International Day for People of African Descent 2024
The International Day for People of African Descent is an annual observance celebrated on August 31. It was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2021 to recognize the contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies and to promote tolerance, understanding, and mutual respect between people of African descent and people of other ethnic groups.
International Day for People of African Descent Theme 2024
The official theme for the International Day for People of African Descent in 2024, observed on August 31st, has not yet been announced by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
History of the International Day for People of African Descent
- The midpoint of the International Decade for People of African Descent was reached in 2020.
- While legislative, policy, and institutional advancements have been achieved, individuals of African descent still confront multifaceted and compounded forms of racial discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion.
- Despite five years passing since the start of the Decade, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the pressing need to address longstanding structural inequalities and systemic racism within the healthcare system.
- The lack of acknowledgment continues to stand as a significant obstacle, hindering the complete and effective enjoyment of human rights by people of African descent.
- The year 2020 also marked a pivotal moment in the global response to these issues, both internationally and within individual countries.
- The tragic killing of George Floyd ignited widespread protests against racism and racial discrimination, sparking essential global conversations on racial justice.
- On June 19, 2020, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution focused on safeguarding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and people of African descent from excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers.
In alignment with this resolution, the High Commissioner for Human Rights presented her plan for transformative change towards racial justice and equality to the Human Rights Council during its 47th session.
Significance of the International Day for People of African Descent
The International Day for People of African Descent, observed for the first time on August 31, 2021, serves as a platform through which the United Nations seeks to spotlight the remarkable contributions of the global African diaspora and to combat all forms of discrimination faced by individuals of African descent.
- These international observances reflect the shared values of societies.
- Every individual is born with inherent dignity and equal rights, possessing the potential to positively impact the development and well-being of their communities.
- Any notion of racial superiority is not only scientifically unfounded, but also morally reprehensible, socially unjust, and perilous.
- Such ideologies must be unequivocally rejected, along with theories that attempt to establish distinct human races.
- The United Nations strongly denounces the persisting use of violence and excessive force by law enforcement agencies against Africans and individuals of African descent.
- The Organization also condemns systemic racism within criminal justice systems worldwide.
Moreover, the United Nations acknowledges the Transatlantic Slave Trade as a dark chapter in human history, emphasizing the importance of upholding human dignity and equality for those affected by slavery, the slave trade, and colonialism, especially people of African descent in the African diaspora.
International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024)
The proclamation of this Decade reflects the global acknowledgment that people of African descent constitute a distinctive group deserving of the promotion and protection of their human rights. Approximately 200 million individuals who identify themselves as of African descent reside in the Americas, and many more millions inhabit various regions outside of the African continent.
These individuals, whether descendants of those impacted by the transatlantic slave trade or more recent migrants, often find themselves among the most economically disadvantaged and marginalized populations. Numerous studies conducted by international and national organizations reveal that people of African descent still encounter barriers to accessing quality education, healthcare, adequate housing, and social security.
Frequently, their circumstances remain unnoticed, with their endeavors to address their present challenges often underappreciated and underestimated. Discrimination in the pursuit of justice is an all-too-common occurrence, and they confront distressingly high levels of police violence and racial profiling.
The United Nations has made the promotion and protection of the human rights of individuals of African descent a prominent priority. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action recognized that people of African descent have been historical victims of slavery, the slave trade, and colonialism, and they continue to bear the consequences of these injustices.
The Durban process heightened the visibility of people of African descent and triggered tangible progress in upholding and safeguarding their rights through concrete actions taken by States, the United Nations, international and regional entities, and civil society.
However, despite these advancements, racism and racial discrimination, whether overt or covert, implicit or explicit, persist and are evident in forms of inequality and disadvantage.
The International Decade for People of African Descent, established by General Assembly resolution 68/237 and spanning from 2015 to 2024, offers a robust framework for collective efforts by the United Nations, Member States, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders to collaborate with individuals of African descent. These efforts aim to effectively implement the program of activities with a focus on recognition, justice, and development.
This Decade builds on the International Year for People of African Descent, observed globally in 2011, and provides a distinct opportunity to underscore the valuable contributions made by people of African descent to our societies. It also enables the proposal of concrete measures to enhance their comprehensive inclusion and to counteract racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related forms of intolerance.
31st August 2024 Special Day
On August 31, 2024, the world commemorates the International Day for People of African Descent. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2021, this annual observance acknowledges the valuable contributions of people of African descent to societal development. It serves as a powerful catalyst to promote tolerance, understanding, and mutual respect, fostering harmonious relationships between people of African descent and those from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
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