Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) introduced the African Descent Affairs Act on the occasion of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day and beginning of the International Decade for People of African Descent (Legislation Attached):
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was a clarion call to the world that inspired, and continues to inspire, all of us to work together in order to establish and maintain an international standard of human rights. On the occasion of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day, I am proud to recognize the beginning of the International Decade for People of African Descent by introducing the African Descent Affairs Act.
“The International Decade provides an opportunity to join efforts with countries around the globe to, over the next 10 years, develop and implement national strategies honoring the vast contributions of people of African Descent and to combat continuing issues of prejudice and discrimination such as those currently gripping our nation. My legislation seeks to improve the situation of people of African descent around the world by establishing within our State Department a Global Office of African Descent Affairs in order to establish global foreign policy and assistance strategies for people of African descent. Furthermore, it creates a fund to support anti-discrimination and empowerment efforts by African descent-led civil society organizations, and requires annual State Department human rights reports to include a section on discrimination faced by people of African descent.
“As we reflect on the progress made in the promotion of human rights around the globe, we are also reminded of the work that remains to be done to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are protected both at home and abroad. It is my strong belief that the United States must continue to demonstrate leadership in the advancement of human rights. In doing so, we must also be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the ongoing challenges we face as a nation in upholding the human rights and civil rights of all people. We must acknowledge that we undermine rather than fortify our commitment to human rights when we allow human beings to be tortured. And we must also acknowledge that we fail in our dedication to human rights when we allow excessive force to be used against our own citizens.
“It is my fervent hope that over the course of the International Decade we will bring increased attention to, and solutions for, the racism, xenophobia and countless other forms of injustice that have for far too long plagued individuals of African descent. While much progress has been made in the 55 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, injustices continue to plague our nation, and indeed the world. We must embrace the challenges that lie ahead and continue to work with the global community to ensure that each and every single individual’s humanity and dignity are recognized and respected.
“I encourage my colleagues to join me in recognizing and celebrating Human Rights Day, as well as the collective history and achievements made by people of African descent on the occasion of the beginning of the International Decade by supporting the African Descent Affairs Act.”
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.