Preliminary Conclusions: UN Forum Acknowledges People With Disabilities of African Descent in Recommendations
From the 30 May to 2 June 2023, the United Nations in New York hosted the 2nd Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD). The forum is part of a global consultative process which brings together institutions at the UN, civil society representative, human rights activists of African descent, UN member states and intergovernmental organisations, to advance equality by addressing systemic and structural racism experienced by people of African descent.
For the General Debate, Minority Rights Group and partner Vidas Negras com Deficiência Importam movement (VNDI) submitted recommendations focused on issues of intersectional discrimination. At the forum, Luciana Viegas, Director of VNDI, delivered a powerful statement expressing concern about the situation of Black people with disabilities and the lack of representation of this population at the forum and within other human rights spaces. In her statement, she explained how ‘Ableism and racism allow a normalization of oppression and violation of the human rights of people of African descent with disabilities’.
The impact of minority activists with disabilities being present and speaking in decision-making spaces can be very powerful. The Preliminary Conclusions and Recommendations of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent were released at the end of July and included three mentions of people with disabilities (7, 16 and 42b), one recommendation specifically on accessibility (42c) and another on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination (32).
These mentions on disability were significantly more detailed and extensive than those issued in the Conclusions and Recommendations from the 1st Forum, which signifies progress in the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities of African descent. MRG believes the mentions would not have emerged without the foregrounding work of Black activists with disabilities across the world and the presence of VNDI at the forum this year.
Congratulations to VNDI on this achievement! MRG and VNDI urge the PFPAD secretariat, UN member states, relevant UN bodies and civil society organisations to carry forward these recommendations and implement them into ongoing and collective work to dismantle systemic and structural discrimination.
Photo: Screenshot from the advocacy statement video.