06 January 2016

U.N. Group of Experts on People of African Descent to visit U.S.

Overview of Working Group: The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is a UN body of experts dedicated to improving the human rights situation of people of African descent in the Diaspora. One of their mandates is to visit different countries to examine critically the situation of people of African descent in the country, identify problems, and make recommendations for resolution of the problems. 

To fulfill its mandate, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent undertakes country visits; holds two annual sessions; responds to information and allegations received concerning its mandate under the Communications procedure; and reports to United Nations Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on activities relating to the mandate.


To study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the Diaspora and, to that end, gather all relevant information from Governments, non-governmental organizations and other relevant sources, including through the holding of public meetings with them;

To propose measures to ensure full and effective access to the justice system by people of African descent;

To submit recommendations on the design, implementation and enforcement of effective measures to eliminate racial profiling of people of African descent;

To make proposals on the elimination of racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent in all parts of the world;

To address all the issues concerning the well-being of Africans and people of African descent contained in the Durban Declaration and Program of Action;

To elaborate on proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent, bearing in mind the need for close collaboration with international and development institutions and the specialized agencies of the United Nations system to promote the human rights of people of African descent, as well as other affirmative or positive measures and strategies within the human rights framework

Country Visits:

These visits provide an opportunity to examine in detail the situation of people of African descent in the country, to identify any problems and to make recommendations for how these could be resolved. By the nature of the mandate, the Working Group is required to look critically at the situation in a country and also identify good practices that could be replicated in other countries. The visits are intended to provide an independent and impartial assessment which will then be of use to all actors.

What happens during a country visit?

The Working Group meets with the heads of State and of Government, with relevant Government ministers, representatives of independent human rights institutions, UN agencies, civil society, academia, the media, human rights defenders, people of African descent, among others. The Working Group will usually begin a visit in the capital city and then continue with visits to other cities or towns, as well as to rural areas of particular relevance to the role and situation of people of African descent.

What sort of information is gathered during a visit?

The Working Group will gather the following types of information: any forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, afrophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent; measures taken to prevent racial discrimination and protect victims of racism and hate crimes; mechanisms for the protection, integration and inclusion of migrants and refugees; responses to multiple forms of discrimination that specific groups of African descent may face and the efforts undertaken by the authorities to protect people of African descent from violations.

What happens after the visit?

At the end of the visit the Working Group holds a media conference and issues a press release with its preliminary findings and recommendations. The Working Group releases a mission report indicating, among other things, the main concerns and recommendations for action. The report is presented formally by the Working Group to the Human Rights Council.

Overview of the US Visit: The UN WGEPAD will conduct an official visit to the United States January 18-January 29, 2016. 

The group will spend two days in Washington, DC at the beginning of their trip and will conclude their trip in Washington, DC on January 27-29. In addition to visiting Washington, DC the group’s trip will include visits to four additional communities in the United States. They will visit Baltimore, Maryland in the Mid-Atlantic region, Chicago, Illinois and Ferguson, Missouri in the Midwest region, and Jackson, Mississippi in the South. 

They will also be visiting detention facilities during their visit to gather information on the experiences of incarcerated people of African descent. 

Members of the Working Group:

There are five members of the Working Group. The following members of the Working Group will participate in the US visit:

(Chairperson, France) 
(South Africa)