WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
20 Dec 2022 | Video

Colombia: Peace Agreement – Conclusions of the First Session of the Permanent Forum of Afro-Descendants at the UN

AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

On December 5, Colombian Vice President, Francia Márquez, opened the first session of the Permanent Forum of Afro-descendants in Geneva, Switzerland. Márquez demanded that UN member States move forward in fulfilling historical reparations to Afro-descendant and African populations so that they “recover the dignity that was expropriated from them.”

To transform structural injustices against people of African descent, including colonialism, slavery and their legacies, Márquez called for the cancellation of the foreign debt of nations. The Vice President also highlighted the need to guarantee the autonomy of Afro-descendants and the well-being of the environment, ensuring these populations self-determination in their ancestral territories. Márquez emphasized that one cannot speak of climate justice without taking into account Afro-descendant people and women, because these populations are the most affected by environmental degradation.

In December 2021, the United Nations General Assembly established 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 security and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent”. The Forum advises the Human Rights Council on the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent and coordinates with other UN mechanisms in efforts to combat racism against people of African descent.

From December 5-8, 2022, more than 400 people of African descent activists, academics, experts, representatives of UN member States and partners from around the world discussed issues affecting the security, quality of life and livelihoods of their communities. The agenda of the meeting included issues such as: racial discrimination, inequalities and challenges to sustainable development, restorative justice, equality for all people, and the draft UN Declaration on the Promotion and full Respect for the Human Rights of People of African descent.

WOLA took part in a discussion with some of the people who participated in the Forum about the event and the advances in the agenda of issues related to Afro-descendant communities.

The talk included the participation of: Ofunshi Obá Kosó, Colombia Peace Accord; Dr. Sheila S. Walker, Cultural Anthropologist; Carlos Quesada, Executive Director and Founder of the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights USA; Agripina Hurtado, Anti-Racism International activist of Public Services International PSI and member of the Executive Committee of Global African Worker Institute (GAWI); Igor Correa Caicedo, Global Coalition Against Racism Colombia; John Tovar, Program Manager, Global Black Conferences of African and African Diaspora Studies (CEADA), and Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Director for Colombia and the Andes of WOLA.