UN Debate: Participants condemn systemic racism in the USA with High commissioner tasked to take action.

It could be recalled that a group of 54 African countries formed a coalition and demanded an “urgent debate” on racial discrimination, especially against people of African descent from the United Nations at the backdrop of the George Floyd incident and an earlier demand for justice for victims of brutalities and racial discrimination made by their families.

The debate was actually held on Wednesday, June 17th. At least 120 countries took the floor to air their views on the issue. Majority of the countries condemned the ingrained racism in the united states of America whilst others took turns to disclose to the house, the various programs and policies they have put in place in their respective countries to help combat the menace.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, stated after the house held a minute silence for all victims of racial injustice, “Today, people are saying loudly and movingly, enough. The UN has a duty to respond to the anguish that has been left by so many for so long”.

The United nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet also made reference to the death of Floyd and stated that “it (the George Floyd incident) has brought to a head the outrage of people who feel they are neither adequately served nor adequately heard, by their governments.”

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He further added that the incident has brought to their feet, millions of allies, people who are now beginning to acknowledge the realities of systemic discrimination suffered by others and to join their demand that every person in their countries be treated with equality, fairness and respect.

Philonise Floyd, brother to the deceased George Floyd, was equally allowed to speak on behalf of his family and he lamented that “you in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd {…} I am asking you to help him. I am asking you to help us. Black people in America.”

Following the house proceedings, some of the member countries demanded an independent international investigation into the killings of black people in America, as well as the reported violence against protestors, but others maintained that the issue impacted on almost all nations, and required a holistic approach.

The resolution text of the house, however, tasked the High Commissioner, Ms. Bachelet which will be supported by independent rights experts and committees appointed by the UN to examine government responses to peaceful anti-racism process, peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force against protesters, bystanders and journalists.

Moreover, the High Commissioner is equally expected to “prepare a report on systemic racism, violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, especially those incidents that resulted in the death of George Floyd and other Africans and of people of African descent.”

Per the final resolution, a unanimous decision was made by the house without a vote to address systemic racism as requested by the African nations.

“Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, I have been informed that a number of resolutions are ready for adoption during this meeting as shown on the screen […] So, I would like to ask if there is a request from anybody for a vote […] I see none, so may I take it that the draft proposal L50 as orally revised may be adopted without a vote? It is so decided.” Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, President of the UN Human Rights Council, said as she approved the resolution.

We applaud the resolve of the African coalition and the sense of unity they implore in pushing for this debate to be held to reignite the fight against racism and police brutalities. We urge them to keep the composure and raise other major issues of concern to be addressed for the collective good of the continent.

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