January 8, 2023 ceremony where U.S. presented $9 million in military supplies to the Somali National Army (Photo: courtesy AFRICOM Facebook page)
The Black Alliance for Peace AFRICOM Watch Bulletin discusses the first session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and provides updates on the latest news from the African continent.
This article was originally published in the Black Alliance for Peace website.
The United Nations recently held the first session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, Switzerland. From December 5-8, more than 600 delegates from UN member states, UN structures, and civil society took the floor to call for global recourse and the institutional protection of human rights for Africans all over the world.
Established in August 2021, during the 7th year of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent—spanning 2015 to 2024—the Permanent Forum will act as an advisory body to the UN Human Rights Council. The UN General Assembly declared the Forum also will serve as “a consultative mechanism for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders” and “platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent.”
The convening consisted of international and virtual pre-events and side events that discussed the human rights situation of Africans on the continent, as well as Africans in Europe, and what we call “Nuestra América,” the landmass encompassing what is now known as Canada to the tip of Chile. Representatives from the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) and BAP’s U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) attended the December convening to:
engage in political struggles around the establishment of this forum—which are discussed in this month’s interview;
reach out to and build international structures (significant numbers of folks from the global South were in attendance); and
focus on issues of militarization and its impact on African people.
BAP and the USOAN emphasize the increased militarization of the African continent and Nuestra América, as well as its implications for resistance efforts by local communities and activists, as a key part of the war on African people. We seek to build the mass movement necessary to defeat it.
U.S. Out of Africa: Voices from the Struggle
AFRICOM Watch Bulletin speaks with Mama Efia Nwangaza, who is the Founder/Director of the Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, member of the Black Belt Human Rights Coalition Criminal Punishment System Sub-Committee as well as the Black Alliance for Peace, and a veteran of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC):
AFRICOM Watch Bulletin: What are your thoughts on the Permanent Forum?
Efia Nwangaza: The Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, December 5-8, 2022, Geneva, is the United States’ and other European countries’—former colonizers and enslavers—effort to control today's Bandung-like global reparations-centered freedom movement, as evidenced by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA). The Forum, as presently constituted, is a mechanism designed to waylay, blunt and bury the DDPA with hand-picked gatekeepers and the racist slur of “anti-semitism.”
In Durban, South Africa, the world—meaning governments and civil society—reached a consensus and issued the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA). The world declared colonialism, slavery, apartheid, and genocide crimes against humanity, without statute of limitations and [with] a basis for reparations.
In 2001, the United States, led by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, walked out of the Durban World Conference Against Racism. The U.S. and other European countries—former colonizers—worked to prevent the global consensus that was reached and, having failed, continue to work to undermine and bury it.
AWB: Who are the main players in the Permanent Forum?
EN: The Forum is composed of 10 members; five nominated by states and five by the president of the Human Rights Council, “in consultation with civil society.” Here, “civil society” is not limited to people of African descent, as is the case with the members of the [United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues].
While the U.S. described how it pressured governments to vote for its pick, Justin Hanford, little or nothing else is known about the rest's appointment. It is located in Geneva, in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), instead of the more accessible New York, under the more appropriate Economic and Social Council.
The chair, Epsy Campbell-Barr, is a former vice president of Costa Rica, one of the world's smallest countries and [containing] an even smaller number of people of African descent; little more than 400,000. The vice chair is Alice Ange'le Nkom of Cameroon. She is the first woman admitted to practice law in Cameroon and is president of the Cameroonian Association for Defence of Homosexuality, co-chairperson of the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, and a member of the National Democratic Institute International Working Group. The rapporteur [an independent human rights expert whose expertise is called upon by the United Nations to report or advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective] is Michael McEachrane, of Sweden, who calls himself a “mixed race, academic and activist.” As of 2016, there were 110,758 citizens of African nations residing in Sweden.
Justin Hansford, U.S. member/Pan-Euro representative is director of the Howard University Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. He, like Clarence Thomas, enjoys the good will that comes from the use of Thurgood Marshall's name. Hansford, presenting himself as a Black “liberator,” dismissed the DDPA saying, “I was 16 years old when it was written.” He reportedly “believes he can get a better deal;” apparently under the ruse of “Sustainable Development Goals.”
AWB: What were your contributions to the convening?
EN: I publicly reprimanded Justin Hansford for trying to gaslight me and others when the chair attempted to refuse to take floor responses to McEachrane's attempt to limit DDPA relevance in his “interim” summary of the Forum's future work. “The DDPA will be applied to the extent it applies to people of African descent,” he said. His opening statement is attached.
I challenged Forum participants—in-person and virtually,—to read the DDPA. Admonished them to not let fancy, obscure language, lack of information, age, experience, and a short-term promise (Sustainable Development Goals [SDG]) of an immediate bowl of porridge cause us to betray our peoples. All were challenged to fully claim, affirm, and assert the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as our human right of self-determination.
I reminded them, “The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is the heart and soul of this Forum, without the DDPA this is nothing more than a free trip and a talk fest. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is our lifeline and that of generations unborn. HOLD ON TO IT—BLACK POWER! BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL! BLACK POWER! BLACK POWER to BLACK PEOPLE!!! ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!” The crowd roared and gave two standing ovations. Black Power and the call for fidelity to the DDPA rang out throughout the remaining days.
AWB: Thank you for your insights and analysis!
You can hear more about the Permanent Forum from Mama Efia and other advocates who attended the first session in Geneva during a webinar titled, The African Diaspora Convenes on the World Stage & Calls for Reparatory Justice, hosted by The Human Rights Cities Alliance, on Thursday, January 19 at 6:30 p.m. (EST) / 3:30 p.m. (Pacific).
News and Analysis
White House Summit With African Leaders Results in Empty Promises
December 20, 2022 by Abayomi Azikiwe
A $55 billion package from the United States cannot regain ground lost to China and Russia on the continent and criticisms among the people and those in government are growing over the role of AFRICOM and occupying French military forces.
Episode 178: Onwards to Multipolarity
January 11, 2023 by CODEPINK Radio
From our unipolar world under U.S. hegemony, transition to multipolarity is inevitable and ensures the greatest chance for peace. In this episode, we hear about the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Sylvie Ndongmo, Brother Imani Umoja, Dr. Gnaka Lagoke, and Colonel Ann Wright.
U.S. Airstrikes in Somalia Increased By 30% in 2022
January 8, 2023 by Dave DeCamp
In 2022, Biden ordered the deployment of up to 500 troops in Somalia and stepped up airstrikes as the U.S.-backed Mogadishu-based government began an offensive against al-Shabaab.
The Hope of a Pan-African-Owned and Controlled Electric Car Project Is Buried for Generations to Come: The Fifty-Second Newsletter
December 29, 2022 by Vijay Prashad
The United States government held the US-Africa Leaders Summit in mid-December, prompted in large part by its fears about Chinese and Russian influence on the African continent.
The Hidden Truth Behind AFRICOM – US Africa Command
December 22, 2022 by Lee Camp
Under AFRICOM—a program that the Pentagon will barely even admit exists—the U.S. military is involved in assassinations, bombings, torture, surveillance, the killing of civilians, blowback deaths of U.S. soldiers and—of course—cover-ups.
Why One Organization Dubbed the U.S.-Africa Summit the ‘Meeting of Uncle Tom and Uncle Sam’
December 20, 2022 by Julie Varughese
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit was clearly set up to obscure the real U.S. role in Africa and give legitimacy to the continuing U.S. plunder of African resources, exploitation of African people and military domination of the African continent.
U.S. & Europe Want to Make Africa Cold War Battleground Against Russia & China w/ Mikaela Nhondo Erskog
November 30, 2022 by Rania Khalek’s Dispatches
The United States and Europe have labeled Africa as NATO’s “Southern Neighborhood” and are using AFRICOM as a mechanism to control the continent under the guise of protecting it from “malign” Chinese and Russian influence.
If you are interested in getting more directly involved in the fight to liberate Africa, please consider joining the U.S. Out of Africa Network.
No compromise, no retreat,
BAP’s U.S. Out of Africa Network
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