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Published on Dec 7, 2016
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
Interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent under agenda item 9 - Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
Joint Statement delivered by Ms. Helen Weldu
As longstanding supporters of the Working Group we are saddened over the drastic decline of the Working Group under its previous Chair and which continued until the most recent session. The last session of the Working Group was the least attended ever in the history of the Working Group. Only one single NGO or organization of People of African Descent from outside Geneva attended. The OHCHR had not sent out any information on the holding of the Working Group to NGOs as was done in the past. On the website of the OHCHR three different competing dates appeared during the month prior to the session. We raised the problem of lack of information in the intervention at the September 2015 interactive dialogue with the Working Group Chair but no attention was paid to the NGOs plea for improvement. Regrettably there were no apologies presented to civil society at the last session. Instead civil society was blamed for not coming.
Mr. President, we have the unfortunate impression that most of the Working Group has little interest in the contributions from civil society partners who contributed to the standing of the Working Group when it was at its best. At the last session not a single of many constructive proposals that were made by civil society networks was even discussed or considered by the Working Group.
It is obvious that deep-going reflection is needed with the Working Group and serious reform be considered in order for the Working Group to return to a meaningful role. The Working Group also needs to clarify if it will respect and adhere to its original mandate as determined by the DDPA or if the deviation that was announced in 2015 is still maintained.
In this respect we would like to draw attention to the longstanding proposal from NGOs and Member States to transform the Working Group of Experts into a Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, which would be in accordance with the hopes of People of African Descent at the outset of the International Decade.