2021 Civil Society Proposal on the Modalities of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent II 6.4.21

geneva

Academic Lead of drafting team: Dr Michael McEachrane

How we lobbied for the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PAD)

Here is a narrative of the work carried out to arrive at the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PAD)

Proposing a UN space for PAD and grassroots and community organisations to showcase their work around PAD human rights (monitoring and evaluating) and Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs):

UPDATED Proposal for the United Nations WGEPAD 20th session, “Leaving no one behind, people of African descent and the Sustainable Development Goals”, 3-7 April 2017

Proposing a prototype UN forum for PAD especially showcasing supplementary education and community enterprise (including community SDG monitoring matrix):

UN Human Rights meeting to be addressed by Visiting Research Fellow 16.11.17 – UPDATED: 26.11.17

Exploring strategic litigation at the EU Commission as a parallel strategy alongside the UN Permanent Forum:

EU Commission Report on “Being Black in Europe” 28.11.18

Baselining PAD human rights for forum, as per “Leaving Noone Behind” proposal:

24th session of the Working Group WGEPAD (OHCHR), 25-29 March 2019, Geneva

Reviewing the mid term of the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD)

To the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent towards its midterm review report on the UN International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024

Proposing Modalities for a Permanent Forum for PAD

Read our 2019 draft.

How we wrote a ‘draft zero’ for nation states to negotiate:

Working in consultation with UN co-facilitators, Mr Asnal Ngartolna, Representative of the Permanent Mission of Chad to the United Nations and Mr Daniel Zavala Porras Representative of the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations, we submitted our final recommendations for the modalities of the UN Permanent Forum on the People of African Descent that built on our previous 2019 draft.

Permanent Forum on People of African Descent –  Virtual informal consultation with Member States and Civil Society (April 9, 2021):

At 1:05:00, you can watch Dr Michael McEachrane’s summary of our proposal, here.

Draft Resolution of The Permanent Forum on People of African Descent for consideration by the UN General Assembly

Final draft resolution can be read here.

As result of our lobbying, here are some of its contents whose wording are a direct result of our efforts (as outlined in our submission and advocacy):

  1. Paragraph 1B: “To provide in coordination with existing mechanisms, expert advice and recommendations to the Human Rights Council, the Main Committees of the General Assembly, and organs, programs, funds, and agencies of the United Nations…”
  2. Paragraph 1G: “To raise awareness and promote integration and coordination of activities, agencies, funds and programmes relating to people of African descent within the United Nations system”
  3. Paragraph 2: “Membership shall take into account the diversity and geographical distribution of people of African descent in the world, ensuring gender parity as well as the principles of transparency, representativity and equal opportunity for all people of African descent. All members shall serve in their personal capacity as independent experts on issues of people of African descent for a period of three years with the possibility of re-election or reappointment for one further period.”
  4. Paragraph 3: “Further decides that the Permanent Forum shall be open to the participation of States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and mechanisms in the field of
    human rights, national human rights institutions and other relevant national bodies, academics and experts on issues related to people of African descent and nongovernmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council; the Permanent Forum shall also be open to the participation of other non-governmental organizations, including grassroots and community-based organizations…”
  5. Paragraph 4: “Decides that the Permanent Forum shall submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on its activities, including advice and recommendations for future thematic subjects for their consideration, and engage in the interactive dialogue; the report shall be distributed to all Member States and the relevant
    United Nations organs, funds, programmes and agencies as a means, inter alia, of furthering the dialogue within the United Nations system on issues affecting people of African descent”
  6. Paragraph 5: “Also decides that the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent shall appoint for each session, on the basis of regional rotation, and in consultation with regional groups and organizations of people of African descent, a chairperson and a vice chairperson of
    the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent selected among members of the Permanent Forum.”
  7. Paragraph 6: “Further decides that the Permanent Forum shall meet annually, rotating between the United Nations Office at Geneva and the United Nations Headquarters or at such other place as the Permanent Forum may decide in accordance with existing financial rules and regulations of the United Nations…”
  8. Paragraph 7: “… contribute to and promote the efforts of the
    United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to improve the cooperation among United Nations mechanisms, the Universal Periodic Review, the ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum, treaty bodies, special procedures and specialized agencies, funds and programmes…”
  9. Paragraph 9: “…to provide the Forum, through the regular budget as well as voluntary contributions, with all necessary resources…”

General Assembly adopted the resolution (passed by silent procedure) on 29.7.21, here.

UPDATE

The UK, US, EU and Japan tried to postpone the vote with their objections and requests for (weakening) amendments. They lost the vote to postpone the vote 66 to 47. However, the General Assembly has postponed the vote until mid-August (when it is rumoured that not all member states will be available to vote (awaiting clarification of this, this was the case and proposed by the UK). However, the vote will now take place on Monday August 2nd). So in addition to a Twitter campaign and brief talks with the facilitators, we are also in the process of asking for diplomatic help from ECOWAS and CARIFORUM-EPA in advance of the vote.

See Concept Note for mobilising WTO for UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent

The resolution was finally adopted by consensus on 2.8.21!

See Concept Note for The Youth Forum on PAD

A UN Forum for Youth PAD shadowing the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.

 

UK Parliamentary Advocacy and Lobbying for The Permanent Forum on People of African Descent

Academic Lead: Dr Ornette D Clennon, Patricia Lamour, Blak Sox

Building on the UK government’s position on The Permanent Forum (here at 1:11:00), we decided to mount an awareness campaign to promote the Forum at grassroots and political levels in the UK.

Concept Note for The UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent, a UK Perspective, here.

A podcast explaining The UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent, here.

We drafted a Parliamentary Question (PQ) for Caroline Lucas, MP to table to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), here, where you can also read the FCDO (represented by Nigel Adams, MP) response.

Question tabled

22 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Government’s contribution to the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent on 9 April 2021, what type of good practice will be shared in the Forum for the implementation of the Programme Activities of the International Decade For People of African Descent.

Answered on

29 April 2021

The UK Government is currently taking part in the discussions on the modalities of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and considering the issues in that context. We remain committed to combating all forms of racism, both at home and abroad. We believe that one of the most effective ways to tackle injustices and advocate for respect among different ethnic and racial groups is to encourage states to uphold their human rights obligations.

This question was a follow up to her 2019 question about The Forum, here. We will work with Caroline Lucas, MP to construct a follow up update question in three months.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon’s response to Caroline Lucas’ follow up, here.

To assist us in organising a parliamentary debate about the implications of this answer, we met with Afzal Khan MP. Here is our presentation that we made to him. One of the issues Mr Khan raised was the fact the UN has no “legal teeth” as it depends on the cooperation of member states. We argued that The Forum could make recommendations to CERD that could in fact mount an official inquiry requiring ICERD-signed up member states to formally respond. We also argued that the process of gathering evidence for testimony in the Forum for later CERD-recommendations could kick start the process of strategic litigation against a member state alongside the CERD inquiry, in effect borrowing “legal teeth” from elsewhere.
 
Here are the issues we will discuss more widely:
 
1. The UK negotiating for a  Permanent Forum that is a space to encourage states to uphold their human rights obligations for their citizens of African Descent. (i.e. the Forum strongly coordinating with current UN Human Rights instruments to focus on human rights violations of people of African Descent and contributing to elaborating a United Nations declaration, on the promotion, protection and full respect of human rights of people of African descent)
 
2. In view of the UK upholding its human rights obligations, we need to find out why the UK won’t ratify Article 14 of ICERD, which permits individuals and groups to bring cases to CERD.
  • We also submitted oral evidence to Runnymede’s Civil Society report on the state of race and racism in England to the United Nations CERD, 2021, here.
3. What will replace the Human Rights Act if it is repealed and will the replacement be built on Human Rights Treaties/Conventions we have already signed up to?

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