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United Nations Forum Shines Spotlight on People of African Descent

On April 16th, 2024, the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) held its third session in Geneva, Switzerland. Established by the UN General Assembly, PFPAD serves as a vital platform for people of African descent and relevant stakeholders. It aims to enhance the safety, quality of life, and livelihoods of people of African descent globally. Furthermore, it acts as an advisory body to the Human Rights Council, aligning with the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Director of Public Policy Tiffany Roberts took the stage for the third time, representing the Southern Center for Human Rights and the JUSTGeorgia coalition. Alongside over a thousand civil society members and diplomats, she shared our insights and recommendations. These sessions offer a unique opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of Black people, particularly those living in the American South, who face challenges from and often find themselves targeted by criminal legal systems. Through attending PFPAD convenings, we gain valuable insights to weave international human rights mechanisms into our local and state initiatives.

We submitted an official written intervention to the Secretariat ahead of the session. This intervention called for an in-depth analysis of human rights violations against people of African descent, especially concerning jail and prison conditions. We are acutely aware that globally, people of African descent face numerous human rights violations, including torture and denial of fair legal processes. During the session, we also highlighted the pressing need for nuanced support to tackle systemic issues in governmental systems where Black people are not underrepresented.

Excitingly, on the first day of the session, we co-hosted a side event titled “Militarism on People of African Descent when Authoritarianism is Ascending.” This two-hour strategy session, sponsored by the International Civil Society Working Group for the PFPAD, brought together voices from the Movement for Black Lives, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, SCHR, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Together, we explored intersectional tactics and strategies to counter repressive trends targeting Black communities globally. As we gear up for the 4th PFPAD session in 2025, this collaboration promises continued coordination and impactful actions.