Message by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the International Day for People of African Descent
31 August 2023
On the International Day for People of African Descent, we celebrate the achievements and the cultural, economic, political and scientific contributions of people of African descent throughout history in every area of human endeavour.
The continent of Africa and people of African descent have had an enormous impact on the development, diversity and richness of world civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind.
At the same time, we acknowledge the pervasive discrimination faced by people of African descent around the world, and the many obstacles they face to realising their full human rights.
Racism, marginalization and stigmatization continue to blight our world. The legacy of centuries of enslavement and exclusion continues to reverberate in entrenched inequalities and injustices.
Recent years have seen renewed momentum for change, based on the global anti-racism movement of 2020. The recent establishment of the Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement, and the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, are a testament to the collective aspirations of people of African descent for justice and equality worldwide.
I have made anti-racism a management priority at the United Nations. Our Anti-Racism team, led by My Special Adviser, Mojankunyane Gumbi, is overseeing the implementation of our Strategic Action Plan on Addressing Racism and Promoting Dignity for All.
Today, as we mark the International Day for People of African Descent, I reiterate the call of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to use the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to announce and take prompt and robust steps to advance equality and combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.
I urge States to take concrete steps, with the full participation of people of African descent and their communities, to tackle old and new forms of racial discrimination; and to dismantle entrenched structural and institutional racism.
Today and every day, we must continue to speak out against all ideas of racial superiority, and work tirelessly to free all societies from the blight of racism.