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BCAS Launches Global Network at the United Nations

Delegates gather for a photo following the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy side event at the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. Geneva, Switzerland, April 16, 2024
Delegates gather for a photo following the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy side event at the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. Geneva, Switzerland, April 16, 2024

  

Geneva, Switzerland, April 19, 2024 – The Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS) successfully convened the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy side event during the third session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. The event, held in Geneva on April 16, 2024, brought together an international cadre of lawyers, academics, and activists from 20 countries, culminating in the announcement of the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy Network.


Inspired by the landmark $2.5 billion class action lawsuit in Canada led by BCAS, the network is designed to extend this model of strategic litigation combined with robust advocacy efforts globally. The network aims to champion systemic change through legal avenues to secure reparations and promote equity for people of African descent worldwide. Nicholas Marcus Thompson, CEO of the BCAS, highlighted the urgent need for a shift in strategy during his address at the forum:

After a decade, our persistent calls for reparations continue to be overlooked. The old ways of requesting reparations have not worked. It is not enough to ask those who oppress us to right their wrongs; we must demand it, enforce it through the power of strategic litigation paired with relentless advocacy.

The network's mission encompasses several key areas:

  • Strategic Litigation: To use the courts to address and rectify injustices and systemic discrimination.

  • Advocacy: To harness and mobilize our extensive global advocacy network to champion and drive systemic change effectively.

  • Research and Development: To provide empirical data supporting litigation and policy recommendations.

  • Capacity Building: To enhance the skills and knowledge of activists and legal professionals.

  • Networking and Knowledge Sharing: To facilitate collaboration and exchange of best practices among members globally.

The launch of the network marks a significant step forward in the international movement to combat racial injustices and promote equality and human rights for people of African descent. The network's establishment in Geneva underscores a commitment to international cooperation and action.

Pan-African in Norway is happy to join the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy Network initiated by Canada’s Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS). The litigious action being led by BCAS is one of a few examples of active litigation from which we can draw lessons. We applaud the work BCAS has been doing and look forward to taking part in this strategy globally. Hatem Ben Mansour, Pan-African in Norway.

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, BCAS, announces the launch of the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy Network in Geneva, Switzerland, April 16, 2024.



Background on the Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy Side Event


Dr. Johnny J. Mack standing, moderated the event.
L-R Peter Herbert O.B.E., Hodan Ahmed, Tamara Thermitus, Dr. Johnny J. Mack, Gaynel Curry, Nicholas Marcus Thompson.

The Global Strategic Litigation and Advocacy side event, held as part of the third session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva, in support of the thematic discussion of Reparations, Sustainable Development, and Economic Justice. This event brought together a distinguished panel of experts who shared insights and advocated for actionable changes to advance the rights of people of African descent.


The panel included notable figures such as Retired UK Judge Peter Herbert O.B.E., renowned for his contributions to racial justice in the judiciary; Tamara Thermitus, known for her role as the Chief Negotiator of the mandate for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Dr. Johnny J. Mack, Chair of the BCAS Advisory Board, Gaynel Curry, Independent Expert Member of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and Senior UN Fellow Hodan Ahmed. Nicholas Marcus Thompson, CEO of the BCAS, also contributed valuable insights from leading the landmark Canadian class action lawsuit that contributed to significant legislative and policy changes.


Together, these panelists discussed the integration of strategic litigation with advocacy efforts, providing a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges aligned with the Forum's focus on reparations and economic justice. Their discussions highlighted the transformative potential of legal strategies in achieving reparative justice and promoting sustainable development for communities of African descent globally.


Background on BCAS and the Canadian Lawsuit

The Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS) was established in response to systemic discrimination within the Canadian Federal Public Service, which historically hindered the career advancement and fair treatment of Black employees. A landmark $2.5 billion class action lawsuit catalyzed by BCAS has highlighted and challenged these injustices, particularly issues embedded within employment equity legislation and workplace policies. This legal challenge has contributed to significant legislative and policy changes, driving Canada's efforts to formally recognize Black Canadians within employment equity frameworks for the first time.


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