Twenty-one years ago, in the city of Durban, South Africa, the United Nations held its third World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and its related forms (WCAR). The conference was meant to draw the attention of different governments, multilateral organizations, and social organizations to the cancer of racism and xenophobia that was affecting more than 120 million Afro descendants in our
Americas, as well as 40 million African descendants in Europe.
At that conference—which took place during the first week of September 2001—more than 100 Afro descendant organizations managed to work together and promote an agenda full of pain and hope, despite the sabotage we suffered from the neoliberal powers that had profited from the slave trade and African enslavement and who, in the 21st century, continue to carry out racial violence, patriarchal racism and institutional racial discrimination. They also continue to refine the geographical poverty line that encircles and ensnares Afro-descendant populations.
We vowed, at the WCAR conference, to keep the pressure on governments who had practiced the slave trade and slavery and we spoke of the need to petition for restorative justice. As a result, the former enslavers and slave-prospering governments decided to withdraw from the WCAR Conference. Social movement organizers from the Americas and Caribbean insisted that the final declaration of the WCAR Conference had to declare that the slave trade and African slavery were “Crimes Against Humanity,” and we wanted the WCAR’s action plan to state that United Nation’s member countries needed to enforce public policies that would promote the civil rights of Afro descendants and reparations for the ethical, biological, and economic damages committed against Africans and their descendants.
Since the WCAR conference, racism and xenophobia have been growing both in the Americas and in Europe. In 2011, due to pressure from Afro descendant social movements, the U.N. declared the Year for People of African Descent and later the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) with the following three principles: justice, recognition and development.
Seven years have passed since the proclamation of the Afro descendant decade and very few countries have signed, complied with, and activated the decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racism, discrimination, patriarchy and xenophobia against migration. This has affected millions of Afro descendants and Africans in the last three years.
We need to promote a new Afro-descendant decade since this is already an accepted idea within the UN. And, we need the creation of an Afro descendant Fund within the United Nations. This fund should be made up of government and Afro descendant social movement representatives who can come together and work on an agenda that talks about reparations, the eradication of institutional racism, the implementation of the millennial goals, and ways to eradicate repressive police and judicial systems, among other things. This is an urgent task, we need to take it on; this is how we can confront the current situation faced by millions of Africans and their descendants.
Jesús Chucho García is an Afro Venezuelan activist. García is a founding member of the Regional Articulation of Afro-descendants of the Americas and the Caribbean (ARAAC) and has written a dozen books on African and Afro descendant issues. He held diplomatic posts for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Angola, Mali and New Orleans. García can be reached by email at Fundacionafroamerica@gmail.com.