Press Release

On the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the IACHR Urges States to Employ Efforts to Protect and Promote Afro-American Culture

March 23, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - On the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) honors the memory of more than 15 million African men, women, boys and girls who were victims of the dreadful transatlantic slave trade, considered the largest forced migration flow in history.

On this day, the IACHR notes that the phenomenon of slavery and the subsequent lack of positive actions taken to neutralize and reverse its effects, resulted in the perpetuation of mechanisms of direct and indirect discrimination against the Afro-descendant population. This has generated a historical and systematic pattern of racial discrimination and exclusion that still affects the Afro-descendant population in the Americas up to this day.

The Commission has underscored that the lack of information on the contribution of the Afro-descendant population to the societies of the Americas has promoted their invisibility. On the other hand, the IACHR considers that it is important to modify the content of textbooks and educational programs in order to include relevant information on the participation and contributions of the Afro-descendant population, as the knowledge of these historical facts favors the adoption and consolidation of approaches governed by solidarity and inclusiveness. 

"States should employ efforts to modify curricula and school programs to incorporate the study of slavery, colonialism, and independence processes from basic education, from an integrationist and inclusive perspective, in such a way that it recognizes that the historical debt with the people of African descent still exists", said Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants and against Racial Discrimination.

On the other hand, the IACHR highlights the importance of implementing campaigns and educational initiatives to make discrimination and racism visible. It is key that they underline the structural nature of racial discrimination and in daily life, as a first step to eliminate racial discrimination and build inclusive societies. In addition, the IACHR emphasizes that within the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent, States must adopt concrete and practical measures through the approval and effective implementation of national and international legal frameworks, as well as policies and programs to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related forms of intolerance faced by people of African descent.

Finally, the Commission strongly calls on the States of the region to adopt the necessary measures to ratify the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance, as an effective demonstration of a serious commitment to combat racial discrimination and all forms of intolerance in the hemisphere. 

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 060/18