Addressing an urgent debate on racism and police brutality the United Nations Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet called on countries Wednesday in Geneva to examine their pasts and to strive to better understand the scope of continuing “systemic discrimination.”
The U.N.’s human rights chief said that,
systemic racism… has become emblematic of the excessive use of disproportionate force by law enforcement, against people of African descent, against people of color, and against Indigenous peoples and racial and ethnic minorities in many countries across the globe.
“Behind today’s racial violence, systemic racism and discriminatory policing lies the failure to acknowledge and confront the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism,” she highlighted.
Bachelet also stressed the need to,
make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including through formal apologies, truth-telling processes, and reparations in various forms.
The urgent council debate was called in response to George Floyd’s murder, a 46-year-old black man, which was caught on amateur video, sparking worldwide demands to address systemic racism in the United States and around the world.
African countries are calling for the council to ask Bachelet and other UN. rights experts to investigate racism and police brutality in the U.S., but potential support for their draft resolution is unclear yet.
The U.S. itself withdrew from the council two years ago, but a number of its allies are uncomfortable with the country being singled out in the text, according to observers of the process.
Bachelet herself did not speak out specifically in favor of the draft resolution, but she did stress the need for “decisive reforms.”
However, she insisted on the importance of making clear that,
Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The lives of people of color matter.