Sunday, September 6, 2020

Report Back to Human Rights Council on US Racism

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 45th session from September 14 through October 6, 2020, in Geneva. 

US activists will be particularly attuned to the discussions of systemic racism and human rights violations in the United States.  During the meeting, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will present her first oral update to the Council on the preparation of her report on systemic racism and police brutality, especially those incidents that resulted in the death of George Floyd and of other Africans and people of African descent, as well as government responses to anti-racism peaceful protests.  The item is #16 on the HRC agenda. An overview of the HRC session is available here.  The meeting will be broadcast on UN Web TV.

Nearly 150 families of victims of police violence and over 360 civil society organisations  endorsed a letter sent on August 3 to the UN High Commissioner, detailing expectations from the report and the process for its preparation, including an “inclusive outreach to communities of color and the creation of meaningful, safe, and accessible opportunities for consultation.” On August 19, 2020, the High Commissioner responded to the letter,  here.

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In the United States, there could be no question that the problem was not one of isolated incidents of police misconduct, but rather it was one of systemic racism in law enforcement. Furthermore, it was a situation that required urgent and decisive action by the Human Rights Council. Nevertheless, the predominant messages from the President of the United States and his administration had been to deny the existence of systemic racism in law enforcement. Instead, he had inflamed national tensions through racialized divisive rhetoric and called on public authorities to deploy force against protestors. The response of the United States’ Government to the national uprising against systemic racism in law enforcement had re-enacted the very injustices that had driven people into the streets in the first place. Any resolution adopted by the Council at the conclusion of this debate must provide for an international commission of inquiry with the necessary authority to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States. Failure to establish an international commission of inquiry would signal that black lives do not matter, or that if they do, they do not matter enough to mobilize the Human Rights Council to intervene where it should.

Posted by: globaltel | Sep 9, 2020 1:58:11 AM

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