|REPORT OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN DESCENDANTS CAUCUS WORK
NGO FORUM and WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM
28 AUGUST - 8 SEPTEMBER 2001
Prepared: October 2001
The African and African Descendants Caucus (AADC) convened at each of
the preparatory meetings for the World Conference Against Racism in
Geneva (May 2000, May and August 2001), in the regional preparatory
meetings in Santiago, Chile (December 2000), and Strasbourg (Fall, 2000)
and in the intersessional working group meeting in Geneva in March 2001.
A major development in the ability of Africans and African
Descendants to independently organize was the international African and
African Descendants Conference held in Vienna, Austria in April 2001.
This historic conference, attended by representatives covering most of
the Black World, was convened by African and African Descendants in a
concerted effort to refute the efforts at Strasbourg and the attempts by
the Western European countries to subvert the work and unity of the
Africans and African Descendants manifesting itself in the international
and regional preparatory meetings. The Vienna Conference produced a
groundbreaking declaration which eloquently articulated and delineated
many key positions which would be read and advocated by African and
African Descendants throughout the WCAR process. Without question the
Vienna Declaration’’s unique and unadulterated, sharpened, and
keenly intellectual expression of the key issues and programmes of
action for Africans and African Descendants was used as guidance by the
Drafting Committee of the AADC and would inform the content of many of
the position papers of the AADC. In addition, an interim coordinating
committee was elected which provided coordination for the dissemination
of the Vienna Declaration and on-going dynamic leadership within the
The African and African Descendants Caucus produced a Declaration
and Program of Action in Santiago. A document also was produced at
Although face-to-face discussions were the primary form of Caucus
work, Caucus members communicated between meetings through listserves as
well as other forms of communication.
The Caucus grew in number and effectiveness over the 15 months prior
to the NGO Forum and WCAR in Durban, South Africa. By the August
preparatory meeting in August 2001 in Geneva, the African and African
Descendants Caucus was truly representative and spoke as the voice of
Africans and African Descendants in Africa and throughout the Diaspora.
The Caucus was initially organized in May 2000 by the December 12th
Movement based in the United States and with extensive international
experience, particularly with the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The
Caucus leadership was reconstituted at each of the preparatory meetings.
The Caucus organization and leadership was based in representation from
Africa, Europe, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Canada and the
United States. A number of people from each of these regions played
significant roles in the Caucus.
At the 3rd PrepCom in August 2001, the Caucus determined
that at the WCAR there would be a coordinating committee composed of a
representative from Africa, Alioune Tine; a representative from Europe,
Maluza Martin; a youth representative, Amani Olubanjo Buntu from Norway
now living in South Africa; a representative from Canada, David Onyalo
who could not serve and Sandra Carnegie- Douglas was substituted; a
representative from Latin America, Romero Rodriquez who designated
Humberto Brown to represent him; a representative from the drafting
committee, Barbara Arnwine, and a representative from the United States,
Adjoa A. Aiyetoro. These representatives were selected during the last
two meetings of the 3rd PrepComm.
During the first meeting of the coordinating committee it was
determined that the December 12th Movement should be on the
coordinating committee given their work during the preparatory process,
as well as previous work with the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Adjoa
Aiyetoro was asked to email Roger Wareham requesting that he serve on
the Coordinating Committee. The return email indicated the December 12th
Movement would not reach Durban until August 29, and no definitive
response was received on participation on the coordinating committee.
The Coordinating Committee met for the first time in Durban on 26
August 2001. The Caucus met on 27 August, 29 August, 1 September. It met
daily from 3 September through 7 September. Alioune Tine, Humberto Brown
and Bahiyah Cabral facilitated the meetings, with the exception of 27
August when Maluza Martin facilitated instead of Alioune Tine, and 7
September when Adjoa Aiyetoro facilitated instead of Humberto.
There were two committees that functioned throughout most of the
preparatory process and in Durban: Drafting Committee and Strategy and
Lobbying Committee. Bahiyah Cabral and Barbara Arnwine facilitated the
Drafting Committee throughout the preparatory process. Bahiyah Cabral
and Linda Roots facilitated this committee in Durban since Barbara
Arnwine was on the NGO Drafting Committee representing the Americas.
Adelbagi also was a member of the NGO Drafting Committee. Adjoa Aiyetoro
facilitated the Strategies and Lobbying Committee throughout the
preparatory process. At the NGO Forum and WCAR government meeting the
facilitation team was composed of LaJune Lange, Kafra Kambon, Adjoa
Aiyetoro, Makani Themba and Deleso Washington.
The Caucus engaged in a number of activities during the NGO Forum and
the government conference. Its consistent presence and message was a
major factor in the victory we experienced in the documents that were
produced in both meetings. After returning from the NGO Forum and
government meeting of the WCAR, many of us learned that people were
receiving emails that did not report on the activities of the Caucus or
that were inaccurate in depicting the governments’’ and NGOs’’
activities. Recommendation: In future meetings a committee should be
developed to transmit daily summaries of the work of the Caucus and the
Caucus’’s analysis of the meeting activities.
Adjoa, Michelle (from Canada) and Muntu Matisimela prepared an
orientation package for Africans and African Descendants who had not
participated in the preparatory process. This package was distributed at
all Caucus meetings during the NGO Forum. Attempts to get this package
translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese were unsuccessful. Recommendation:
Translation services be developed at the beginning of the meeting
process and made an integral part of the work.
A press conference was held on Wednesday, 29 August. Our media
committee was composed of Molly Secours, Makani Themba and Deo
Hakizimana, Linda Roots was the moderator and the speakers were Bahiyah
Cabral, Alioune Tine and Humberto Brown. It was held in the Africa Tent
and approximately 40 people were in attendance. This was especially good
since Kofi Annan was speaking at the plenary of the NGO Forum, held
immediately following the press conference and there was a Middle East
demonstration during the press conference.
The African and African Descendants Caucus organized a traditional
Homecoming Ceremony for African Descendants, under the leadership of
Sally Cuffee and Amani Olubanjo Buntu. The ceremony was held at the Blue
Lagoon Beach in Durban on 30 August and was attended by more than 300
The African and African Descendants Caucus was asked to designate a
speaker to present on the topic of reparations at the Heads of State
Roundtable held 31 August, the first day of the government conference.
Adjoa Aiyetoro made that presentation.
Caucus members, including Sandra Carnegie Douglas and Ray Winbush,
were rappateurs and moderators of several key NGO Forum Commissions:
Africans and African Descendants, Slavery and the Slave Trade and
Reparations. Caucus members were also speakers in these Commissions.
Barbara Arnwine was on the NGO Drafting Committee. The language of the
NGO documents is quite strong on these matters due primarily to our
leadership in the Commissions and on the Drafting Committee.
Caucus leadership participated in briefings of Members of the United
States Congressional Black Caucus who attended the government conference
to obtain their support on reparations and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade
and slavery as crimes against humanity. Caucus representatives also
participated in meetings with GRULAC, President Wade of Senegal, the
Ambassador from the Sudan and its delegation, and David Commisiong from
Barbardos to discuss support for the Caucus’’s priority issues.
Caucus members also met with representatives from delegations of Kenya,
Nigeria and Ghana.
The Caucus supported the Afro-Brazilian demonstration held on 3
September. We joined in the march and spoke at its press conference.
On 5 September the Caucus made an intervention during the plenary
session of the WCAR government meeting. The statement was drafted by a
committee composed of representatives from Europe, Africa, Canada, Latin
America and the United States. It was read by Ms. Annie Davies from
The Caucus organized the largest demonstration held during the NGO
Forum and government conference on 5 September: a candlelight vigil with
the theme United Against Global Racism and the slogan of
Reparations Now. Danny Glover was the celebrity speaker. Each of the
regions were represented by a speaker. There were also speakers from the
Women’’s Caucus, Youth Caucus and other caucuses. Demonstrators
included Africans and African Descendants, Romas, Dalits, Europeans and
others. We were the only demonstration barred from crossing the street
and standing immediately in front of the gates to the ICC where the
governments were meeting. When someone yelled at the police, "we
want them to hear us," a policeman yelled back: "they hear
you, trust me, they hear you."
On 6 September we heard that the African Group of States and others
might be bending to the pressure to not allow the conference to break
down over the issues of crimes against humanity and reparations. About
30 of us, representing Africa and the Diaspora, came together on a
grassy hill outside the ICC. We strategized and came up with a joint
statement from the African and African Descendants Caucus and the Durban
400, a group led by the December 12th Movement that until 6
September had chosen to work independently. This statement urged the
governments to not sacrifice language on slavery and the slave trade as
crimes against humanity and reparations for the victims.
DEVELOPMENT OF ONGOING AFRICAN AND AFRICAN DESCENDANTS ORGANIZATION
On 7 September we met to finalize the plans for moving beyond Durban.
A committee, chaired by Muntu Matsimela, had presented a report to the
Caucus on 6 September that was discussed by the Caucus. The general
sense on 6 September was that the Caucus wanted to form an interim
steering committee to develop a comprehensive proposal for a permanent
structure. On 7 September, the Caucus voted to develop an Interim
Steering Committee composed of 6 representatives from Africa, 3 from
Europe, 3 from South America, 3 from Central America, 3 from the
Carribean, 3 from Canada and 3 from the United States. There was a lot
of discussion about the number of representatives from areas in the
Diaspora. It was agreed that people should understand that this was only
an Interim Steering Committee. This Interim Steering Committee would be
responsible for developing a proposed structure and function of an
ongoing body, and considering factors necessary to determine the
representative numbers for the ongoing body. Barbara Arnwine took the
responsibility of receiving the names and contact information for the
persons chosen to represent each of the areas designated and sending
them the first communication scheduling the first meeting. She also took
responsibility for circulating to the entire Caucus membership this
summary of Caucus activity at the WCAR and NGO Forum in Durban.
A proposal was submitted in this meeting to have a meeting of African
and African Descendants in Barbados in August 2002. The August date
appeared to be problematic for many people present. The Interim Steering
Committee was charged with determining how to address the proposal to
have a meeting of the entire Caucus approximately one year from the
Durban meeting in September or October 2002.
The Interim Steering Committee is to meet in November by conference
call and to have its proposal distributed to members of the Caucus by 15
March 2002. The members will have 60 days to provide feedback to the
Interim Steering Committee and a final report will be distributed by
June 1, 2002.
As the policeman said, they heard us. On 8 September, although many
of our Caucus members were in route home, a number of us were in the ICC
when we heard the news of the victory. In a 7-page document the slave
trade, especially the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, and slavery were called
crimes against humanity and States urged to develop measures to combat
the consequences of these crimes that continue to this day. Although, as
Ambassador Amina Mohamed from Kenya said, this is an imperfect document,
it speaks for the first time ever in a United Nations document to the
crimes committed against Africa and Africans in the Diaspora during the
TransAtlantic Slave Trade and slavery. This document can be used by us
to build support throughout the world for acknowledgment of the crimes
and reparations to Africans and African Descendants who continue to
suffer the consequences.