The Department of State Promotes the International Decade for People of African Descent in the Western Hemisphere
“Even as we each embrace our own beautiful, unique, and valid versions of our blackness, remember the tie that does bind us as African Americans -- and that is our particular awareness of injustice and unfairness and struggle…We cannot be ignorant of history.”
- President Barack Obama
People of African descent are present in every country in Latin America and the Caribbean comprising more than 200 million, or about 30 percent of the region. They face long-standing hurdles stemming from inter-generational cycles of poverty, isolation, exclusion, and discrimination. People of African descent often have less access to education and basic health services – especially among women and children – than the general population in Latin America.
The Department of State leads bilateral initiatives to address inequality and protect and promote the human rights of people of African descent. These initiatives include:
- U.S. –Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality (JAPER) calls upon both governments to collaborate in education, equal access to employment and economic opportunities, equal protection under the law, racial disparities in health, and environmental justice;
- U.S. –Colombian Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE) shares best practices and implements programs to address social barriers that affect Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and promotes solutions to racial and ethnic discrimination in the United States and Colombia; and
- U.S. –Uruguay Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality and Social Inclusion utilizes the Department’s cooperation and exchange of best practices to promote the equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability, and foster an environment of peace, democracy, and prosperity throughout the region.
The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) is committed to leading the Department of State’s efforts to commemorate the United Nations designated International Decade for people of African Descent (Decade), observed from 2015 to 2024. The Decade provides a framework for the United Nations, member states, and civil society to implement activities that promote recognition, justice, and development for people of African descent. The Decade is also an opportunity for discourse on U.S. civil rights, highlighting progress and persistent challenges.
WHA created the Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit (RESIU) in 2010 to support the action plans on racial and ethnic equality. RESIU serves as WHA’s clearinghouse on social inclusion issues and employs an intersectional approach to engage women, youth, and LGBTI persons in communities of African descent. RESIU also coordinates a Decade working group with representatives from the Department and U.S. embassies, to identify opportunities and new resources to support the Decade.