UNARC Accomplishments 2022

Overview of Accomplishments:

Overview of Accomplishments:

UNARC built a strong, functional coalition by having 10 official meetings this year with translation in the four most commonly spoken languages for Africans and people of African descent (Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English). The coalition provided translation in Portuguese for an official private meeting with the new mechanism (EMLER) and arranged for coalition members to meet and speak directly to the UN experts. UNARC held two virtual side events at the UN Human Rights Council where directly impacted families were able to share their stories with EMLER and advocates were able to speak to the complexities of effectively addressing systemic racism. These UNARC events were attended by OHCHR, EMLER, a CERD committee member, an OAS expert, and a former Special Rapporteur on Racism. In addition to that, UNARC funded eight campaigns of grassroots groups working on the ground to bring a human rights lens to their already impactful work. UNARC is working to close the language and information gaps that persist in keeping civil society from effectively engaging in UN processes. The coalition has launched a multilingual website where advocates and officials alike can go to learn more about the work that the coalition is doing and the tools that it provides. UNARC also supported members in making oral statements at the HRC and the UNARC fellow read the coalition’s joint statement during the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with EMLER and OHCHR. EMLER selected one of UNARC’s members, Collette Flanagan of Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) whose son was killed by police in 2013, as one of two directly impacted communities on the panel for the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue and Jurema Werneck, director of Amnesty International in Brazil. For the first time, directly impacted people were sitting on the same panel, and given equal time, with EMLER and OHCHR, to take part in a debate on systemic racism and the excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies against Africans and people of African descent.

UNARC has established itself as the “go-to” coalition for EMLER, OHCHR, and UNHRC when it comes to issues of systemic racism and police violence against Africans and people of African descent. More and more grassroots groups are utilizing the coalition space to advocate at the UN and are working towards closing the information and language access gaps. Groups are starting to see themselves reflected in the UN spaces and they are able to use that lens effectively in their advocacy on the ground.

 

See more details on these activities below.

UNARC provided small grants to directly fund eight campaigns from coalition members over the summer. The effort prioritized those campaigns using an intersectional lens to look at the problem of police/state violence and systemic racism against people of African descent. An overview of these campaigns spotlight the unique challenges within communities according to region, but also the striking similarities rooted in anti-blackness and histories of slavery, colonization, and dominance.

This first powerful virtual side event was led by 6 mothers and family members of people killed by police as well as advocates working on the ground. The event was primarily conducted in Spanish and Portuguese with translation provided in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Afrodesendant panelists from Colombia, Brazil, Uganda, Nigeria, Spain, and the United States spoke to EMLER, the High Commissioner’s team and States at the HRC  about their loved ones whose lives were taken by law enforcement. The event was moderated in Spanish by Iki Yos who discussed what it is like to be a Black Transgender nonbinary person navigating the police in Venezuela and Spain. Here is the concept note, the flyers in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, the link to the event on our website, and the video

This second event focused on the issue of systemic racism and the root causes of police violence. This side event aimed to break down silos and to open pathways to concrete solutions that are informed both by the academic research, but also the critical lived experiences and research happening in impacted communities. Experts spoke about their definitions and thoughts on systemic and structural racism and how EMLER, OHCHR, and the UN as a whole can approach this issue in a way that is effective without defaulting to a narrower discussion about police/state violence and individual cases.  This event was also attended by the chairperson of EMLER who discussed EMLER’s perspective and approaches to systemic racism. It also included a representative from OHCHR, a former Special Rapporteur on Racism, and a current member of the UN CERD Committee, but was led by human rights advocates on the ground addressing systemic racism and its very real impacts locally. See the event here and video and see the flyers here in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. See the concept note here.

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue

OHCHR and EMLER selected one of our coalition members, Collette Flanagan of Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) whose son was killed by police  in 2013, as one of two directly impacted communities  on the panel for the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue (EID). On October 3, states at the UN Human Rights Council, the acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, the chairperson of the Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement (EMLER), Collette Flanagan and Jurema Werneck, director of Amnesty International in Brazil took part in a debate on systemic racism and the excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies against Africans and people of African descent. UNARC prepared a that was read by our fellow, Lamar Bailey during the session and coalition member ACLU also submitted a statement.

UNARC Member Reports (Inputs)

UNARC Member Reports (Inputs)

EMLER is required to prepare, on an annual basis, a written report and to present it jointly with the OHCHR at the Human Rights Council. In preparation for their first report, the EMLER mechanism put out a call for inputs with a deadline of 10 June 2022.

We created a template to support members in submitting reports and held meetings to clarify how to use the template and assisted members in preparing three reports that were then sent to EMLER. The reports were from Panama and Brazil, and as well as a third report that was an unprecedented joint effort by member organizations from Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Colombia, and the United States.

At the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), we  supported coalition member LabJaca to deliver a joint statement highlighting the disproportionate killing of Brazil’s Black population, in particular the massacre in Jacarezinho last year. The joint statement provided several actions the Brazilian government should take to end police impunity and fight systemic racism in police actions.  At the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), we  supported coalition member Implementation Team in Spain for the Decade to deliver a joint statement, supported by 108 organisations in Europe, the Americas and Africa, denouncing the grave human rights violations against African persons at the southern borders of Spain and in particular in Ceuta and Melilla.  

At the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), we supported the UNARC coalition to deliver a joint statement during the debate with EMLER and High Commissioner, highlighting UNARC’s position on the reports and urging the HRC and States to fight entrenched and systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent.

At the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, we supported coalition member the European Network against Racism to deliver a joint statement at the HRC. The joint statement was supported by over 60 organizations and called the Council’s attention to the human rights situation of Africans and other racialized groups following reports of discrimination and violence at EU borders.

At the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, we supported coalition member ILEX Accion Juridica to deliver a joint statement calling upon the Colombian government to guarantee the Afro-Colombian population’s right to be statistically visible in official information sources.

At the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, we supported coalition member Global Black to deliver a joint statement calling on States to expose and oppose laws that curtail the ability to address racism and encourage countries to embrace history and data as evidence of a true commitment to build societies that are more just and equitable.

We supported coalition members to engage with the visit of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (WGEPAD) during their visit to Switzerland in January 2022. We prepared a submission on behalf of coalition member « CRAN (Carrefour de Réflexion et d’Action contre le Racisme anti Noir) Observatoire du Racisme anti Noir en Suisse ». The objective of the joint submission was to inform the preparation of the Experts’ visit to Switzerland including questions to raise with the Swiss authorities, places to visit and recommendations to make. ISHR organized jointly with coalition member CRAN (and the Pan African Women’s Association) a hybrid meeting in Geneva on 24 January 2022 for the Experts and civil society (HRDs and collectives working on anti-Black racism in Switzerland and victims of anti-Black systemic racism). The meeting provided an opportunity for directly impacted individuals and communities to voice their concerns, testimonies and recommendations for the WGEPAD. The statement and report of the WGEPAD following their visit significantly reflected the issues that were raised by coalition member CRAN and the civil society participants in the meeting. In its report , the WGEPAD expressed “its appreciation to civil society organizations, including Carrefour de Réflexion et d’Action contre le Racisme Anti-Noir, the Université Populaire Africaine en Suisse, the Pan African Women’s Association and the International Service for Human Rights, for their assistance in organizing virtual and physical meetings with people of African descent throughout the country”.  The report was considered by activists in Switzerland as an affirmation by the UN of the lived experiences of People of African Descent in Switzerland and summaries of it were disseminated widely in local and social media.

We supported coalition members to engage with the visit of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (WGEPAD) during their visit to Switzerland in January 2022. We prepared a submission on behalf of coalition member « CRAN (Carrefour de Réflexion et d’Action contre le Racisme anti Noir) Observatoire du Racisme anti Noir en Suisse ». The objective of the joint submission was to inform the preparation of the Experts’ visit to Switzerland including questions to raise with the Swiss authorities, places to visit and recommendations to make. ISHR organized jointly with coalition member CRAN (and the Pan African Women’s Association) a hybrid meeting in Geneva on 24 January 2022 for the Experts and civil society (HRDs and collectives working on anti-Black racism in Switzerland and victims of anti-Black systemic racism). The meeting provided an opportunity for directly impacted individuals and communities to voice their concerns, testimonies and recommendations for the WGEPAD. The statement and report of the WGEPAD following their visit significantly reflected the issues that were raised by coalition member CRAN and the civil society participants in the meeting. In its report , the WGEPAD expressed “its appreciation to civil society organizations, including Carrefour de Réflexion et d’Action contre le Racisme Anti-Noir, the Université Populaire Africaine en Suisse, the Pan African Women’s Association and the International Service for Human Rights, for their assistance in organizing virtual and physical meetings with people of African descent throughout the country”.  The report was considered by activists in Switzerland as an affirmation by the UN of the lived experiences of People of African Descent in Switzerland and summaries of it were disseminated widely in local and social media.

ISHR/UNARC advocacy on resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council:

ISHR/UNARC advocacy on resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council:

During the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council,  the Africa Group presented a resolution on racism called “From rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. UNARC drafted and proposed specific language in this resolution on treatment in migration and racism, the relationship between racial and gender discrimination, police violence and impunity, the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and reparations that were included in the final version of this resolution. It was the first time the resolution on racism at the HRC addresses migration policies The resolution was passed on October 7th with 32 votes in favor, 9 votes against and 6 abstentions. 

UNARC Informational Video: UNARC created an informational video which discusses the UN, the mechanism, and what grassroots groups can concretely gain from engagement with the coalition and EMLER. It begins with an Afrodescendant member from Spain, speaking about her experiences with police profiling in her community. She then discusses her work and advocacy and why she decided to engage with UNARC. Then the UNARC team explains how other members have benefited from engagement and outlines the work of the coalition. The video ends with the coalition member inviting other advocates to join the coalition. We are using the video as an informational tool for prospective and new UNARC members. The video has subtitles in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English and it was posted on our multilingual website.

EMLER Regional Visit in South America:

EMLER Regional Visit in South America:

UNARC coalition members with EMLER experts Dr. Tracie L. Keesee and Juan E. Mendez

UNARC coordinated civil society participation in the first EMLER regional visit to South America.  From November 28 to December 2, governments, stakeholders, impacted people, and civil society met in Santiago de Chile with participants from 10 South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).

UNARC worked with its members in South America to coordinate the civil society side of the visit and to ensure that civil society’s inputs would concretely impact EMLER’s consultations with governments in South America. In total, UNARC coordinated the engagement of 33 member organizations; eight of those members attended in-person in Chile, and the remainder participated virtually. Family members of people killed by police were given special time to testify about their experiences and to offer concrete solutions.

UNARC Multilingual Website

The coalition’s multilingual website was officially launched on Nov 11, 2022 (though there was a soft launch during the summer of 2022). Officials from the UN and diplomats from around the world were alerted to the launch of the website via email and social media and we received feedback from EMLER itself. The website is available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese and includes information about the coalition, the United Nations, a toolbox, and a calendar.  The website also includes information on all of our members and the member campaigns that UNARC funded. Additionally, in the calendar, members can see important UN meetings  and there is a separate page for calls for inputs to make engagement more accessible. All relevant information about EMLER’s activities will continue to be located on the website. unarc.org.

Reports and Press Release:

After the EMLER consultations on data collection and the submission of inputs by coalition members, EMLER released its first report, simultaneously with OHCHR’s report. The reports (OHCHR and EMLER) were published in September 2022 which included translation in English, Spanish, and French. UNARC translated both reports into Portuguese and posted it on our website (OHCHR andEMLER). Once the reports were published, we prepared  summaries in all four languages and a document with the highlights from the EMLER and OHCHR reports which included quotes of interest, coalition members specifically mentioned in the reports, and elements mentioned by the coalition communications that were reflected in the report. 

In order to speak with a collective voice, the coalition met to craft the language of a press release where we agreed on shared goals, priorities, and expectations. 

UNARC Director Salimah K. Hankins, Esq. spoke at the UNESCO Global Forum Against Racism and Discrimination in Mexico City where she talked about the coalition and the importance of centering the experiences of impacted people in civic spaces