GENEVA (AP) – The UN’s highest human rights body unanimously agreed on Friday to produce a UN report on systemic racism and discrimination against black people, while not ceasing to command a more intensive investigation of the United States after death George Floyd’s has provoked worldwide demonstrations.
The Human Rights Council approved a consensus resolution after days of struggling with language after African countries withdrew from their initial urge to become a commission of inquiry, the council’s most intrusive form of control, which was more focused on the US. Instead, the resolution calls for a simple and more general report to be written by the UN Human Rights Office and external experts.
The goal is to “contribute to victim liability and redress” in the United States and beyond, the resolution said.
The Human Rights Watch advocacy group said the measure was well below the level of research that hundreds of civil society organizations sought, but nevertheless paved the way for an unprecedented view of racism and police brutality in the United States – on the efforts of U.S. officials to avoid the Council attention – showing that even the most powerful countries could be held accountable.
Iran and Palestine joined the co-sponsors for the resolution condemning “the continued racist discrimination and violent practices” by law enforcement against Africans and people of African descent, “including those to death on May 25, 2020 in Minnesota from George Floyd. “, it says. Any state can register as a resolution co-sponsor with the council.
The approved text asks UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to investigate governments’ responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and report to the Council in June next year. It also asked her to include updates on police brutality against Africans and people of African descent in her regular updates to the council between now and then.
On Thursday, the council finalized an urgent debate on racism and police brutality, sparked by Floyd’s death last month that sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. It came after Floyd’s relatives, families of other black victims of U.S. police brutality, and hundreds of interest groups urged the panel to hold a special session on the issue – which it did not.
A black man, Floyd, died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee to his neck for several minutes when Floyd begged for air and eventually stopped moving. His death sparked outrage.
The African countries that brought the matter to the Human Rights Council insisted on the urgency of the moment, citing an exceptional opportunity to highlight decades of racial discrimination in the United States.
Some Member States of the Human Rights Council – particularly Western democracies such as the United States – have been reluctant to choose US envoys from some Latin American countries and regretted bickering on such an important issue when their capitals returning home were largely concerned with the pandemic of COVID-19.
A key US ally suggested that the focus on the United States was derived from the need for a stronger, more general condemnation of racism.
“We would have had more time to discuss and negotiate the text of the resolution,” said German Ambassador Michael Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg. Racism is a global problem. The fight against racism should unite rather than divide us. That is why we are against choosing one state. “
The Venezuela envoy, where the government under President Nicolas Maduro is at odds with the United States, has fired a verbal burst at Washington.
“The vile murder of George Floyd has exposed the systemic racism and fascist and supremacist nature of Yankee imperialism,” said Ambassador Jorge Valero.
María del Socorro Flores Liera, Mexico’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, noted the timeliness of the resolution vote on Juneteenth, a day commemorating the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas in 1865, and informed the enslaved black people there that they were free.
The US mission in Geneva did not immediately comment on the resolution.
U.S. officials have engaged in back-channel diplomacy as the text was drafted – but the United States is officially on the sidelines of the 47 country council. The Trump administration withdrew the US two years ago, citing the council’s alleged anti-Israel bias and acceptance of autocratic regimes with pockmarked rights as members.
On Wednesday, US Ambassador to Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, recognized “shortcomings” in the United States, including racial discrimination, and urged the government to be “transparent” in addressing it. He called the United States the world’s greatest human rights advocate and added, “We are not critical. But he said racism is a problem in many countries.
Human Rights Watch said the US had tried to draw attention to this issue.
“The United States’ efforts to avoid the attention of the Council only make clear why such an investigation is needed and how far there is still to come to dismantle the pernicious structures of institutionalized racism,” said John Fisher, director of the group in Geneva.
“No state, no matter how powerful, should be excluded from board scrutiny, and today’s resolution opens the door to drawing more international attention to violations by both the United States and other powerful states in the future,” he added. ready.
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