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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

US in mind, UN body to report on racism after Floyd killing

The Human Rights Council approved a consensus resolution following days of grappling over language after African nations backed away from their initial push for a commission of inquiry, the council's most intrusive form of scrutiny, focusing more on the US.

By: AP | Geneva | June 19, 2020 10:19:22 pm
George Floyd BLM Historic nationwide protests have erupted in the USA over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The UN’s top human rights body voted unanimously Friday to commission a UN report on systemic racism and discrimination against black people while stopping short of ordering a more intensive investigation singling out the United States after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police sparked worldwide demonstrations.

The Human Rights Council approved a consensus resolution following days of grappling over language after African nations backed away from their initial push for a commission of inquiry, the council’s most intrusive form of scrutiny, focusing more on the US.

Instead, the resolution calls for a simple and more generic report to be written by the UN human rights chief’s office and outside experts.

The aim is “to contribute to accountability and redress for victims” in the U.S. and beyond, the resolution states.

Iran and Palestine signed on as co-sponsors for the resolution that condemns “the continuing racially discriminatory and violent practices” by law enforcement against Africans and people of African descent “in particular which led to the death of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minnesota,” it says. Any state can sign on as a resolution co-sponsor at the council.

The approved text also asks U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to examine government responses to anti-racism peaceful protests, and calls on her to report back to the council in June 2021. It asked her to also include updates on police brutality against Africans and people of African descent in her regular updates to the council.

The council on Thursday wrapped up an urgent debate on racism and police brutality that was called in the wake of Floyd’s death last month that sparked Black Lives Matter protests worldwide.

Floyd, a black man, died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. His death prompted a wave of outrage.

US officials have engaged in back-channel diplomacy as the text was being drawn up but the United States is officially on the sidelines of the 47-nation council.

The Trump administration pulled the US out two years ago, citing the council’s alleged anti-Israel bias and acceptance of autocratic regimes with pockmarked rights records as members.

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