Many in the country and around Africa know someone or have relatives residing in the United States. They likely worry about them with the fraught race relations in America. It seems a day hardly passes of late without news of yet another racial incident, many of them fatal. George Floyd is now familiar, his name now a catchword with racial undertones as the trial of the white policeman accused of killing him comes to a close. And not just in the US. Even in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, you’ll find populist, right-wing agendas and notions of racial superiority, where people of African descent suffer all manner of cruelty, including xenophobia and intolerance. It has been like this since the slave trade through colonialism to apartheid. It might seem a damning indictment on our common humanity that the problem should remain so widespread and persist for so long. Yet there have been global efforts to deal with it. In 1965 the United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The following year, in 1966, it designated 21 March the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Things did not seem to have helped much. Thus, in 2001, the UN adopted by consensus the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the World Conference against Racism that year in South Africa. The declaration remains the most comprehensive proposal to combat racism and its attendant intolerances. Its promise likewise remains unfulfilled. It goes to show how difficult the problem remains that in 2014 the UN launched the International Decade for People of African Descent. It at the same time established a Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. It is meant to be a consultation mechanism and platform to work towards improving the quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent. Among its aims is to contribute to a draft UN declaration being worked out, and expected to lead to a legally binding instrument on the promotion and full respect of human rights of people of African descent. A legally binding instrument is certainly needed. As of July 2020, the 1965 Convention had 88 signatories and 182 parties. But as the news attest, many of the signatories are yet to address the scourge of racism. There is some lack of enthusiasm. For example, many of the state members recognise the competence of Article 14 of the Convention, which establishes an individual complaints mechanism. Among other obligations, the Article requires that parties may at any time recognise the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to consider complaints from individuals or groups who claim their rights under the Convention have been violated. A more binding instrument may be what is needed in the sustained global efforts to tack racism and all it forms. With the ongoing process to operationalise the Permanent Forum on people descended from the continent, it might seem ironic that most countries in Africa, despite their membership in the convention, do not recognise competence of Article 14. But the continent is very much involved in the process to have the forum up and running, as attested in the virtual UN consultation earlier this month. The meeting brought together UN Member States and civil society organisations in the continuing discussions on modalities and other aspects that will operationalise permanent forum. The activity is part of the International Decade, which is themed “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” What has the Decade achieved thus far? Halfway through, a report looking at what has been accomplished thus far North America, Central Asia and Europe notes that only a handful of state parties have implemented national action plans for International Decade’s Programme of Action. Even a handful is progress. But we shall get a better sense of the achievements next month when the General Assembly debates the midterm review of the decade.