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UU United Nations Office Brings the Movement Black Lives to an International Stage
A UN Event on Structural Racism Against People of African Descent
International Human Rights & Justice, Racial Justice

The racial profiling, police brutality, voting restrictions, and mass imprisonment of African Americans and other people of African Descent not just in the United States, but around the world, is a moral outrage. As Unitarian Universalists, our dedication to global justice, equity, and dignity leads us to join hands across lines of race, class, age, and geography and work for an end to the injustices faced by black people in our communities, so that every person is treated equally. 

The Unitarian Universalist Association United Nations Office (UUA-UNO) is excited to bring the Movement for Black Lives to an international stage and explore institutionalized discrimination as a human rights violation that people of African descent face all around the world. Please join us on the occasion of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, for a special event co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Department of Public Information, UNESCO, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Black Lives Matter Initiative, and Amnesty International USA: 

Confronting the Silence: Perspectives and Dialogue on Structural Racism Against People of African Descent Worldwide

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

UN Secretariat Conference Building, ECOSOC Chamber

United Nations Headquarters, NYC

1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Watch it here!

The event will be organized in the form of a panel discussion. Following opening remarks and presentations made by the panelists, the floor will be opened for a question and answer session with participants to exchange and express views in a frank and open dialogue.

Welcoming Remarks

  • Mr. Ivan Šimonović, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights

Video Messages

  • Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Ms. Michaelle Jean, Secretary-General, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

Keynote Speakers

  • Mr. Harry Belafonte, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
  • Ms. Mireille Fanon-Mendès France, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
  • Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance


International Perspective

  • Ms. Gay McDougall, Member of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Latin America and Caribbean Perspective

  • Ms. Cheryl Sterling, Ph.D., Director, Black Studies Program, The City College of New York
  • Ms. Ramona Hernández, Ph.D., Director, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute & Professor of Sociology, The City College of New York

North American Perspective

  • Ms. Alicia Garza, Black Lives Matter
  • Mr. Steven W. Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
  • Ms. Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice who was fatally shot by police as a 12-year-old
  • Mr. John Crawford, father of  John Crawford III who was fatally shot by police  as a 22-year-old
  • Ms. Nicole C. Lee, Mothers Against Police Brutality

European Perspective

  • Mr. Christian Ahlund, Chair of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance


  • Mr. Bruce Knotts, Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association United Nations Office

Background on the Decade for People of African Descent

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent (resolution 68/237) with the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development”. At the center of this initiative is the promotion and protection of all human rights of people of African descent, the improvement of their well-being and the recognition of their culture, history and contribution to societies.

The main objective of the event is to discuss and exchange views on the causes and manifestations of structural and institutionalized discrimination against people of African descent, and to brainstorm on how to take advantage of the International Decade to tackle structural racism against people of African descent and achieve justice and the equal enjoyment of human rights for all in line with international human rights standards and the practice of the relevant human rights mechanisms.

Although both domestic and international progress has been made to prevent racism against people of African descent, prominent challenges remain globally that reveal permeating structural racism and discrimination. This discrimination is still a daily reality as they continue to experience consequences of the historical injustice and human rights violations that spanned centuries. People of African descent are among the poorest of the poor, face obstacles to fundamental rights such as quality education and access to employment, and the social recognition of their culture is limited. Political representation and participation is minimal, and the criminal justice system subjects them to excessive force and racial profiling, blocks their access to justice, and imprisons them at higher rates then ever.

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