A collage of Rocky Dawuni and Tendayi Achiume

People of African Descent

Human Rights
NOT Racism

UN Action

Conferences - a platform for voicing concerns and generating movements

The impact of the 2001 World Conference against Racism on people of African descent, particularly in the Latin American and Caribbean region, was substantial.

The World Conference created a momentum that helped people of African descent voice their concerns and rally support.

Furthermore, it generated a movement advocating for the promotion and protection of their human rights that has helped strengthen grassroots campaigns around the world.

Intergovernmental cooperation

On an inter-governmental level, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, the Independent Expert on minority issues and the Committee on the Elimination of racial discrimination have consistently taken up Afro-descendant issues.


The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 68/237 and to be observed from 2015 to 2024, provides a solid framework for the United Nations, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of the programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice and development.

Spotlight: Master Class Series

UNESCO - Master Class Series against Racism and Discriminations

A global "training for trainers" initiative seeking to empower students to become youth champions in their own schools and communities and spread awareness on how to deconstruct the mechanisms underlying racism and discriminations.

Using a human rights-based approach, the classes serve as dialogue spaces and peer learning forums among young participants, experts, resource persons, and invited personalities to openly discuss taboos that corrode the social and moral fiber in societies.

logo with illustration of various people ©UNESCO

National empowerment policies

At the national level, many countries have amended their constitutions to include clearer references to their multicultural characters. Some States have created national institutions to promote racial equality. In some countries, legislation has been adopted, which includes affirmative action policies for education, targeted health programmes and other initiatives of interest to people of African descent.

Sustainable Development Goals

icon for SDGs In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States.

This table shows how anti-discrimination helps to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Where are we?

Although these processes have resulted in more visibility for people of African descent and to some extent have increased their empowerment, there are still problems in ensuring they are not excluded from fully exercising their human rights.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed glaring inequalities in society, by disproportionately affecting those whose rights have been denied by systemic racial discrimination and the legacy of racism [UN News article: No ‘fix’ to police violence, without tackling scourge in society, says rights chief].

Black Lives Matter

The worldwide protests led by the US-based Black Lives Matter movement prompted the UN Human Rights Council to adopt resolution 43/1, mandating Member States to look at systemic racism and human rights violations by law enforcement agencies against Africans and people of African descent – and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims.