemic1 and structural racism may have a compounded impact on the enjoyment of human rights and well-being of people of African descent. It notes that when societies are racially stratified by being socially,
culturally, politically, economically, psychologically, institutionally, and in other ways
structured, organized, or patterned such that people of African descent, on average do
not have equal access to or enjoyment of human rights—this needs to be holistically
recognized and addressed. It is inadequate to treat systemic and structural racism
against people of African descent solely as individual acts, events, policies, and/or laws.
9. In identifying and analysing best practices, challenges, opportunities, and initiatives to address, as appropriate, the issues highlighted in the provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action relevant to people of African descent, the
Permanent Forum affirms that from a human rights perspective, reparatory justice is
primarily about rectifying and transforming systemic and structural injustices that
were established by past injustices and crimes against humanity—and in their place establish social and global justice in the sense of full and equal enjoyment of human dignity, rights, and non-discrimination.2 Halting and reversing the lasting consequences of enslavement, colonialism, genocide and apartheid was seen as key to addressing systemic and structural racism against people of African descent internationally as well as domestically. Participants expressed their grave concerns
about the situation of countries such as Haiti that had been subjected to violence, penalized, and forced to pay reparations for its pioneering abolition of enslavement
and colonialism and that this history was a primary cause of its current social and economic crisis.
10. In achieving sustainable development and effectively addressing structural inequities
within and among countries—including the inequitable impact of climate change and
environmental degradation on people of African descent—it is critical that climate
justice be included in the work and recommendations of the Permanent Forum.
Moreover, the participation of the Permanent Forum and People of African descent in
the Climate Change agenda and all the debates organized in the context of the
Conference of the Parties (COP) is essential. The Permanent Forum conceptualizes
climate justice similarly to how it conceptualizesreparatory justice and holds that from
a human rights perspective, climate justice is primarily a matter of rectifying structural
injustices, including in the global economy.3 The Permanent Forum also notes the importance of addressing the concerns of the growing amount of African and African descendent climate refugees, who are displaced in the context of disasters and climate change.
11. Women of African descent are a priority for the Permanent Forum, as well as the
recognition of their rights and leadership. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development does not mention people of African descent, and it lumps women of
African descent into a broader discussion of women’s rights, assuming that women are
homogenous. The Permanent Forum looks forward to strong and specific references
to the rights of women of African descent in the draft United Nations declaration on
the promotion and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent.
Specific reference should be made to their right to maternal and sexual reproductive
health; their right to a life free from violence, stigma, stereotypes, and gender
entrapment; their right to access land and productive resources, quality education at
all levels, and decent employment; and their right to political participation and
12. The Permanent Forum welcomes more inclusive spaces for People of African descent,
with pertinence to reducing societal stigma and discrimination. More might be done
to realize human rights for all people of African descent in terms of addressing
intersectionality and additional contexts affecting vulnerable groups. Reiterating,
therefore, that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have
the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their
societies, and that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally
condemnable, socially unjust as well as dangerous―and must be rejected, together
with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.
13. The Permanent Forum attaches great importance to the drafting of a UN declaration
on the promotion, protection, and full respect of the human rights of people of African
descent. It affirms that the Declaration will be a vital tool to guarantee dignity,
inclusion, equity, and reparatory justice for Africans and people of African descent. It
recognizes the ongoing process at the Intergovernmental Working Group on the
effective Implementation of the DDPA, to which the Permanent Forum submitted its
preliminary observations. The Permanent Forum is fully committed to conducting
broad-based and comprehensive civil society consultations across the different regions
of the world, in order to undertake the elaboration of a United Nations declaration on
the promotion, protection, and full respect of the human rights of people of African
14. The Permanent Forum affirms the need to include both collective and individual rights
to effectively address systemic and structural racism against people of African descent;
the need in some social contexts to protect the collective, cultural, religious, territorial,
environmental, and other rights of people of African descent; as well as the need for
inclusion and empowerment of people of African descent in developing, implementing
and monitoring policy-making which concerns them.
15. The Permanent Forum recognises the inter-governmental frameworks and
instruments that promote the full inclusion and prosperity of people of African
descent. These include, and are not limited to, the African Union’s Constitutive Act and
Agenda 2063 and its recognition of the African diaspora.
16. Freedom of migration is a key topic for people of African descent. The lack of an
equitable, non-discriminate, safe, orderly, and regular freedom of migration for people
of African descent, and their right to seek refuge was reflected in the discussions and
is a concern of the Permanent Forum. This issue requires further discussion and greater
attention from the Permanent Forum. A holistic and transnational approach is needed
to resolve the human rights crises related to migration of people of African descent.
17. The Permanent Forum calls for the responsible and inclusive development of emerging
technologies, including artificial intelligence, to avoid perpetuating discrimination and
exclusion. In particular, the Forum emphasizes the need to prevent algorithmic bias
and racial profiling against people of African descent. States must take appropriate
measures to ensure that the development and use of emerging technologies are
consistent with human rights and do not harm vulnerable communities.
18. The Permanent Forum affirms calls for an extension of the International Decade for
People of African Descent 2015-2024 to a second Decade 2025-2034.
RESOURCES AND ACCESSIBILITY
19. The Permanent Forum requests additional support from Member States required to
implement its broad mandate. This includes, strengthening of the Secretariat; greater
support for civil society participation in the annual sessions; support for global and
regional consultations to organize participatory and inclusive discussions with civil
society to facilitate their contribution to a draft United Nations declaration on the
promotion and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent; for the
Permanent Forum to meet more than once a year in intersessional in-person meetings;
and to implement the broad scope of its mandate.
20. To ensure that the Permanent Forum is an open and inclusive platform, accessibility
should be expanded to all partners and stakeholder, in particular vulnerable groups,
including, the elders, persons with disability, youth, LGBTQI+, et al. For greater access
to the Permanent Forum, hybrid forms of the sessions should be further developed,
interpretation service be provided to Portuguese speaking populations, and an
application for digital interaction be created.
21. The Permanent Forum recognises the existing efforts for reparatory justice within the
context of the DDPA, including but not limited to those initiated and being undertaken
by CARICOM. It will seek to cooperate with such efforts as necessary and appropriate
to achieving reparatory justice for people of African descent.
22. The human rights, legal and institutional grounds for pursuing reparatory justice at the
UN, including the International Court of Justice, should be examined to clarify the
possibilities of pursuing reparatory justice at the UN and to identify possible gaps. This
includes the following measures:
a. The General Assembly should consider commissioning an independent
international study, which could be carried out in collaboration with the
Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, relevant Special
Procedures, and an international team of scholars and experts to clarify and
consolidate international law on reparatory justice for people of African
b. UN organs and specialized bodies and agencies are requested to seek the
assistance of the International Law Commission (ILC) to carry out a
comprehensive study on the question of reparations for people of African
descent. The ILC has already demonstrated interest in the question. As this
topic is critical for so many countries and people, the Permanent Forum calls
on all States to support the initiation of such an ILC study and urge that they
speak in favour of this in the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly. The
Permanent Forum also calls on the ILC to move the reparations study into its
current programme of work and to appoint an ILC special rapporteur with the
view to assisting the UN Member States to codify and progressively develop
international reparatory justice law.
c. The Human Rights Council should consider organizing a panel discussion to
address the grave human rights situation in Haiti through reparatory justice for
a sustainable address of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti and its historical
legacies in a manner that centres the will, well-being and future of the Haitian
people. This as a possible step towards the establishment of a Human Rights
Council Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the subject.
d. The General Assembly and other relevant United Nations organs and
specialized agencies should consider requesting an advisory opinion from the
International Court of Justice on the legal question of reparatory justice for
histories and legacies of colonialism and enslavement.
To further promote reparatory justice, the establishment of the following measures
within the UN should be considered:
a. A fund for the development of people of African descent to address the lasting
consequences of enslavement, colonialism, apartheid, and genocide.
b. A UN Reparatory Justice Commission—which includes Caribbean and African
States—to facilitate concrete action on reparatory justice, sustainable
development, and equity within and among countries.
c. A UN Global Summit on Reparatory Justice.
The Permanent Forum requests that the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable
Development includes in its thematic discussions reparatory justice and climate
The Permanent Forum urges the United Nations Intergovernmental Negotiating
Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to ensure sufficient inclusion of NGOs in
relation to people of African descent in the UNFCCC negotiations process.
SYSTEMIC & STRUCTURAL RACISM
The Permanent Forum recommends the development of official UN Guidelines and a
Handbook for a comprehensive human rights-based and data-driven approach to
recognising and addressing systemic and structural racism against people of African
descent. The Guidelines are to be developed in close collaboration with other antiracism mechanisms.
The Permanent Forum urges UN agencies, funds, and programmes to collaborate
closely with the Permanent Forum to expedite the development of disaggregated data
collection practices, analyses, and evidence-based projects on people of African
descent and their intersectionalities.
The Permanent Forum urges Member States to attach greater importance to the
drafting of the UN Declaration on the promotion, protection, and full respect of the
human rights of people of African descent and to include in it the right of people of
African descent to comprehensive recognition, monitoring, and effective address of
systemic and structural racism. It also urges Member States to include both collective
and individual rights.
The Permanent Forum encourages the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
and other relevant intergovernmental international and regional mechanisms to
address the human rights of women and girls of African descent as a substantive
element of their work.
THE INTERNATIONAL DECADE
The General Assembly should consider establishing a Second UN International Decade
for People of African Descent 2025-2034.
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