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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 25th June 2020

UN to probe racism in US

Blue Lines

After the African caucus at the UN Human Rights council called for a rare urgent debate on human rights in the United States and circulated a draft resolution calling for a high-powered investigation into racism and police violence there, diplomats in Geneva were expecting another slogging match.

US diplomats lobbied African diplomats, especially the Burkina Faso delegation, which drew up the original text, to make it less country-specific. But it seems that the combination of African anger on the issue and European and Asian states trying to distance themselves from President Donald Trump's stance on the killing of George Floyd, meant that there was little interest in helping out Washington. The US pulled out of the council in 2018, accusing it of political bias and hypocrisy.

On 17 June, the African caucus won agreement on a resolution which tasked Michelle Bachelet, Human Rights Commissioner and former President of Chile, to 'prepare a report on systemic racism and violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent'.

The text further singles out the US by calling on Bachelet, backed by UN-appointed independent rights experts and committees 'to examine government responses to anti-racist peaceful protests including the alleged use of excessive force against protestors, bystanders and journalists'. Such monitoring sounds eerily close to the phraseology used in US State Department human rights reports about some of the council's member states.