Race, Racism and the Law
|This page is part of much larger document. Please be sure to read the Overview, the Declaration-Guiding Principles, Programme of Action-Guiding Principles, and Programme of Action - Legal Measures which provide the context for understanding this page. Click here to Download Word Document.|
63. Africans and African Descendants share a common history shaped by the slave trade, slavery, conquest, colonisation and apartheid, all of which constitute crimes against humanity, and a common experience of anti-Black racism. We acknowledge that people of African descent live all over the world, although in many instances they have been renamed, suppressed and marginalized. On every continent African and African Descendants continue to suffer from racism, discrimination, doctrines and practices of racial supremacy, hate violence and related intolerance. It is the complexity and intersection of these historical and continuing common roots, experiences and struggles to overcome them, that bind Africans and African Descendants together as a world community.
64. We affirm that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the enslavement of Africans and African Descendants was a crime against humanity and a unique tragedy in the history of humanity, and that its roots and bases were economic, institutional, systemic and transnational in dimension.
65. We further acknowledge the negative impact of the Trans-Saharan and Trans-Indian Ocean Slave Trade and slavery.
66. We recognise that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and slavery, which constitute crimes against humanity, forced the brutal removal and the largest forced migration in history (over one hundred million), caused the death of millions of Africans, destroyed African civilizations, impoverished African economies and formed the basis for Africa's under-development and marginalization which continues to this date. We acknowledge that Africa was dismembered and divided among European powers, which created Western monopolies for the continued exploitation of African natural resources for the benefit of Western economies and industries.
67. We recognise also that part of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade continues unabated to this day, despite international agreements that condemn slavery, and that the trafficking of African men, women and children for forced labour and enslavement is still ongoing in Cameroon, Mauritania, Niger and Sudan whilst these and other forms of involuntary servitude of Africans and African Descendants have resulted in substantial and lasting economic, political and cultural damage to the continent. This form of exploitation is particularly damaging to African and African Descendant women, who are still victims of sexual trafficking and sexual exploitation.
68. We condemn the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, slavery and colonization as crimes against humanity. Whereas Western economic institutions criminally exploited Africans and their descendants, used criminally transported people of Africa as chattel and continued to breed Africans as chattel. Post-slavery African Descendants have endured official and de facto segregative policies of governments, affecting political, economic, educational, cultural and social rights, causing and legitimising theft of land and racial violence. African Descendants have suffered the loss of their culture, identities, and languages and have been victimised by the perpetuation of negative stereotypes, psychological damage, racial discrimination, economic disadvantage and the criminalisation of their peoples. These conditions have uniquely impacted African and African Descendant women whose bodies, familial roles and reproductive ability have been used as a tool of oppression and exploited for the production of economic wealth and whose forced labour under inhumane circumstances and the use of specific negative stereotypes all have been and continue to be used to maintain the subordinate position of African and African Descendant women at the bottom of the social, economic, cultural and political system.
69. We recognise that the development of Africa has been greatly impeded by the global imbalances in power created by the slave trade, slavery and colonialism as crimes against humanity and other forms of exploitation and is maintained and extended particularly by neo-colonial economic policies and practices including the pillage of human and material resources of Africa and the draining of its financial resources by foreign debt services. The legacy of these abhorrent crimes is manifested in wars, displacements and the precarious socio-economic situation in which Africans find themselves.
Programme of Action
230. We call on the Sub-commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights to establish a Working Group on African and African Descendants throughout the world.
231. We strongly call on the UN to establish, within one year from this World Conference Against Racism, an international tribunal to measure the extent of the damages resulting from the slave trade, slavery and colonialism on Africans and African Descendants. We call on the United Nations to establish and resource a world institute based in Africa and dedicated to research, fact finding and resource networking for Africans and African Descendants in the Diaspora.
232. We call on all States to recognise anti-Black racism as a form of racism with its own specificities that manifests itself particularly against Africans and African Descendants.
Race, Racism and American Law (1993).