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  • Protests have been occurring daily in New York City against racism and police violence, following the death of George Floyd.

    Protests have been occurring daily in New York City against racism and police violence, following the death of George Floyd. | Photo: UN

Published 19 June 2020
Opinion

“It is important to show Africa...the Human Rights Council has heard the plight of African and people of African descent calling for equal treatment and application of equal rights for all.”

The U.N. Human Rights Council Friday condemned discriminatory and violent policing after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month and ordered a report on “systemic racism” against Black people.

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The 47-member-state forum unanimously adopted a resolution brought by African countries and which asks U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to examine government responses to peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force, and deliver findings in a year’s time.

Burkina Faso’s Ambassador Dieudonne W. Desire Sougouri presented the African resolution on Friday, urging its adoption by consensus.

“It is important to show Africa...the Human Rights Council has heard the plight of African and people of African descent calling for equal treatment and application of equal rights for all,” he said.

The Africa group had made numerous “concessions” in the negotiations with other countries, he added.

For his part, Senegal’s envoy Coly Seck, a former council president, welcomed the consensus, telling the talks: “Black Lives Matter.”

The text was watered down during closed-door negotiations from an initial draft explicitly calling for a U.N. commission of inquiry on racism in the United States and elsewhere.

“It is absurd that the final resolution passed by the United Nations strips mention of the United States, where police kill people, particularly Black people, at alarmingly higher rates compared to other developed countries,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which led 600 activist groups in calling for the urgent debate.

“The United Nations needs to do its job — not get bullied out of doing it — and hold the United States accountable,” he said in a statement.

The Trump administration, which quit the forum two years ago alleging bias against its ally Israel, made no immediate comment. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Andrew Bremberg said on Wednesday that his country was “not above scrutiny” as it grappled with racial discrimination but was implementing police reforms after Floyd’s killing.

Meanwhile, Western delegations including Australia, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the European Union, took a position in which they stated that the United States should not be singled out.

"This problem does not belong to any one country, it is a problem around the world," Australian ambassador Sally Mansfield said.


 

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