TO RECOGNIZE THE HUMAN RIGHT OF AFRICAN AMERICANS
(adapted from the Canadian federal government policy guidelines for its national
minorities, international law and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
On this day of ________________________________________, the African American people undertake the first step in the
exercise of their fundamental human right to self-determination in full accordance with international law and the normal practice of
civilized states in relation to their minorities. In so taking this first truly free step since the enslavement of our ancestors and the
resulting oppression and domination of our people, we now demand the immediate recognition by our government, the USA, of our
fundamental human right to self-determination, and request it in the spirit of good faith to assist our efforts to democratically elect
our own leadership and create the institutions and policy changes that recognition of our fundamental human rights will require.
The recognition of the human right to self-determination of the African American people is provided for under Article 27 of the
international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the US government is a party.
The development, negotiation and implementation of this new policy should include a broad-based consultation process which will
involve the democratic election of an African American decision-making entity.
The desire of African Americans to renegotiate our institutional relationship with our fellow Americans is clear: The African American
people seek those institutional changes which are required for legal functional and institutional recognition of their existence and
their developmental need to have greater control over their communities and lives. We believe that the most just, reasonable and
practical mechanism to achieve this is through negotiated agreements.
Therefore it is imperative that we as Americans work towards achieving change in pragmatic and responsible ways. We realize that
the challenge to make this a reality rests on the commitment of all parties, Anglo-Americans generally, all levels of governments and
We are proud to initiate this process which will mark a fundamental improvement in how the local, state and federal governments will
work together with African American people in the future, enhancing our co-existence and national solidarity for generations to come.
We, ____________________________ , request that the government of the United States now recognize the human right of self-
determination of the African American people as an existing right and develop an approach to implementation that focuses on
reaching practical and workable agreements on how self-determination will be exercised, rather than trying to define it in abstract
terms. We believe that this approach can be flexible and can allow all interested parties to make an appropriate input into this
process in the realization of African American self-determination.
While significant differences remain among African American people on the meaning of self-determination, most African American
would agree that it is time to start working together toward making African American self-determination a means of unleashing their
The goal of a free African American leadership as well as the local, state and federal governments should be to initiate a process
that will allow practical progress to be made, to restore dignity to the African American people and empower them to become self-
reliant. Therefore, the African American people need to be able to exercise structures of governance that can and will govern in a
manner that is responsive to the unique needs and interests of the African American people. We believe that like most other
national minorities or nations in multinational states, the African American nation or people, in order to achieve equal status
development, must be granted the following:
1) Our Orientation to the Implementation of the Most Fundamental Human Right in International Law, the Right to Self-determination,
in Relation to African Americans
The state and federal governments of the United States, in recognizing the human right of self-determination as an existing African
American right, must recognize that the African American people, as citizens of the United States, have the right to govern
themselves in relation to matters that are internal to their communities, integral to their unique culture, identity, traditions, languages
and institutions, and where applicable, with respect to their special relationship to their natural resources.
We realize that this human right to self-determination for the African American people may be enforceable by the courts; that there
is and will be differences of views between the government and African Americans as well as among African Americans themselves
about the nature, scope and content of implementation of this right, and thus litigation over the human right would be lengthy, costly
and would tend to foster conflict. Therefore, we recommend that the courts’ role be limited to providing general guidance and legal
guidance to the parties, leaving it to them to work out detailed arrangements through arbitration, mediation and conflict resolution.
Also for these reasons, we areconvinced that litigation should be a last resort. Negotiations among governments and the African
American people are clearly preferable as the most practical and effective way to implement the human right of self-determination.
a) The Nature and Scope of African American Self-determination
The African American people seek internal self-determination. African American governments and institutions exercising the human
right of self-determination will operate within the framework of the American Constitution. African American jurisdictions and
authorities should, therefore, be able to work in harmony with jurisdictions that are exercised by other levels of government. It is in
the interest of both African American and non-African American levels of governments to develop co-operative arrangements that
will ensure the harmonious relationship of laws which is indispensable to the proper functioning of our country as a whole.
In light of the wide array of African American jurisdictions or authorities that may be the subject of negotiations, state governments
should be included in negotiations and agreements since subject matters being negotiated will normally fall within state jurisdiction
and where most subject matters being negotiated will have impact beyond federal jurisdictions.
It is the choice of the African American people that their right to self-determination in the international law sense, should not mean a
politically independent African American state. On the contrary, implementation of self-determination should enhance the
participation of the African American underclass in the American socio-economic and political systems by enlarging the scope of the
U.S. institutions to include their special needs and identity, and ensure that the African American people and their governments do
not continue to exist in de facto psycho-social and economic isolation, separate and apart from equal status development with other
b) American Bill of Rights and Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
We are committed to the principle that the American Bill of Rights as well as Article 27 and all rights of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights should bind all governments in the United States, so that African Americans and non-African Americans
alike may continue to enjoy equally the rights and freedoms guaranteed by these instruments. Self-determination agreements will,
therefore, have to provide that the American Bill of Rights, Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as
well as all other human rights, apply to African American governments and institutions in relation to all matters within their respective
jurisdictions or authorities.
The American Bill of Rights is thus seen by the African American Council as designed to ensure a sensitive balance between
individual rights and freedoms, and the unique values and traditions and collective rights of the African American peoples in the
c) Non-Territorial Self-determination
Due to the fact that African Americans do not form a majority in any existing U.S. territorial/political entity, African American self-
determination will in most cases be non-territorial. Also, given the vastly different circumstances of African Americans throughout
the United States, implementation of the human right to self-determination cannot be uniform across the country or result in a "one-
size-fits-all" form of self-determination. We propose to negotiate self-determination arrangements that are tailored to meet the
unique needs of the African American people as a whole, while providing for appropriate responses to the particular political,
economic, legal, historical, cultural and social circumstances of each African American community and individual. Each African
American community of appropriate size will negotiate how they define self-determination in relation to their needs.
d) Scope of Negotiations
Under the approach of the African American governing entity to be established, the central objective of negotiations will be to reach
agreements on self-determination as opposed to legal definitions of the human right to self-determination. The Government realizes
that African American levels of government and institutions will require the jurisdiction or authority to act in a number of societal
sectors in order to give practical effect to the human right of self-determination. Broadly stated, we view the scope of African
American jurisdiction or authority as likely extending to matters that are internal to the group, integral to its distinct African American
culture and developmental needs, and essential to the ability of the African American nation to operate as a third or fourth level
government or governing entity. Under this approach, the range of matters that would be raised as subjects for negotiation with the
government could include all, some, or parts of the following:
• establishment of governing structures, an internal constitution, elections, leadership selection processes
• membership (citizenship in the African American nation)
• marriage and family law
• adoption and child welfare
• social services
• administration/enforcement of African American laws, including the establishment of African American courts or tribunals and
the creation of penalties of the type normally created by local or regional governments for contravention of their laws
• property rights, including succession and estates
• where appropriate, land management, including: zoning; service fees; land tenure and access; and expropriation of any land
that may be negotiated as African American by African American governments for their own public purposes
• natural resources management
• taxation in respect of direct taxes and property taxes
• transfer and management of monies and group assets
• management of public works and infrastructure
• local transportation
• licensing, regulation, and accreditation of societies for professionals such as lawyers, psychologists, etc. intending to work in
the African American communities
In some of these areas, detailed arrangements will be required to ensure harmonization of laws, while in others, a more general
recognition of African American jurisdiction or authority may be sufficient.
There are a number of other areas that may go beyond matters that are integral to African American culture or that are strictly
internal to a African American group. To the extent that the federal government has jurisdiction in such areas, it should be prepared
to negotiate some measure of African American jurisdiction or authority, because in these areas, laws and regulations will tend to
have impacts that go beyond individual African American communities. Therefore, primary law-making authority would remain with
the federal or state governments, as the case may be, and their laws would prevail in the event of a conflict with African American
laws. Subject matters in this category would include:
• administration of justice issues, including matters related to the administration and enforcement of laws of other jurisdictions
which might include certain criminal laws
• penitentiaries and parole
• environmental protection, assessment and pollution prevention
• emergency preparedness
There are a number of subject matters where there may be no compelling reasons for African American governments or institutions
to exercise law-making authority. These subject matters cannot be characterized as either integral to African American cultures, or
internal to African American community needs. They can be grouped under two headings: (i) powers related to U.S. sovereignty,
defence and external relations; and (ii) other national interest powers. In these areas, it is essential that the federal government
retain its law-making primacy, with a willingness to negotiate special measures to accommodate African American interests where
appropriate. Subject matters in this category would include:
(i) Powers Related to American Sovereignty, Defence and External Relations
• international/diplomatic relations and foreign policy (this would not omit African American missions related to maintaining
contact in exchanges with states related to the African American cultural heritage or religion)
• national defence and security
• security of national borders
• international treaty-making (except where such a treaty may be of particular concern to the cultural preservation of the African
• immigration, naturalization and aliens (except where it is concerned with becoming a citizen of the African American nation; a
citizen of the African American nation need not always to be a citizen of the U.S.)
• international trade, including tariffs and import/export controls
(ii) Other National Interest Powers
• management and regulation of the national economy, including:
• regulation of the national business framework, fiscal and monetary policy
• a central bank and the banking system
• bankruptcy and insolvency
• trade and competition policy
• intellectual property
• incorporation of federal corporations
• maintenance of national law and order and substantive criminal law, including:
• offences and penalties under the Criminal Code and other criminal laws
• emergencies and the "peace, order and good government" power
• protection of the health and safety of all Americans
• federal undertakings and other powers, including:
• broadcasting and telecommunications
• navigation and shipping
• maintenance of national transportation systems
• postal service
• census and statistics
While law-making power in these areas will not be the subject of negotiations, the Government must be prepared to consider
administrative arrangements where it might be feasible and appropriate, or to negotiate a special role for African American courts or
sentencing circles, national telecommunications networks, or an African American development bank allied with the regular national
and international banking system.
e) Mechanisms for Implementation
We anticipate that agreements on self-determination will be given effect through a variety of mechanisms including negotiated
agreements, special measures, legislation, contracts and non-binding memoranda of understanding.
The Government of the United States must be prepared, where all parties agree, to legally or constitutionally protect rights set out in
negotiated self-determination agreements (special measures) within the meaning of Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights. Implementation of the human right to self-determination in this fashion would represent a continuation in the
progress of the historic relationship between the African American people and the Anglo-American-dominated government which
began as one of enslavement and moved through the Apartheid Era, the Civil Rights Era, and now towards the Self-determination
Such agreements will create mutually binding obligations and commitments which would be legally or constitutionally protected.
Recognizing the solemn and enduring nature of such agreements, we believe that the primary criterion for determining whether or
not a matter should receive legal or constitutional protection is whether it is a fundamental element of self-determination that should
bind future generations. Under this approach, suitable matters for legal or constitutional protection would include:
• a listing of jurisdictions or authorities by subject matter and related arrangements;
• the relationship of African American laws to federal and state laws;
• any geographic African American population areas within which the African American government or institution will exercise its
jurisdiction and/or authority, and the people to be affected thereby; and
• matters relating to the accountability of the African American government to its members, in order to establish its legitimacy
and the legitimacy of its laws, a share of public monies currently collected through taxes and other means the existing municipal,
state and federal levels of government, etc.
It follows from this approach that matters in agreements of a technical or temporary nature would not be appropriate matters for
constitutional protection. Arrangements that must be adaptable to changing circumstances, such as program and service delivery
arrangements, and funding arrangements, would therefore not be appropriate subjects for constitutional protection.
Legislation, Contracts and Memoranda of Understanding, Special Measures (Negotiated Agreements)
Self-determination arrangements will not be implemented exclusively through special measures. Other mechanisms that will play a
role in this process include legislation, contracts and non-binding memoranda of understanding. Legislation can be used in the
• to ratify and give effect to special measures;
• to implement particular provisions of special measures; and
• to act as a stand-alone mechanism when the parties concerned wish to implement self-determination arrangements, but not
through special measures.
Legally enforceable contracts can be used for setting out detailed, technical or time-limited agreements respecting the
implementation of self-determination arrangements. Finally, memoranda of understanding, which are not legally enforceable, may
also be used to set out political commitments on self-determination.
Existing Territorial Agreements
The Government must be willing to look into existing land claims demands by such organizations as the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island
Coalition, etc. within the context of implementing self-determination in this Agreement.
Within this policy framework, the state government should be prepared to negotiate self-determination agreements with those
African American groups who live in the same areas wherein they form 50% or more of the population, and are presently practicing
self-determination but do not have self-determination agreements.
Application of Laws
As a right which is exercised within the framework of the American Constitution, the human right to self-determination will not lead to
the automatic exclusion of federal and state laws, many of which will continue to apply to African Americans or will co-exist alongside
validly enacted African American laws.
To minimize the possibility of conflicts between African American laws and federal or state laws, we believe that all agreements,
including special measures, should establish rules of priority by which such conflicts can be resolved. We take the position that
negotiated rules of priority may provide for the paramountcy of African American laws, but may not deviate from the basic principle
that those federal and state laws of overriding national or state importance will prevail over conflicting African American laws. Prior to
the conclusion of self-determination agreements, federal and state laws would continue to apply to the extent that they do currently.
It will be important to ensure a smooth transition from current arrangements to implementation of the human right to self-
determination through negotiated agreements. All agreements, including special measures, should therefore include appropriate
transition measures to ensure that implementation of self-determination does not create legal uncertainty.
We appreciate that certain Black individuals assumed to be African Americans may not wish to be under African American
jurisdiction or that they may wish to remain in whatever jurisdiction they are presently in. Also, some African American groups may
not wish to exercise as full a range of jurisdiction or authority as others immediately, in which case the current legislative regime will
continue to apply until self-determination agreements have been negotiated. Alternatively, some groups may want to structure their
self-determination agreements so that some jurisdictions or authorities can be taken up immediately and others exercised in a
phased manner, in accordance with the group's needs, capacities and preferred timetable. In this case, the current legislative
regime should continue to apply in relation to those jurisdictions or authorities that have not yet been taken up pursuant to a
negotiated agreement. However, some individuals (assumed to be African American) may wish to identify as black Anglo-
Americans. These individuals, in such cases, should be permitted to freely identify with whatever ethny they feel to be a part of.
Jurisdiction or Authority Over Non-Members
Negotiations with African American groups residing on a land base must address the rights and interests of non-members
(minorities) residing on African American lands. Agreements should indicate clearly if African American jurisdiction or authority will
be exercised over such minorities or non-members. Where the exercise of African American jurisdiction or authority over non-
members is contemplated, agreements must provide for the establishment of mechanisms through which non-members may have
input into decisions that will affect their rights and interests, and must provide for minority rights of redress.
As African American governments and institutions will exercise jurisdiction or authority and assume control over decision-making that
affects sectors of their communities, they will also assume greater responsibilities related to the exercise of those powers. As a
result, the U.S. state and federal government responsibilities will lessen but not disappear. As the historic and ongoing unequal
status relationship between the African American people and the Anglo-American people will evolve from one of complete socio-
political and economic dependence towards one of interdependence as a natural consequence both of African Americans' changing
role in shaping their own lives and communities, and enlarging the African American institutions and developmental scope permitting
an equal status relationship.
In circumstances where African Americans wish the U.S. or state government to have certain ongoing obligations, self-determination
jurisdiction or authority will, correspondingly, be limited. In such cases, continuing American government obligations should be
clearly defined. There is no justifiable basis for the Government to retain fiduciary obligations in relation to subject matters over
which it has relinquished its control and over which an African American government or institution has, correspondingly, assumed
control (over which the African American government or taxation authority applies). Thus political authority will be directly related to
African American governments and institutions should be fully accountable to their members or citizens for all of their jurisdiction or
authority. Mechanisms to ensure political and financial accountability should be comparable to those in place for other levels of
governments and institutions of similar size, although they need not be identical in all respects.
Mechanisms to ensure political accountability can be developed, ratified and set out in an African American constitution so that
they are transparent to all members, and to others who deal with the African American governments or institutions. In determining
the specific accountability measures required, consideration will need to be given to the particular functions of African American
autonomous governing structures and institutions, such as the exercise of jurisdiction, the delivery of programs and services, and/or
the administration and enforcement of regulations.
African American governments exercising law-making authority will establish:
• clear and open processes of law-making;
• transparent processes for proclaiming a law in effect;
• procedures for the notification and publication of laws; and
• procedures for the appeal of laws or other decisions.
African American institutions exercising authorities will:
• ensure that the decision-making processes central to the core functions of those institutions are open and transparent;
• ensure that information on administrative policies and standards is readily obtainable by clients; and
• establish procedures, where appropriate, for administrative review, including appeal mechanisms.
This is required as the basis for equal status integration, or voluntary assimilation without oppression and discrimination.
Mechanisms to ensure administrative and financial accountability to members and to clients will also be established, and should be
no less stringent than those existing for other governments and institutions of comparable size. Such mechanisms will respect the
principles of transparency, disclosure and redress.
Financial records and statements will comply with generally accepted accounting principles for governments and institutions of
comparable size. In addition, public accounts must be prepared and made available, and provision must be made for annual public
audits of expenditures.
African American governments and institutions must also be accountable to the state legislature or to Congress for funding provided
by the federal government as a result of self-determination agreements. Specifically, financing agreements will provide for a
mechanism enabling the state or Congress to assess the extent to which public funds have contributed to the objectives for which
they were voted.
African American governments and institutions will develop rules with respect to conflict of interest for both elected and appointed
officials. In particular, conflict-of-interest rules will ensure that services that provide an opportunity for financial gain operate at arm's
length from elected and appointed officials.
The Government's position should be that financing self-determination is a shared responsibility among federal, state, local and
African American governments and institutions. Specific financing arrangements will be negotiated among governments and each
African American authority concerned.
The Government would normally require that an agreement on cost-sharing between the federal government and the relevant state
or local government be secured prior to the commencement of substantive negotiations. In negotiating new financial arrangements
and cost-sharing agreements, the federal government would maintain the position that it has primary but not exclusive responsibility;
the cost of African Americans’ self-determination should be shared by the states.
All participants in self-determination negotiations must recognize that self-determination arrangements will have to be affordable and
consistent with the overall social and economic policies and priorities of government, while at the same time taking into account the
ongoing specific needs of African Americans. In this regard, the fiscal and budgetary capacity of the federal, state, municipal and
African American governments or institutions will be a primary determinant of the financing of self-determination.
Specific financial arrangements for the financing of African American governments and institutions should take into account, among
• the shared objective of ensuring the comparability of basic public services for African Americans to those available to other
Americans in the vicinity (comparability does not mean that programs, services or funding must be identical in all cases);
• the need for reasonably stable, predictable and flexible funding arrangements for African American governments and
• existing levels of support provided by governments;
• the jurisdictions, authorities, programs and services to be assumed by African American governments or institutions;
• the African American community's ability to raise its own-source revenues, and other resources available to it; and
• the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the proposed arrangements, including issues related to the size, location and
accessibility of the groups.
In addition, financial arrangements should be consistent with principles of sound public administration.
In the present climate of scarce resources it will be particularly important for the various levels of government to work together to
harmonize funding, programs and service delivery arrangements, thereby ensuring the most efficient and effective use of state and
national resources. We expect that, wherever feasible, African American governments and institutions will develop their own sources
of revenue in order to reduce reliance, over time, on transfers from other levels of government.
Non-Duplication of Access to Programs
African American communities and individuals covered by self-determination arrangements will continue to be eligible for programs
that the federal government may establish from time to time. However, where a comparable jurisdiction, authority or program has
been assumed by an African American authority pursuant to a special measures agreement, individuals under that African American
authority would not ordinarily be eligible for similar federal programs.
The Government should require a separate implementation plan for all self-determination agreements to be approved in conjunction
with Final Agreements. Implementation plans must identify the activities, timeframes and resources that have been agreed upon to
give effect to the agreements. Issues related to affordability, efficiency, capital requirements, duplication of services, feasibility and
capacity will have to be addressed.
The Government will of course have to recognize that there will be new costs associated with the transition from the existing regime
to implementation of new self-determination arrangements. Therefore there will not be a separate source of funding for
implementation and transition costs. All such costs will have to be provided for by the government, the UN, or governmental aid to
African Americans (African American restorative development)
In addition, self-determination agreements may not include any program enrichment. Any decisions by the federal government
regarding program enrichment would have to be made within the context of that program and by the department concerned, not as
a consequence of self-determination agreements. Once self-determination arrangements are in place, however, African American
governments will be free to redirect and redistribute monies into those areas they deem appropriate, subject to maintaining
whatever statutory requirements and minimal standards of program and service delivery that have been agreed upon.
PART II: VARIOUS APPROACHES TO SELF-DETERMINATION
The Government should recognize that the African Americans in the various communities of the South, North, West, etc. have
different needs, circumstances and aspirations, and want to exercise their human right in different ways. Occasionally land-based
governance may be desired if they can be negotiated; some may want to work within wider social service and public government
structures; and some want institutional arrangements. The Government should be flexible and prepared to support various
approaches, taking into account differing needs and circumstances, and be flexible on the specific arrangements which may be
Many African Americans have expressed a strong desire to control their own affairs and communities, and deliver programs and
services better tailored to their own values and cultures. They want to replace the policy of forced assimilation and cultural rejection
with one of pride in cultural preservation in the context of an equal-status integration.
The Government of the United States should be prepared to work with all African American groups to address these aspirations.
The Government should hold that its approach to implementing the human right will allow African Americans and governments to
establish mutually satisfactory negotiation processes leading to agreements that will recognize their human dignity and right to have
control over their communities and development. Finally, where the parties to negotiations agree, the Government should be
prepared to protect rights contained in negotiated self-determination agreements as constitutionally protected rights.
The Government should also be prepared to constitutionally protect rights negotiated in public institutional arrangements where
appropriate and if the parties to the negotiations agree. Such negotiations would necessarily include the state and municipal
governments (its public institutions) in order to ensure harmonious intergovernmental relationships.
Self-determination arrangements in a public government context do not preclude consideration of other arrangements at some
future date, provided that all parties concerned are in agreement.
Government should accept that the onus to resolve any disputes regarding representation within or among African American people
should rest with the African American people.
Role of Municipalities and Third Parties
Recognizing the importance of conducting negotiations in a spirit of openness and co-operation, the Government should be
committed to providing municipalities and third parties with meaningful opportunities to have input into negotiation processes that
may directly affect their interests. To this end, the Government should work with the states, municipalities and African American
groups to develop appropriate consultation mechanisms for municipalities and third parties that may be directly affected by self-
determination negotiations and agreements.
Approval of Negotiated Agreements (Special Measures) for the African American national minority
Within the government, executive approval should be sought for Agreements-in-Principle and Final Agreements, and legislative
approval sought for negotiated self-determination agreements and any implementing legislation that may be required.
The Government should require evidence that negotiated agreements have been ratified by the African American people in a way
that demonstrates clearly the people’s consent. While the specific ratification mechanism can be negotiated, it will have to ensure
that all members have an opportunity to participate, that they have all relevant information available, and that the procedures for
ratification are transparent and recognized as binding.
|An international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations