July 1, 2022

Accelerating collaborative efforts for the recognition, justice and development of people of African descent

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The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Tuesday, May 10, 2022—The University of the West Indies together with the Government of Barbados, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are co-hosting a meeting from May 12-13 in Bridgetown, Barbados aimed at identifying strategies for the protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent.

Opening remarks at this important meeting will be delivered by The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, Q.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Barbados. Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem, and Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles will also deliver remarks. 

The opening ceremony and high-level remarks will be broadcast live via The UWI’s public information and education service, UWITV via www.uwitv.org, and www.facebook.com/UWITV.

This meeting is an opportunity for thought leaders, academics, and experts to explore actions to accelerate the implementation of the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. This includes defining key actions for the needed promotion, greater knowledge, and respect for the diverse heritage, culture, and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies, as defined in key national, regional and international legal frameworks in accordance to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Participants will also discuss ways to strengthen partnerships between Africa and the Caribbean and Latin America region, identify mutually beneficial opportunities for partnerships and build international academic and intellectual support for the work of the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. 

Among those expected to participate include renowned thought leaders, academics, members of civil society from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and United Nations representatives from the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the group of Independent Experts for the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.  

Academic institutions, and in particular The University of the West Indies, have played an important role in the organisation of the 2021 CARICOM-Africa Summit. They are essential in the conceptualisation of the next steps to further and strengthen the relationship between Africa and its sixth region and advance the Afro-descendant agenda. Barbados itself has important historical significance in the legacy of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, with this meeting happening during the important Season of Emancipation. 

UNFPA sees the continuing impact of racism and discrimination in its work with disadvantaged populations around the world. This is especially true among women and girls of African descent, who face a double burden of race and gender discrimination. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for a global end to poverty by transforming economies and universally meeting a range of social needs and rights. premised on the assurance that no one will be left behind, the Agenda requires reaching those furthest behind first. Among them are many people of African descent, for whom the inequalities and discrimination confronted cuts across the SDGs, including their rights to land, housing, health care, education, employment, and political participation.

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