Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks on International Year for People of African Descent

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 10 December 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you as we launch the International Year for People of African Descent, proclaimed recently by the General Assembly.

The Year seeks to strengthen political commitment to eradicating discrimination against people of African descent.

It also aims to promote greater awareness of and respect for the diverse heritage and culture of people of African descent.

I welcome this effort to pay tribute to the vast contributions made by people of African descent to the advancement of the political, economic, social and cultural development of all of our societies.

At the same time, we must remember that people of African descent are among those most affected by racism.

Too often, they face denial of basic rights such as access to quality health services and education.

Such fundamental wrongs have a long and terrible history.

The international community has affirmed that the transatlantic Slave trade was an appalling tragedy not only because of its barbarism but also because of its magnitude, organized nature and negation of the essential humanity of the victims.

Even today, Africans and people of African descent continue to suffer the consequences of these acts.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is clear. It calls upon governments and others to ensure the full integration of people of African descent into social, economic and political life, and to facilitate their full participation at all levels of decision-making.

The international community cannot accept that whole communities are marginalized because of the colour of their skin. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. If we are to make those words real, then we must eradicate racism once and for all.

The success of the International Year requires concerted efforts across the United Nations system and at the regional and national levels, with the widest possible engagement and participation.

Success also requires us to safeguard the rights and work of human rights defenders, who fight to end all forms of discrimination and to whom today''s observance of Human Rights Day is devoted.

Let us all intensify our efforts to ensure that all people of African descent can fully enjoy all their rights.

Thank you for your commitment to this cause. Thank you very much.