Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent


The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Working Group studies the problem of racial discrimination facing individuals of African descent worldwide, in accordance with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001.

The Working Group gathers information from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and other relevant sources and proposes solutions to the problem of racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent. In particular, the Working Group offers suggestions to ensure full and effective access to the justice system and to eliminate racial profiling of people of African descent.


Five independent experts on people of African descent make up the Working Group, with equitable geographical representation being one of the criteria for appointment. Typically, the Working Group meets for one session per year, with each session lasting five working days. The mandate of the Working Group lasts for a period of three years.

The Working Group has decided to organize its work around a yearly theme. In the past, the Working Group has focused on the themes of administration of justice, the media, access to education, racism and employment, racism and health, and racism and housing.

The UN Commission on Human Rights created the mandate of the Working Group in 2002 with Resolution 2002/68 and extended the mandate in 2003 (Resolution 2003/30). The Human Rights Council extended the Working Group’s mandate in 2008 (Resolution 9/14) and again in 2011 (Resolution 18/28).

In fulfilling its mandate, the Working Group undertakes country visits and submits activity reports to the UN Human Rights Council. Notably, unlike other special procedures, the Working Group does not specifically invite the submission of information or complaints, and provides no contact information for such communications on its website.

Country Visits

The Working Group must undertake a minimum of two visits to different countries each year. Past reports of the Working Group on its country visits can be viewed here.

The Working Group conducts country visits to enhance its understanding of the situation of people of African descent in that country. These country visits allow the Working Group to obtain first-hand information from the government and civil society groups about the measures being taken to eliminate racial discrimination.

Following each visit, the Working Group writes a report highlighting the situation for people of African descent in that country. Each report generally includes a description of the State’s current situation regarding racial discrimination, general comments, conclusions, and recommendations.

More than 100 countries have extended standing invitations to country visits by all thematic special procedures. View the list of countries that have extended standing invitations here.

Reports to the Human Rights Council

The Working Group reports annually to the UN Human Rights Council on all of its activities relating to its mandate. These reports are available on the Working Group’s Annual Reports webpage.