Concrete measures are being taken to improve the human rights situation of people of African descent in a number of countries worldwide. Below are achievements reported by States, human rights bodies, mechanisms and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, regional organizations, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is hoped that these measures will serve as inspiration for other countries to effectively implement national and international legal frameworks, policies and programmes to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent.
- Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Chile, Ecuador, Greece, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Serbia reported that discrimination on the grounds of race has been declared punishable by law.
- Uruguay has adopted a law on affirmative action policies to ensure equal access to higher education and to the public labour market, stipulating a quota of at least 8 per cent for people of African descent.
- The Congress of Deputies of Spain has approved a law on the memory of slavery, with the recognition and support of black communities, African people and people of African descent in Spain.
- Argentina, Colombia, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Turkey enacted laws prohibiting racial profiling and racial discrimination.
- England and Wales, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands have issued guidelines for police specifically prohibiting ethnic or racial profiling.
National action plans and other policies
- Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Serbia and Uruguay have adopted national action plans against discrimination and plans specifically aimed at the promotion of the rights of people of African descent.
- Portugal has adopted measures to promote the integration of migrants, many of whom are reported to be people of African descent, into Portuguese society.
- Kazakhstan has adopted a policy entitled “Doctrine of National Unity” to strengthen mutual respect among different ethnicities in the country.
- Ecuador has launched round-table discussions on the Decade and promoted meetings between the Government and civil society on the social development of Afro-Ecuadorians.
- Peru approved a guidance note on the implementation of public policies benefiting Afro-Peruvians.
- Italy reported that its foreign policy supports investment in African countries.
- The Netherlands reported that its anti-discrimination policy shifted from a specific ethnicity-oriented policy to a problem-oriented policy, encompassing all forms of discrimination.
- In Mexico, the national programme for equality and non-discrimination 2014-2018 includes 13 lines of action for the Afro-descendant population, including to increase the participation of Afro-descendant and indigenous women in the political sphere and in positions of popular representation.
Monitoring bodies and complaint mechanisms
- Greece reported that five special prosecutors have been appointed to investigate racist crimes.
- The Netherlands has established an Internet discrimination hotline for victims of racist and xenophobic crimes.
- Lithuania reported that it monitors the media for racist or xenophobic content.
- Bolivia has created the National Council of Afro-Bolivians, which addresses the needs and concerns of this population group.
- Costa Rica reported that the Office of the Presidential Commissioner for Matters Relating to Persons of African Descent is a permanent institutional platform responsible for coordinating action aimed at people of African descent.
- Greece established a National Board against Racism and Intolerance, which works with the Greek Ombudsman, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations to develop a national anti-racist strategy.
- Portugal launched the national Commission for Equality and Against Racial Discrimination as a platform for providing legal information to address discriminatory treatment.
- In Colombia, the Ombudsman’s Office reported that it provides advice on the registration of legal cases to Afro-Colombians who suffered during the armed conflict. It also works with Afro-Colombians to ensure their effective participation in projects undertaken in Afro-Colombian territories, and to help ensure that those projects respect their human rights.
- The Australian Human Rights Commission appointed a Race Discrimination Commissioner with a mandate to investigate complaints under anti-discrimination legislation, providing a free and impartial mechanism for parties to resolve complaints relating to alleged racial discrimination.
- South Africa and the United Kingdom have put in place commissions or ombudspersons to respond to public complaints about discrimination.
- In the United States of America, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice may investigate and bring suits against agencies that engage in, or exhibit patterns or adopt practices of, racial profiling in violation of the Constitution.
Awareness-raising and education
United Nations System
- Every year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hosts a fellowship for people of African descent, which provides participants with a learning opportunity to deepen their understanding of the United Nations human rights system, with a focus on issues of particular relevance to people of African descent.
- The UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) organizes panel discussions, film screenings and other public events to raise awareness of the Decade: In April 2016, DGC, OHCHR, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the non-governmental organization Black Women’s Blueprint organized a panel discussion on women of African descent. On the occasion of Human Rights Day in December 2016, DGC organized a film night, co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Jamaica, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the African Diaspora International Film Festival, featuring short films by young producers of African descent. And in February 2017, DGC organized a screening of the educational documentary “AfroLatinos” by independent producers.
- UNESCO has developed pedagogical content on the basis of the General History of Africa (including curriculum outlines, teacher’s guides, textbooks, films, radio programmes and illustrated books) for different levels of education with a view to remedying the general ignorance of African history.
- All States members of the African Union have committed themselves to integrating this content into their national curricula. UNESCO reported that it is elaborating an additional volume of the General History of Africa in order to address the new challenges faced by Africa and the African diaspora.
- UNESCO has also worked on the creation of an international coalition of artists for the General History of Africa to carry the messages to youth and the general public
- OHCHR and DGC in 2017 organized two workshops on racial profiling in Brazil, addressed to government bodies and civil society.
- Canada has announced its commitment to the International Decade for People of African Descent.
- Argentina has launched a “national visibility campaign” to increase public awareness of the contributions of Afro-Argentines through the media, in particular through the production and distribution of a documentary entitled Argentina is also Afro.
- Mexico has launched a nationwide “I’m Afro! I acknowledge and it matters” campaign to encourage self-identification among people of African descent.
- Portugal, through its High Commission for Migration, has launched an Internet campaign, “Discover your color!” to promote racial awareness and counter racial discrimination.
- Argentina, Cuba, Lithuania, Mexico and Uruguay have all developed school curricula and revised textbooks to promote knowledge about African history, culture and heritage. This includes information aimed at increasing knowledge about important individuals of African descent and historical events linked to racism and racial discrimination.
- Cuba has created television programmes, including an ongoing collaboration between its National Committee and UNESCO, which aims to increase knowledge of the transatlantic slave trade and the contributions made by Afro-Cubans to the country through the medium of television drama.
- Australia, Cyprus, Guatemala and Nigeria provided human rights awareness-raising training for law enforcement agents, addressing racial profiling.
- Sweden supports non-discriminatory law enforcement through the recruiting and retention of officers from diverse backgrounds.
- In 2015, the Observatory of Citizen Participation and Non-Discrimination of Chile began a training programme for civil servants on participation, non-discrimination and Afro-descendent issues. The Observatory certified the training of public officials and municipalities in all regions of the country, exceeding its target by training a total of 2,181 civil servants from 428 institutions.
- In Lithuania, police officers and prosecutors participated in training on hate crimes organized by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
- Greece trained its judges and public prosecutors, as well as its police, on these issues and developed guidelines for police on how to tackle racist crimes
- In 2015, Lithuania elaborated a draft conceptual framework on global education, seeking, inter alia, to promote greater knowledge and recognition of and respect for the culture, history and heritage of people of African descent.
- In Sweden, the Living History Forum is implementing a major educational project on various forms of racism and intolerance in history and at the present time, including Afrophobia.
- In Portugal, the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Programme assisted 858 participants of African origin, and the Choices programme promoted social inclusion of children and youth from vulnerable socioeconomic contexts, particularly descendants of migrants. The programme, which is aimed at lowering school dropout rates by promoting non-formal education, vocational training, community participation, digital inclusion and empowerment, has reached a total of 6,682 children and young people, the majority from Cabo Verde (3,095), Guinea-Bissau (1,210) and Angola (1,166).
- UNESCO published a guide for the management of memory sites and itineraries related to the history of slavery. This guide helped local communities, authorities and heritage professionals to make an inventory and preserve, promote and manage more effectively the sites of memory related to the slave trade, slavery and the heritage of people of African descent.
- In Argentina, the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, the International Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights, and the National Institute to Combat Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism established a research fellowship competition to promote academic research on the influence of African culture and identity associated with African descent in Latin America and Ibero-America.
- In Mexico, the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination published a book on collective rights and constitutional recognition of the Afro-Mexican population, which analyzed the history and culture of that population through an exercise in comparative law between international human rights law and existing national practices.
- In May 2017, OHCHR and the Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equality of the Organization of American States organized a meeting in Chile on the issue of the collection and disaggregation of statistical data in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Participants examined the possibility of establishing a set of indicators that could aid in measuring the impact of public policies for people of African descent, paying particular attention to women of African descent.
- Peru undertook research and data collection on the human rights situation of Afro-Peruvians. Indicators such as poverty, employment, health, education, manifestations of discrimination and cultural identity were collected and regularly updated in a database. A geo-ethnic map of the distribution of Afro-Peruvians in the country was also prepared.
- The Ombudsman of Colombia conducted a study to obtain information on the human rights situation, the impact of the armed conflict and the effects of the activities of the extractive industries on the Afro-Colombian population.
- In Mexico, a survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography incorporated, for the first time, a question aimed at identifying and counting persons and communities of African descent.
- West Midlands, United Kingdom, launched a new mobile app to record police stops and make searches more efficient.
- London, United Kingdom, established community monitoring groups within each borough to review the practice of stops and search by the city’s police.
- In Pernambuco, Brazil, a civil society group against institutional racism collaborates with the local police for trainings, a hotline for reporting racist crimes, and carrying out campaigns against racism.
- In Spain, local civil society groups have been actively involved in monitoring and advocating against police racial profiling. They also used United Nations human rights mechanisms to challenge practices and hold law enforcement accountable.
- The Toronto Police Service in Canada conducted an internal audit to examine individual agent conduct and stop and search patterns.
- England, United Kingdom, introduced software to analyze stop and search patterns and identify officers with problematic patterns of contact.
- In Fuenlabrada, Spain, police identity checks were monitored through a pilot project in order to reshape police policies and practices and minimize patterns of bias.
- Bulgaria, Spain and the United Kingdom provided a record of a stop or search to the member of the public involved, as a form of on-the-spot accountability.
The right to development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- In Uruguay, scholarships are offered to Afro-Uruguayan students with the goal of promoting racial equality in education for people of African descent. Increasing equitable funding for education strengthens the access of Afrodescendent communities to higher education and labour markets later in life.
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- In Argentina, the Ministry of Production and Labour and the Centre for Migrant and Refugee Orientation are cooperating to create new professional opportunities for migrants and refugees, particularly those of African descent, and also to offer Spanish language courses with a view to increasing access to employment.
- In Colombia the National Learning Service offers professional formation courses to Afro-Colombians to give them greater access to the labour market. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism provides technical assistance and financing to tourism initiatives proposed by Afro-Colombian communities. The National System of Agricultural Innovation helps to develop strategies to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and new technologies to increase the agricultural productivity of Afro-Colombian farming communities.
- The UN-Women in Colombia has supported livelihood initiatives for women of African descent led by local civil society organizations, with funding from Norway. These initiatives are also contributing to women’s leadership and organizational capacity, which can have wider impacts on inclusive economic development.
- OHCHR hosts its annual fellowship programme for people of African descent. It provides participants with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of international human rights law and the United Nations human rights system, with a focus on issues of particular relevance to people of African descent.
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Mexico developed a work programme for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent. It includes actions related to the legislative field and public policies that underpin recognition of people of African descent, the generation of statistical information, work on the prevention and elimination of racial profiling that affects them, work to counteract hate speech, and various educational activities.
- Costa Rica adopted a national policy for a society free from racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. As part of the process of developing the policy, several consultations were held throughout the country with Afrodescendent communities, so that their voices and concerns could be included in the national policy.
- Sweden adopted in 2016 the national action plan against racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime. Several measures within this area are presented in the plan, and since then more actions have been initiated and carried out. In the statement of Government policy (January 2019), it is stated that the work on the national plan to combat racism will continue and that xenophobic hate crimes against minorities will be vigorously combated.
- In Switzerland, through a partnership between the Service for Combating Racism, the Federal Commission against Racism and the Federal Statistical Office, data were collected on the experiences of people of African descent. Thanks to the data, measures have been taken to tackle discriminatory patterns at federal and cantonal levels.
- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supports national institutions in strengthening their capacity for population data collection, disaggregation and analysis to promote visibility and equity for people of African descent in national policies. Some examples include Chile, Colombia, Haiti and Nicaragua.
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- DGC (Department of Global Communications) of the UN Secretariat supports people of African descent in documenting their experiences of climate change so that they may be shared with those working in preventing and mitigating its impacts. For example, the United Nations Information Centre at Bogota, in collaboration with the World Food Programme, produced a short video available on YouTube on Afrodescendent communities in the Pacific coastal region of Colombia on their adaptation to climate change, with a focus on food security and gender.
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Peru adopted in 2018 an action plan to ensure access to justice for the Afro‑Peruvian population. In 2019, bill No. 03793/2018-PE was adopted to prevent, eliminate and sanction racism and discrimination, including through support to groups victimized by racial discrimination, and to raise public awareness of these issues.
- Portugal adopted law No. 93/2017, which amends the legal framework on the prevention, prohibition and combating of discrimination based on racial and ethnic origin. The new law declares illegal the refusal to supply goods or services on grounds of racial or ethnic origin. It includes articles on the principle of equal treatment and prohibition of discrimination.
- In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the German Institute for Human Rights developed training modules on racism for judges and public prosecutors. The purpose of the training modules is to help judicial staff to respond appropriately to acts motivated by hate, to take the experience of people affected by racism into account in their work.
- In Spain a number of measures to tackle hate crimes against Afrodescendent communities were adopted. The Secretary of State for Security issued an instruction establishing a protocol of action for security bodies and forces on how to respond to hate crimes, including those that are racially motivated.
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
- UN-Women Brazil, through the advocacy and communication project “Black Women towards a Planet 50-50 in 2030,” supported by the Netherlands, has been contributing to the strengthening of the capacity of black women activists to participate in national and international measures for reducing gender inequality, including the Commission on the Status of Women.
- The Organization of American States (OAS) has adopted a regional Plan of Action for the Decade for People of African Descent in the Americas (2016–2025) and an additional international cooperation mechanism was created to help implement the Plan of Action. The Inter-American Network of High Authorities on Policies for Afrodescendent Populations was established at the first Inter-American Meeting of High-level Authorities on Policy for Afro-descendent Populations. Members of the Network will work to promote dialogue and collaboration among national authorities to promote policies for people of African descent.
- At the European Union level, the Agency for Fundamental Rights has completed a survey and report on being Black in the European Union (2018). In addition to providing important data for monitoring and accountability in regard to the Sustainable Development Goals, the report briefly notes other international cooperation efforts, such as the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup of the European Parliament.
- In Serbia, in order to promote mutual understanding, the Government launched a public competition to recognize research focused on culture and cultural heritage of different minorities living in the country, including people of African descent.
- The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society distributed government grants to non-governmental organizations and foundations under the Ordinance on State Grants for Activities against Racism and Similar Forms of Intolerance. Funding was also granted by the Government for the production of an overview on the extent of Afrophobia in Sweden.
- Lithuania provided financing to the Institute for Ethnic Studies to ensure that long-term research is conducted and annual public opinion polls undertaken to analyze the attitudes of Lithuanian residents towards different ethnic and social groups, including people of African descent. This data is used to assess racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance for the Inter-Institutional Action Plan to Promote Non-Discrimination.
- Kazakhstan contributed to the construction of the Ark of Return, the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade unveiled at United Nations Headquarters in March 2015.
Report of the Secretary-General on the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent [A/70/339]
Report of the Secretary-General on the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent [A/71/290]
Report of the Secretary-General on the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent [A/72/323]
Report of the Secretary-General on the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent [A/73/354]
Report of the Secretary-General on the Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent [A/74/308]