Are Black People Any Closer To The Goals Of The International Decade For People Of African Descent In Its Final Year?

Photo by Nora Yinuo Chen

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, with national, regional, and global actions. As proclaimed by the General Assembly, the theme for the International Decade is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.”

Among the objectives of the decade are “the promotion of respect, protection, and fulfillment of all human rights by people of African descent and the promotion of greater knowledge about our diverse heritage, culture, and contributions,” as outlined by the UN.

The decade has aimed to underscore the vital contribution made by people of African descent to our societies and “to propose concrete measures to promote their full inclusion and to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

But with the final year of this decade underway, are Black people any closer to the goals of The International Decade For People Of African Descent in its final year?

UN Secretary-General António Guterres  recently highlighted “the enormous impact” that both the African continent and people of African descent have had on the development, diversity, and richness of world civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind during the celebration of International Day for People of African Descent. However, he said: “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 realizing their full human rights.” 

Based on the “recognition, justice, and development” theme for the decade, let’s take a look at what strides have been made and what challenges still exist. 


There has been increased recognition and awareness of the human rights issues faced by people of African descent, with efforts to combat racial discrimination and promote equality gaining momentum at national, regional, and global levels. However, despite progress, systemic racism, racial profiling, and discrimination continue to disproportionately affect Black individuals and communities in various aspects of life, including education, employment, healthcare, and criminal justice. Structural barriers and institutionalized racism remain significant obstacles to the full realization of human rights for people of African descent.

Promotion of Culture and Contributions

Efforts to promote the diverse heritage, culture, and contributions of people of African descent have seen some advancements, including initiatives to celebrate Black history, arts, and achievements. There is growing recognition of the importance of preserving and honoring Black culture and heritage. Yet, cultural appropriation, the erasure of Black history from schools, and the marginalization of Black voices persist, highlighting the need for greater representation, inclusivity, and equity in cultural spaces and narratives.

Justice and Development

Progress has been made in addressing disparities in access to justice, economic opportunities, and development initiatives for people of African descent. However, persistent socio-economic inequalities, disproportionate poverty rates, and limited access to resources continue to hinder the full development and empowerment of Black communities. Structural barriers, institutional discrimination, and historical injustices contribute to ongoing challenges in achieving justice and equitable development.

The enduring challenges faced by people of African descent have led some human rights experts to propose a second International Decade for African People, starting in 2025. These 13 experts who The Human Rights Council appointed believe that a declaration of a second decade would indicate a continued commitment to combating racism and intolerance and would provide the framework for sustained advocacy and action to advance the rights and well-being of Black communities globally.

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