Guyana supports call for 2nd International Decade for People of African Descent

…as Govt continues to work towards advancing lives of Afro-Guyanese

Guyana on Tuesday joined human rights experts and issued a call for a second International Decade for People of African Descent starting from 2025.
This position was confirmed by Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond, as she addressed delegates at the Opening of the Third Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond along with Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton, Guyana National Reparations Committee Chairman Eric Phillips, and Ethnic Relations Commissioners Deon Dick (Ras Khafra) and Neaz Subhan among Guyana’s representatives at the Third Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, Switzerland

In December 2013, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 the International Decade for the People of African Descent, however, there have been general calls for an extension to this period.
According to a statement issued by UN, during celebrations of the International Day for People of African Descent in 2023, human rights experts emphasised that more action is needed to combat racism and other intolerance.

Additionally, they stressed that more than ever, the world urgently needs humanity to unite and collaborate in a spirit of equality and non-discrimination. Achieving this goal means that inequalities within and among countries will need to be drastically decreased, and the legacies of colonialism, apartheid, enslavement and genocide effectively resolved, they added.
According to the release, an extension will allow for this goal to be achieved along with other objectives including promoting respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent, and greater knowledge of their diverse heritage, culture and contributions to society.
During her address at the Third Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, Walrond disclosed that Guyana supports the efforts of said human rights experts and remains committed to ensuring that all Guyanese benefit from the country’s wealth, especially those of African descent.
She posited that the new decade represents a significant global effort towards achieving racial justice, equality, and empowerment.
“Guyana looks forward to contributing to the efforts toward improving the conditions of people of African descent both by supporting the work of this Forum and by continuing to craft and implement programmes that will redound to the benefit of Guyanese of African Descent,” Walrond said.
The minister added that, Caribbean Community (Caricom) has been at the forefront of demanding reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans, a position Guyana remains fully committed to.
She explained that a National Reparations Committee has already been established, within the framework of a 10-point plan agreed by the CARICOM.
“Guyana as a multi-cultural and multiethnic society is mindful and keen to ensure that our population in its entirety enjoys the best quality of life the country can afford. In that regard we are mindful of the mandate of this permanent forum as set forth in the United Nations General Assembly resolution 75/340” Walrond added.
Since assuming office in August 2020, the Guyana Government has been working to improve the lives of Afro-Guyanese.
In 2023, government launched the Association of People of African Descent (APAD) with the aim of fostering unity among Afro-Guyanese communities, driving positive social change, and empowering all members to actively participate in shaping Guyana’s future.
Further, the association’s mission is to bring together Afro-Guyanese organisations, create a co-operative community, and eventually develop into a full-fledged representative body, which will work alongside the government to achieve its mandate.
Moreover, last year the Guyana Government handed over some $63 million in funds to 35 African cultural groups in Guyana for projects in a wide variety of sectors as well as initiatives that seek to empower women.
Each group got just over $1.8 million.
The groups that received funding had previously submitted proposals for projects in a number of areas, including agriculture and purchasing of agricultural equipment; business; cultural training in drumming, teaching craft, cooking traditional foods and garment construction among others.
Some groups also committed to work in literacy, women’s empowerment and via education in African and Afro-Guyanese history.
The distribution of the grants came on the heels of the Guyana Government halting funding to the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G), citing the mismanaging of funds.
Instead, the government has decided to distribute the money directly to the African cultural groups in order to achieve the objectives of the decade.