Declaration of the African NGO Forum




Declaration of the African NGO Forum

Dakar (Senegal), 20th 21st January 2001


We, African NGOs, as well as African and other international civil society organizations, meeting in Dakar during the period (20th and 21st January 2001) for the preparation of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in South Africa in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 52/111,

REAFFIRM that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inalienable, irrespective of distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, gender, language, national or ethnic identity, social origin, disability, sexual orientation, age and religion.

RECOGNISE that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and have the capacity to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies and, that all human societies, especially African societies are based on the shared values of tolerance, solidarity and multiculturalism;

NOTE WITH CONCERN the persistence and increase of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all the continents, as well as the existence of contemporary forms of these phenomena;

ACKNOWLEDGE that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are mainly due to the ignorance and rejection of others as well as the will of some groups to dominate others for economic, political, social and cultural purposes;

CONSIDER that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are the roots of large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and that they often occur in the form of marginalisation, exclusion, pauperisation, ethnic cleansing and genocide; and as such, they constitute a threat to all human societies and to their fundamental values;

REAFFIRM that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance constitute gross violations of human rights and must be addressed with all appropriate means, including legal means;

CONSIDER that the slave trade, colonialism, policies of racial segregation and Apartheid are the most hideous forms of racism and racial and ethnic discrimination suffered by the African continent and people of African descent and which caused severe human, economic, political, social, psychological and cultural loss;

ACKNOWLEDGE the traumatic effects of historical trans-Atlantic slave trade, traditional and contemporary forms of slavery and bondage that continue to haunt the victims and arrest their ability to achieve their full potential as equal citizens of the world and condemn the attitudes, and indifference of the international community who continue to ignore the practice of contemporary forms of slavery;

CONSIDER that in Africa racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are mainly prompted by motives relating to language, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, skin complexion, and are directed against such people as refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, stateless persons, migrant workers, natives, ethnic minorities, HIV/AIDS affected people, the disabled;

RECALL the positive role played by the international community in supporting the African peoples in their struggle against Colonialism and Apartheid in the Southern African region;

NOTE that, despite the efforts of the United Nations Organisation to combat racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, these phenomena are still persistent and affect the lives of millions of Africans or persons of African origin in other parts of the world;

RECOGNISE that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination and xenophobia affect women differently, aggravate their living conditions, generating multiple forms of discrimination and limits or negates the full enjoyment and exercise of their human rights;

RECOGNISE with concern the increase in trafficking and sexual and other forms of exploitation of African women and girls. This victimisation is aggravated by migration and by armed conflict that engulf much of Africa at the present time;

WELCOME the addition of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination General Recommendations XXV on Gender Related Dimensions of Racial Discrimination, and we call on Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women to include a general recommendation on the Racial Dimensions of Gender Discrimination.

NOTE with great concern that many Africans infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS as well as those who are presumed to be infected, belong to vulnerable groups in which racism, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation and other forms of discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance have a negative impact and impede access to health and medication;

CONSIDER the special relationship that indigenous people have with their land as the basis of their physical and cultural existence and recalling that they have been victims of discrimination and environmental racism which has degraded their cultural systems, devastated their resources, and had led to political and economic disempowerment;

NOTE with concern that the benefits of globalisation are far outweighed by the negative effects such as the increased discrimination, marginalisation, and exclusion of African countries which is leading to a complete domination of the world's resources and wealth in the hands of a few races and excluding others;

RECOGNISE the important role to be played by African youth and young adults and welcome their involvement in the preparatory processes of the World Conference Against Racism and that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination and xenophobia impacts young men and women differently;

DENOUNCE environmental racism of which Africa is bearing a disproportionate and share of the burden of environmental deterioration represented by dumping of toxic wastes, dangerous work conditions, and dangerous and unregulated methods of extracting natural resources;

BEAR in mind the situation of vulnerability in which migrants frequently find themselves owing to their absence from their state of origin and to the difficulties they encounter because of differences in language, custom, gender and culture, as well as the economic and social difficulties and obstacles for the return of undocumented migrants and noting with grave concern that migrants have been turned into scapegoats for real or perceived economic or social problems,-

NOTE with concern that Africa is host to a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons, most of who are women and children, and that many of them are not protected by the relevant international, regional, sub-regional instruments or national legislation and consequently are more vulnerable to discrimination and xenophobia;

WE RECOMMEND that the African Regional Conference as well as the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance:

  1. Encourage all States to enact effective legal provisions for the punishment of acts of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, slavery, exclusion and related intolerance, and to take measures for the effective enforcement of those legislations;
  2. Recognise and declare that the slave trade, slavery and colonialism inflicted on the African Continent and the Diaspora constitute crimes against humanity;
  3. Accept the right of the African peoples of the Continent and in the Diaspora, to just and fair compensatory measures which include reparations, apologies, and pledges of non-repetition of outrages suffered by Africans, regardless of who the perpetrators were and call for international cooperation in the achievement of these goals;
  4. Request those African States, which have not done so, to ratify all conventions relating to the elimination of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, slavery and related intolerance, and to harmonize their national legislations with the aforesaid treaties;
  5. Encourage all States to implement national policies and plans of action aimed at fighting racism - institutional or otherwise - racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, slavery, exclusion and related intolerance, and to promote partnership relationships with civil society, mainly through national human rights institutions;
  6. Design educational curricula that are likely to promote acceptance of others, non-discrimination and mutual understanding among peoples and to strengthen solidarity;
  7. Request all States to take specific measures for the protection of vulnerable groups, especially women, children, youth, the disabled, people with HIV/AIDS, refugees, indigenous populations;
  8. Request all States to take measures to put an end to trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls, especially in cases of migration and armed conflicts;
  9. Recommend that the media adopt codes of conduct, which prohibit the diffusion of ideas propagating racial hatred and discrimination, and promote- the values of mutual respect and tolerance among all peoples;
  10. Encourage all States to take steps for strengthening the autonomy and capacity of African media to actively contribute to the production and dissemination of objective information and images about the continent and its people;
  11. Appeal to the international community to influence non-State actors, especially multinational corporations and armed groups, so that their activities do not contribute to fostering racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to take appropriate measures likely to put an end to the impunity of those actors;
  12. Call upon all African states to incorporate a gender perspective into all programmes of action against racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance in order to address the phenomenon of multiple discrimination against women;
  13. Strongly recommend the utilisation of the WCAR to create consensus around monitoring and remedying the intersectional discrimination suffered by women from subordinated racial and ethnic groups and urge all African states to submit to the various treaty bodies data disaggregated by gender, race and ethnicity and that gender should be mainstreamed into all the reporting processes;
  14. Urge that a comprehensive approach be used in the realisation and enforcement of basic rights, such as the right to health, education, and work, without discrimination against all those infected and affected by HIV, including those who are of same sex orientation;
  15. Recommend that all States assure full and free participation of indigenous people in all phases of decision making, particularly in relation to subjects of concern to them and in their determination of their own priorities for the development of their land, including control of their natural resources;
  16. Strongly urge the international community to take all necessary measures to maximize the possible benefits of globalisation through strengthening cooperation and the creation of a fair and just environment for increased opportunities for trade, economic growth, and sustainable development, global communication through the use of new technologies and increased intercultural exchange through the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity;
  17. Strongly urge the African governments to fully reinforce legislation and policies that protect society from dangerous practices that tend to pollute the environment and demand multinational corporations to abide by international safety norms and offer compensatory measures to affected communities and guarantee a healthy and sustainable existence for all members of society;
  18. Recommend the universal ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as encouraged in several resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and the General Assembly and review where necessary the modification of immigration policies, legislations and programs of the states of origin, transit, and destination which have racist content or effect, with a view to eliminating all discriminatory policies and practices against migrants;
  19. Take immediate action be taken to recognize the status of all refugees and literally displaced persons in all African countries and provide them with the necessary protection.
  20. Adopt measures to include youth participation at all levels of the preparatory processes leading to the WCAR.

World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

The full text of the Declaration can be found here:

Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
(updated 31 January 2002)

IMPORTANT: Get the background information here

And see the Int. NGO declaration as it was left at: