Sharpe: UN African forum

Richard Sharpe

UN Forum on people of African descent in Geneva

by Richard Sharpe

19 December 2022

It was an honour to speak as a member of the Canadian Civil Society delegation at the inaugural United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent (UNPFPAD) in Geneva, Switzerland. I was one of several Canadians presenting during the 4 days. We were able to provide a clear picture of life for our peoples in this country while contributing to recommendations towards the establishment of a draft International Declaration on the Rights of People of African Descent. I thank the Canadian office of UNESCO for sponsoring me and other Canadian Civil Society representatives to attend this historic event. My Canadian community colleagues were the talk of the forum.

Leadership in this work is key to achieving measurable results in eradicating anti-black racism and anti-black hate in Canada as well as other UN member states. Especially important is to ensure Black leadership is centered to reflect in this work, the lived experiences of the 1.4 million People of African Descent in Canada.

It was both exciting and sobering to hear from international delegates the issues that Black people in Canada face in terms of overrepresentation in the legal and carceral systems, poor health and educational outcomes, under-employment, etc. are identical to what our peoples from the African Diaspora face in all other Western nations. There is a lot of work to do.

In January 2023, the UNDPAD Push Coalition will collaborate with community organizations in Canada to hold a series of community engagements to inform and discuss international efforts to implement institutional measures around the three pillars of recognition, justice and development that are part of the UN Decade for People of African Descent (UNDPAD). Let’s see what we can accomplish before the end of the Decade in 2024.

I always knew I would get to the United Nations. Now let’s see how we can collectively work towards improving the lives of Black people not only in Canada but across the globe. Stay tuned…


Richard Sharpe is Director, Equity, anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion at the Federal Department of Justice.

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