The meetings were part of a yearly encounter organised on the margins of the UN General Assembly during which the ecumenical group has an opportunity to attend the UN sessions on racism and self determination, as well as connect in private meetings with UN Special Procedures mechanisms.
This year, the ecumenical group had the opportunity to meet with the chairperson of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, as well as members of the newly formed UN Permanent Forum of People on African Descent, which will have its first session on 5-8 December in Geneva.
The group was also invited to attend a Symposium on the Global Anti-Racism Architecture at the UN entitled “Can the United Nations End Racism?” This was a historic event bringing together, for the first time, all the various UN experts on racial justice. Members of the ecumenical group had the opportunity to connect and discuss with the panellists of the event, which included experts from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and UN Expert Mechanism on Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement, as well as the outgoing UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.
Rev. Dr Angelique Walker-Smith of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., who serves as WCC president for North America, said that member churches and partners from North America were grateful for the timely and strategic role the WCC played in bringing people together in conversation with UN leaders after the WCC 11th Assembly’s affirmation of racism as a WCC transversal and a top priority for WCC members and partners in North America.
“Both the WCC and the UN are transitioning,” she said. “The new and historic launch of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent will be an opportunity to build out a renewed partnership built on the mandates of this new initiative and previous UN mechanisms for ending racism.”
“The WCC has been intentional in providing every year a space for our churches where they can connect with these UN experts on racial justice and share about their respective work on racial justice,” noted Segma Asfaw, WCC staff for international affairs. “This is also an opportunity for us to strengthen and deepen our collaboration with these UN human rights mechanisms.”