African Diaspora

16th session of the Human Rights Council Panel discussion on the full enjoyment of the human rights of people of African descent, to mark the International Year for People of African Descent

Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva
2 March 2011, 12:00-15:00, Room XX, Palais des Nations

Mandate and background
GA resolution 64/169 proclaimed the year beginning on 1 January 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent, with a view to strengthening national actions and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to their full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and the promotion of a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture.

In its resolution 14/16, the HRC decided to convene a panel discussion during the high-level segment of its sixteenth session focusing on the full enjoyment of the human rights of people of African descent, to mark the International Year for People of African Descent.

Focus and objectives
The panel will discuss the situation of people of African Descent with a focus on the issues that constitute challenges to the full enjoyment of their human rights. People of African descent have been historically discriminated against and are recognized as a victim group in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. With the declaration by the GA of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent, the HRC will take this opportunity during its 16th session to examine what obstacles exist to their enjoyment of social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights.

Panelists will be asked to make presentations on the different challenges facing people of African descent, such as education, housing, employment and the full integration into social, economic and political life and at all levels of decision-making. As well as the challenges that persist, panelists will be asked to indicate good practices that may be followed to effectively address the problems facing people of African descent.

Opening statement: High Commissioner for Human Rights
Moderator: H.E. Ambassador Mr. Sihasak PHUANGKETKEOW President of the Human Rights Council 2

Panelists:
• Ms. Mirjana Najcevska, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
• Dr. Luis Almagro, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay
• Mr. Pastor Murillo, member of CERD
• Ms. Epsy Campbell, President, Centre for Afro-Costarican Women, San Jose, Costa Rica

Format
The opening addresses and the presentations by the panelists will be followed by an interactive discussion. This discussion will be divided, in principle, into two slots of 60 minutes each (45 minutes for comments and questions from the floor, followed by 15 minutes for comments and replies by panelists). The modalities of the panel are: 7 minutes for panelists, 3 minutes for Member States and 2 minutes for Observers. Depending on the number of speakers inscribed, the moderator may adjust the speaking time appropriately in order to enhance the interactive nature of the discussion. The interactive debate will be followed by concluding remarks by the moderator.

Outcome
The discussion will increase awareness of the International Year for People of African Descent as well as the challenges that continue to face people of African descent regarding the full enjoyment of their human rights. Good practices will also be highlighted. All interventions will be posted on the extranet of the HRC. HCHR will take into account the discussion when formulating concrete actions relating to people of African descent.

Background documents
• Resolution of the General Assembly proclaiming the International Year for people of African Descent (A/RES/64/169);
• Resolution of the Human Rights Council deciding to convene a panel on the full enjoyment of the human rights of people of African descent during its 16th session;
• Report of the Secretary-General on a draft programme of activities for the International Year for People of African Descent (A/65/227 and Add.1)

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