International Decade for People of African Descent 2

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Afrikaanse afkomst – African descent – African

“My identity might begin with the fact of my race, but it didn’t, couldn’t end there. At least that’s what I would choose to believe.”

Barack Obama, American President in “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance”.

Introduction

This column is a follow-up to the one published in the February 2017 issue of TAB – The African Bulletin. To refresh your memory, this is what I wrote:

What is this ‘International Decade for People of African Descent’?

On 23rd December 2013, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent (resolution 68/237) citing the need to strengthen national, regional and international cooperation in relation to the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent, and their full and equal participation in all aspects of society.

How did this decade come about and what does it mean?

This proclamation by the UN did of course not just come out of the blue, but followed from the 2001 third World Conference against Racism, which took place in Durban South Africa. This resulted in the ‘Durban Declaration’ which stated that the people from Africa had been victimized by slavery and continued to suffer. Therefore all states were called states to adopt specific steps to help combat racism and xenophobia and to protect its victims.

The seeds of the International Decade for People of African Descent were sown in 2001 with the third World Conference against Racism, which led to the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Durban Declaration, in addition to declaring that the people of Africa had been victimized by slavery and continued to suffer as a result, called for During the International Year for People of African Descent, ten years later, the UN called for these efforts to intensify. Two years later, in December 2013, the UN resolved that 1 January 2015 would launch the International Decade for People of African Descent.

The full column can still be read at: http://mediablackberry.com/international-decade-for-people-of-african-descent/.

The main objectives of this International Decade are as follows:

• Promote respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
• Promote a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies;
• Adopt and strengthen national, regional and international legal frameworks according to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to ensure their full and effective implementation.

The Decade in the Netherlands – what happened and is planned?

The decade was launched in The Hague on 25 October 2016. The National Platform for History of Slavery and the Institute of Cultural Heritage & Knowledge have created an inventory of a social map of organizations, networks and individuals that aim to improve the position of people of African descent.
http://www.africandescent.nl/home/wiki/178973/sociale-kaart-netwerk
This social map now contains up to 120 organizations, institutions and individuals that are in one way or the other concerned with Africa.

Launching the ‘Landelijk Breed Overleg’ of and for Civil Society of African Descent in the Netherlands – Thursday 5th October in The Hague

Landelijk Breed Overleg (LBO) can be translated as ‘Country-wide Broad Consultation’

The document ‘Contours of the Landelijk Breed Overleg (LBO) of, for and by the civil society of African descent’; drawn up by the Coordination and Monitoring Working group for the UN decade in collaboration with the Taskforce Implementation LBO explains the aims and set-up.

This event will establish a national organisation structure LBO – Landelijk Breed Overleg, based on the Civil Society of African Descent, with a Council a steering Group and four Commissions. These are: Erkenning-Recognition, Rechtvaardigheid-Justification, Ontwikkeling-Development and last Goodwill Ambassadeurs.

The LBO aims to be the Centre of Expertise for the Civil Society of African descent. This can take the form or organizing ‘inspraak’ participation in decision making, private and public concept- and project development, policy making and other activities relating to the implementation of the UN Decade for people of African descent. This includes the start-up of the implementation of projects sand activities, including the stimulating of research and study.

The LBO’s strategy will be a co-ordinated, structured and coherent working method. The policy is aimed at awareness creation, capacity development- and strengthening as well as identity- and institutional strengthening. By working towards synergy (integration of expertise) the LBO hopes to contribute to combat the ‘divide and rule’ governance, which still hinders many people of African descent.

The LBO strives to function as:

• Intermediair – between the responsible government body and the so-called ‘rank and file’
• Lobbyist – promote the mission and aims of the UN Decade in a way that will stimulate relevant stakeholders to positive action whether or not in from of expertise, facilities and funds that contribute to the success of the UN Decade.
• Matchmaker/Intermediate To bring relevant parties together for ideas, programme, project development-, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
• Redirection/Question time and advice.
• Stimulation of Expertise, identity-, capacity-, and institutional strengthening.

Information and documents on the UN Decade in The Netherlands

The following (mostly in Dutch) can be downloaded or accessed online:

ContourenHetLandelijkBreedOverlegVNDecenniumPOAD.pdf
https://www.facebook.com/africandescentNL/
http://www.africandescent.nl/home/wiki/234698/decennium%20activiteiten
More information on this event is available from mailing to: decade@people-of-african-descent.nl or 0654358055 –0683008961-0633984958-0621526352

Afrikaanse afkomst – African descent – African

In the June 2012 issue of TAB – The African Bulletin my column was: “Are you an African?” Most of my readers, being African Diasporas in Europe and North America would think or say: “What kind of question is that? You know I am from Kenya (or Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania…) so I am African. That is technically of traceable African Descent.

This can’t be said of those from the Caribbean or Surinam as their African descent is mostly not traceable (recent genealogy science is changing that).

In the Netherlands the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) is responsible for the implementation of the UN Decade.

SZW states to have a broad interpretation of ‘African descent’ but remarks that most organizations are focussed on Africa South of the Sahara and continues to mention that this would then be mainly those from Surinam and the Caribbean and perhaps some refugees like from Somalia and Eritrea.

This unfortunately totally neglects the numerically smaller but sizable African population in The Netherlands from a host of countries like, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Cape Verde etc.

Conclusion

In my view the background, objectives and feelings of the two groups mentioned above are very different. Pre-occupation with the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which made those from the Caribbean and Surinam of African descent in the Diaspora by history, while the other is pre-occupied with political and economic developments at home in Africa and African Diaspora mostly by choice.

Can both be rallied together for the objectives of the UN Decade International Decade for People of African Descent?

I hope to be there on 5th October and report on the LBO in the November issue of TAB.

*Ato Bob is a former Dutch Diplomat who now consults with various NGO’s on African issues. He lives in Rotterdam and may be reached on atobobhensen@hotmail.com

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