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Each year, the International Day for People of African Descent celebrates the diverse heritage and culture of people of African descent and their enormous contribution to our societies throughout history.

Yet, around the world, millions of people of African descent are still subject to racism and deeply entrenched and systemic racial discrimination.  That is why the United Nations continues to call for the full respect of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, for redress when these are violated, and for formal apologies and reparations for the egregious wrongs of slavery and colonialism.

In December, the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, whose establishment is an important achievement of the International Decade for People of African Descent, will hold its first session.  I urge all stakeholders, including people, communities and organizations of African descent, to participate and drive the work of the Forum forward.

The United Nations General Assembly has requested the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to draft a United Nations declaration on the promotion and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent.  The Forum will contribute to this critically important work.

It is essential that we continue to speak up – loudly and without fail – against any notion of racial superiority and that we work tirelessly to free all societies from the blight of racism.