After the United Nations issued a report last month to examine racism against people of African descent, the U.S. State Department has invited UN experts on racism and human rights to conduct an official visit to the United States.
The UN report was spawned by George Floyd’s murder last summer and was intended to examine antiblack racism globally and present “an agenda towards transformative change for racial justice and equality,” the report states.
In response to this analysis, Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded with a statement Tuesday, noting that “responsible nations must not shrink from scrutiny of their human rights record; rather, they should acknowledge it with the intent to improve.”
“I urge all UN member states to join the United States in this effort, and confront the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia. Because when all people – regardless of their race or ethnicity – are free to live up to their full potential, our collective security is strengthened,” he added.
The U.S. has reached out to the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues for an official visit, Blinken said in the statement. Invitations to other UN experts who report and advise on human rights issues will also be issued.
Blinken also used the announcement to welcome the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution which calls for action to tackle systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent in the context of law enforcement.
This invitation was extended at a critical time for racial justice issues in the U.S. It comes just over a year after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who has since been fired and convicted of murder. Floyd’s murder sparked nationwide as well as global protests against police brutality and racism and urgent calls for government action.
Earlier this year, the Biden Administration announced plans to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, three years after the Trump administration pulled the U.S. from the council in 2018. Biden, who won the White House with crucial support from Black voters, made fighting racial injustice a key part of his 2020 campaign.
However, some advocates have expressed concerns about Biden’s plan to increase police presence in U.S. cities, as racism and unjust policing are precisely what spawned the UN report.
In response to Biden’s latest police funding and gun violence plan, the ACLU said in a statement: “we have concerns about elements of the plan that could very well lead to the further criminalization of communities of color, and that allow cities to continue with the status quo solutions of more police and more aggressive enforcement. History has demonstrated that the hiring of more police officers leads to more enforcement of low-level offenses in communities of color.”
The ACLU added that “of the 10.3 million arrests made per year by police, only 5 percent of those are for serious violent crimes like rape, murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. The remaining 95 percent are a mixture of offenses that are not related to violence, but unnecessarily criminalize Black communities in particular.”
Blinken said that the invitation to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on minority issues was the first step in a plan to issue invitations to all U.N. experts who report and advise on human rights issues.