January 15, 2009
GENEVA---Bob Brown, co-director of Pan-African Roots, arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on January 13, 2009, to attend the Eighth Session of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent which meets from January 12 to January 16, 2009. He is attending this Session as a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, an NGO with ECOSOC Consultative Status.
Hosted by the UN Human Rights Council, the Eighth Session focused on an assessment of the work of the Working Group since its creation, evaluated what has been done, and how, and determining where to go from here, as well as developed its programme of work for the future, including its meetings, country visits and participation in the build-up process for the Durban Review Conference which will be held in Geneva in April 2009.
The Session devoted a day of analysis of the situation of children of African descent. It identified and shared best practices in the struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, made suggestions about the Working Group's future programme of work, and made recommendations to be included in the Outcome Document which will be discussed and approved at the April 2009 Durban Review Conference.
Mr. Brown informed the Working Group about the Slavery Disclosure Ordinance in Chicago and other cities and about his historic and precedent-setting lawsuit to enforce them. He recommended that cities, counties, states/provinces, nations, regional and international organizations, and non-governmental organizations in every corner of Africa, the African Diaspora, and the World pass similar laws, resolutions, policies and regulations demanding the full disclosure of any and all slavery era records of any and all entities whom they do business with.
The 3rd World Conference against Racism declared that "slavery and the slave trade are crimes against humanity, and should have always been so." Mr. Brown informed the Working Group, that the majority of African People in the United States, and other corners of the world, do not agree with the latter part of this declaration.
He informed the Working Group that the UN Human Rights Council and they have an obligation to explain to World Humanity when, where, how and why slavery and the slave trade were prohibited and abolished in every country in the world; when and how they where declared crimes against humanity, and why this did not apply to African People.
The Regional Preparatory Meeting for Africa for the Durban Review Conference which met in Abuja, Nigeria from 24-26 August 2008, requested that the Human Rights Council organize a seminar or panel discussion on all aspects of the transatlantic slave trade provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the UN General Assembly resolutions 61/19 and 62/122, taking into consideration African Union initiatives on this issue, and include its findings and recommendations in the Preparatory Process and the Durban Review Conference.
The Representative of the South African Delegation to the Working Group's Eighth Session, on South Africa's and the Africa Group's behalf, requested yesterday, that grass-roots meetings be held in every corner of Africa and the African Diaspora.
Mr. Brown suggested that "The Evolution of the Global Prohibition Regime against the Slave Trade and Slavery" be included as a theme or issue in these seminars, panels and/or meetings.
Mr. Brown suggested that Chicago be one of these venues, during the week of March 25, 2009--the "International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Slave Trade and Slavery."
Chicago is the capital of black economics and politics in the United States. It is the only city in the United States which has produced 20 out of 50 Aldermen, 3 of 7 Congressmen, 1 Senator and a President-elect of African Descent. It is also the legal and political center of the Reparations Movement, and the struggle to disclose slavery era records. Mr. Brown believes that the African Community in Chicago is well positioned to host such a historic gathering.
A panel discussion titled "Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Challenges for the Durban Review Conference: Remembrance, Apologies, and Remedies" was held on Wednesday, January 14, 2009, from 13:00 to 15:00 hours, in Room XXIV of the Palais de Nations.
Participants included: Malaak Shabazz, (daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz); Joe Frans, chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Professor Rex Nettleson, chair of the International Scientific Committee to the UNESCO Slave Route Project, Dr. Barryl Biekman, National Platform Dutch Slavery Past; and Jon Lonn, Swedish Centre Against Racism. Mrs. Margaret Parsons, Afro-Canadian Legal Clinic will moderate the discussion.
The panel was organized by the World Against Racism Network, Afro-Canadian Legal Clinic, Swedish Centre Against Racism, Afro-Swedish National Association, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations and National Dutch Slavery Past.
Mr. Brown also took the occasion of his visit to Switzerland to raise similar concerns with the International Olympics Committee. He informed the IOC that the Chicago Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance applies to any and all stakeholders in the Chicago 2016 bid, including but not limited to any and all of the National Olympic Committees and Teams.
Simply put, they cannot receive any services, benefits, support or guarantees from the City of Chicago unless and until their Governments search and disclose any and all of their and any and all of their Royal and Leading Families' slavery era records.
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