Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 2, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to Chad and Costa Rica for facilitating today’s resolution.
The United States strongly supports the creation of the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. We fully engaged in the modalities to shape its mandate. The Biden-Harris Administration has put dismantling systemic racism and achieving racial justice at the forefront of our agenda. Because ultimately, racism is a problem in every society, and that means every society needs to grapple with it. Recently, you have seen us do this grappling across multilateral fora. At the 46th regular session of the Human Rights Council, we led a joint statement on combating racism and racial discrimination, signed by over 155 countries. We welcomed cooperation with the investigative mechanisms established in the Human Rights Council Resolution 47/21. And Secretary of State Blinken announced that we will facilitate visits to the United States by the Special Rapporteurs on Racism and on Minorities.
Mr. President, today, the United Nations has reached another important milestone on this collective journey: the establishment of a Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. This forum represents the full acknowledgement that, at long last, we are compelled to give voice to the dynamic challenges and aspirations of People of African Descent around the world. This forum is universal in its purview; and it is forward-looking in its agenda. It creates a new and necessary space, for all People of African Descent, to come together and build a better future.
There are a few details I want to be clear about.
First, we want to emphasize that our strong support for this resolution does not change the United States position on Durban. The creation of this forum is one step – among many – the UN System and Member States are taking to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance. So, the Permanent Forum is far bigger than any one issue, program, or conference. And so, it is inappropriate for the establishment of this forum to be housed under an individual conference agenda item. So, while this is being adopted under its current agenda item, our position on the Durban Declaration and Program of Action remains the same.
Second, we want to stress that the mandate of the Forum does not include the elaboration of a UN declaration. The purview of developing UN declarations remains with Member States. The Forum’s consideration of a UN declaration on People of African Descent would only be a part of the broader consideration by Member States.
Finally, Mr. President, racism and intolerance are sadly universal; our approach to eliminating them must be too. So, we will continue to defend all groups who face discrimination – including indigenous people, women and girls, LGBTQI+ persons, people with disabilities, and so many more. And we will elevate their perspectives, their rights, and their fights whenever and wherever we get a chance.
Thank you, Mr. President.