Tuesday, April 23, 2024


The United Nations convened the First Session of the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent – a truly historic occasion, in Geneva from December 5 – 8, 2022. The meeting was well attended. A large and impressive number of governments whose citizenry include African Descendant people thought it important to be present to signal their support of and interest in the welfare and progress of their African descendant brothers and sisters. Governments were matched by a large and vibrant civil society presence from those countries and more. Civil Society representatives at times endorsed and applauded the efforts already being made by their governments but also took the opportunity to openly criticize them and indicate where more could be done.
The Forum offered a healthy and healing opportunity to address the long-standing and painful issues confronting persons of African Descent world-wide and for national representatives, both government and civil society to hear the same messages and recommendations and make the effort to get on the same page for the way forward. It was a priceless opportunity – one not to be ignored or taken lightly.

The concerns of the African Guyanese community were represented solely by IDPADA- G. Unlike other regional governments, the government of Guyana did not see this meeting as a priority and so was not represented at this historic Forum. The decision not to attend doubles down on the perception that, to this administration, the issues of concern to the African Guyanese community are not unique; do not require specific attention; and consequently, are not even on the government’s radar.

In preparation for this historic first session, IDPADA-G convened a meeting with member organizations and the wider community to hear their concerns and to be informed about the priorities they wished addressed in Geneva. The message that IDPADA-G took to the meeting was drawn entirely from its membership and the wider African Guyanese community.
The message conveyed the perilous state of our community, especially when compared with other ethnic groups’ access to government resources or support and aligned with UN reports by Doudou Diène, UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia in 2003 and as well as the 2008 findings of Independent Expert on Minority issues, Gay McDougal.
As early as July of this year, IDPADA-G wrote to the President of Guyana requesting a meeting to bring to his attention the issues of concern to the community so as to collaborate on the best way forward. His Excellency has never formally responded to our requested meeting. Instead, on three occasions when he happened to cross paths with IDPADA-G principals, he confirmed his awareness of the request and promised faithfully that the meeting would be scheduled. Five months later that meeting has not taken place. In the interim the conditions facing our community have deteriorated, in the face of which, in addition to not fulfilling his promise to meet with IDAPADA-G, his government has abruptly frozen IDPADA-G’s funding.
Surely His Excellency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must realize that our outreach to the international community is a response to being ignored by those who manage the affairs of this country. Handouts, tiny contracts, basketballs, hugs and dancing do not address the fundamental concerns of the Guyanese of African descent nor does the regurgitation of commitments made at international fora. In fact, they add insult to injury. We therefore reaffirm our call for meaningful dialogue with the Ali administration on the state of African Guyanese and our plan of action for the remaining years of this Decade and for the soon to be confirmed second UN International Decade for People of African Descent 2025 – 2034.
The text of IDPADA-G’s intervention at the First Session of the UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent is included below for your convenience.



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