Remarks at the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent Item 5: Thematic Discussion: Pan-Africanism for Dignity, Justice, and Peace

Desirée Cormier Smith
U.S. Special Representative
New York, New York
May 31, 2023


The United States has the second largest population of people of African descent outside of the continent of Africa – second only to Brazil. We acknowledge the very real and ongoing challenges we face in our own country to fully address the long and lingering legacies of the enslavement of Africans and their descendants and to close the gap between our stated ideals and the lived reality for Black Americans. The United States also acknowledges that our government has not always played a constructive role in and must do more in combating neocolonial structural racism.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to working together with the global community to create a more just and equitable world. This is why in September 2022 at the General Assembly, President Biden, for the first time, announced a forwarding-leaning position on the expansion of the permanent and non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council, including a call for permanent seats for Africa, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. And the President affirmed that “the time has come for this institution to become more inclusive so that it can better respond to the needs of today’s world.” We have also publicly expressed our support for the African Union to join the G20, because we see Africa as an indispensable partner whose leadership is key to addressing today’s challenges. A strong Africa is good for people of African descent everywhere – including in the United States.

[And, as part of our commemoration of the International Decade for People of African Descent, the U.S. facilitated an exchange program that brought together 91 leaders of African descent from the U.S. and around the world working to empower and uplift their communities. The program – the first of its kind – culminated the launch of a Global African Descendant Network (GADN) that will continue to foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas on how to support the economic empowerment and political participation of communities of African descent in the U.S. and globally.]

During the 2022 U. S.-Africa Leaders Summit, President Biden also signed a historic executive order to establish the first ever President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States. The Council will encourage efforts to advance equity and opportunity for the African Diaspora in the U.S., – which includes the descendants of enslaved Africans, and will continue to encourage efforts to strengthen cultural, social, political, and economic ties between African communities, the global African Diaspora, and the United States. President Biden will launch the Council this summer and we expect that recommendations from the Council will also include suggestions for continued U.S. engagement with this august body.

As Vice President Harris said during her recent trip to Ghana, “the fates of America and the continent of Africa are interconnected and interdependent” – and that is especially true for Black America.

Thank you.