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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Urges Meaningful Action on Systemic Racism in the United States from the UN Human Rights Council
June 17, 2020

Human Rights First Urges Meaningful Action on Systemic Racism in the United States from the UN Human Rights Council

WASHINGTON — Human Rights First welcomed today’s UN Human Rights Council  “urgent debate” on “race-based human rights violations, systemic racism, police violence against persons of African descent, and violence against peaceful protests” within the United States and other jurisdictions. The organization echoed the call of UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance E. Tendayi Achiume in urging that the debate results in meaningful outcomes, including inquiry mechanisms designed to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement globally.

“We welcome the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to dedicate time and attention to the issue of systemic racism and unlawful police violence against Black Americans, other minority populations, and peaceful protestors,” said Rob Berschinski, senior vice president for policy at Human Rights First. “The Human Rights Council is a flawed body, and one made worse by the Trump Administration’s counterproductive decision to withdraw the United States from its membership. That said, if the United States is to lead on human rights globally, it should welcome the opportunity to discuss with other nations problems both specific to America and faced by people of color and other minorities in virtually all countries around the world. The Trump administration should take this opportunity to engage in good faith with those nations willing to do the same in furtherance of universal rights.”

The Human Rights Council “urgent debate” was formally adopted Monday following a request from a group of African diplomats.

Previously, family members of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile and Michael Brown, all killed by police, signed a letter addressed to the UN Human Rights Council calling for such a meeting. Human Rights First joined hundreds of other human rights activists and groups in supporting their ask. Human Rights First has criticized police killings and condemned the Trump administration’s militarized response to protests, including by organizing a letter from former military officers condemning the Trump administration’s proposal to have the U.S. military play a leading role in responding to civil unrest.