Editor’s Note: The following report from the United Nations’ 1st Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, held from December 5-9, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, was prepared by Efia Nwangaza, former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Atlanta Project, leader of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and its community radio station WMXP in Greenville, SC and founding member of the Black is Back Coalition for Peace, Social Justice and Reparations.
Comrade Efia’s participation in this event is part of an ongoing effort by African leaders to bring before the world the colonial oppression and genocidal conditions faced by black communities throughout the U.S.
The Uhuru Movement has been a part of this effort and for this work, has been targeted by the FBI and accused, as was Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois and so many other African leaders, of being pawns of the Russian government.
In August 2001, African People’s Socialist Party leader Chimurenga Selembao (then Waller) represented the APSP at the first United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where peoples around the world agreed that slavery and colonialism were crimes against humanity for which reparations were due. Comrade Efia’s following report elaborates on this.
In January 2016, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement organized a multi-city winter encampment following the U.N.’s “Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent” fact-finding visits to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Jackson-Mississippi, Chicago and New York City, to press the charge of genocide against the U.S. government and demand reparations.
The Uhuru Movement salutes Comrade Efia for her continuing to take the case of African people to the international community.
The Permanent Forum on People of African Descent is the United States and other European countries, former colonizers and enslavers, effort to control today’s Bandung-like Global reparations centered freedom movement, evidenced by the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA). The Forum as presently constituted, is a mechanism designed to way lay, blunt and bury the DDPA with hand-picked gatekeepers and the racist slur of “anti-semitism.”
In Durban, the world–governments and civil society–reached a consensus and issued the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA). The world declared colonialism, slavery, apartheid, and genocide crimes against humanity, without statute of limitations and a basis for reparations.
In 2001, the United States, lead by then Secretary of State Colin Powell, walked out of the Durban World Conference Against Racism. The U.S. and other European countries, former colonizers, worked to prevent the global consensus that was reached and, having failed, continue to work to undermine and bury it.
The Forum is composed of 10 members; five nominated by states and five by the President of the Human Rights Council, “in consultation with civil society.” Here “Civil Society” is not limited to people of African descent, as is the case with the members of the indigenous people’s forum.
While the U.S. described how it pressured governments to vote for its pick, Justin Hanford, little or nothing else is known about the rest’s appointment. It is located in Geneva, in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), instead of the more accessible New York, under the Economic and Social Council. A Portuguese interpreter, for the largest African population outside the Continent, was hired and wheel chairs provided for disabled delegates after fervent demands.
The Forum chair, Epsy Campbell-Barr is a former vice president of Costa Rica, one of the world’s smallest countries and even smaller number people of African descent; little more than 400,000, “including mixed race.” Vice Chair is Alice Ange’le Nkom of Cameroon. She is the first woman admitted to practice law in Cameroon and is President of the Cameroonian Association for Defence of Homosexuality, Co-Chairperson of the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, and a member of the National Democratic Institute International Working Group. (In previous reports, I mistakenly described Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez, Columbia lawyer, as Vice Chair.) The Rappateur is, Michael McEachrane of Sweden, “mixed race, academic and activist;” as of 2016, there were 110,758 citizens of African nations residing in Sweden.
Justin Hansford, USA member/Pan-Euro representative, Director of the Howard University Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. He, like Clarence Thomas, enjoys the goodwill and inferred credibility that comes of the use of Marshall’s name. Hansford, presenting himself as a Black “liberator,” dismissed the DDPA saying “I was 16 years old when it was written.” A comment he now denies. Others reported he’s said he “believes he can get a better deal.” I reprimanded him for trying to gaslight me and others when the chair refused to take floor responses to McEachrane’s attempt to limit DDPA relevance in his “interim” summary of the session’s future work. “The DDPA will be applied to the extent it applies to people of African descent,” he said. In a recent interview, Hansford suggested the “participation of Asians” in the DDPA consensus is basis for setting it aside. The current Forum has a full voting Chinese member.
Ms. Nwangaza challenged Forum participants, in-person and virtual, to read the DDPA. Admonished them to not let fancy, obscure language, lack of information, age, experience, and a short term promise (Sustainable Development Goals, SDG) of an immediate bowl of porridge cause us to betray our peoples. All were challenged to fully claim, affirm, and assert the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as an expression of our human right of self-determination.
She further reminded them, “The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is the heart and soul of this Forum, without the DDPA this is nothing more than a free trip and a talk fest. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is our lifeline and that of generations unborn.
HOLD ON TO IT— BLACK POWER! BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL! BLACK POWER! BLACK POWER to BLACK PEOPLE!!! ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!” The crowd roared and gave one of two standing ovations. The call for fidelity to the DDPA rang out throughout the remaining days. For more information on the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, contact Efia Nwangaza,Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org