The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 – 2015) to encourage States to recognize people of African descent and their contributions to the societies in which they live. The Decade also seeks to overcome historical injustices and accelerate development for communities of African descent who remain marginalized, stuck in poverty, and frequently victims of discrimination.
The Decade calls for urgent measures at the international, regional and national levels. But mobilisation for the Decade has been slow and engagement by national parliamentarians limited.
Therefore, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the European Network of People of African Descent (ENPAD), and the Organization for the Rights of People of African Descent (Guadeloupe), with the support of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, invited a core group of parliamentarians of African descent -- from Tunisia and Poland to Honduras -- to Brussels for a one-day consultation on how to accelerate progress. It is expected that a global network of parliamentarians of African descent will be established. Civil society groups were invited to exchange views with the Parliamentarians.
"The full inclusion of people of African descent in the societies in which they live is not only their human right," said Birgit Van Hout, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in Brussels, "it is in the best interest of society as a whole. Vice versa, when people of African descent are excluded, this also exacts a toll on society as a whole."
Belgium's role as a supporter of inclusion initiatives at the United Nations includes its leadership at the Durban Conference against Racism in 2001, of which the Decade on People of African descent is an offspring.