CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Equity, inclusion, climate justice and reparations were the top issues discussed at the first Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, organized by the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights. Participating in the forum was a team representing the Society of Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), led by David Livert, Penn State Lehigh Valley professor of psychology.
The forum functions as an advisory body to the Human Rights Council. The group met for the first time in Geneva, Switzerland, in early December with the purpose of developing strategies to combat a host of global concerns; systemic racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance were among the issues discussed.
“The goal is that no one is left behind,” Livert said. “In 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution for this forum to be a mechanism for people of African descent and stakeholders to improve their quality of life.”
Several member nations attended the event. “We were able to meet with UN representatives of missions from Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, and the United States," said Livert.
The forum directly engages many of the issues Livert covers in his psychology courses at PSU-LV, he said.
“All of the issues related to racial/ethnic identity, intersectionality and discrimination are important to the intergroup relations class I teach. In that course I focus on ‘-isms’ — racism, ageism, sexism. There is a very strong U.S. focus in textbooks and materials on racism. Attending the forum will enable me as a professor to relate global conversations about these issues and how they are being addressed. Traveling to Geneva and addressing these issues — I’m sure it’s going to inform many of my classes in the future.”