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United Nation on Systemic Racism

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

The United Nations has been actively working to address systemic racism.

In June 2021, the UN Human Rights Council called for member countries to take decisive action to carry out the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recommendations on systemic racism and police violence against Africans and people of African descent. Source

The High Commissioner’s report calls for UN action to spur transformative change for racial justice and equality for Africans and people of African descent globally. The report’s findings are based on consultations with over 340 people, including family members of Black people killed by police, and 110 written submissions from governments around the world and nongovernmental organizations. Source

The report found that racism in the US - a legacy of slavery, the slave trade, and one hundred years of legalized apartheid that followed slavery’s abolition – continues to exist today in the form of racial profiling, police killings, and many other human rights violations. Source

Across numerous countries, notably in North and South America and in Europe, people of African descent disproportionately live in poverty and face serious barriers in accessing education, healthcare, employment, housing and clean water, as well as to political participation and other fundamental human rights, the report maintained. Source

The UN report notes that poor outcomes continue for people of African descent in many countries, notably in accessing health and adequate food, education, social protection, and justice - while poverty, enforced disappearance and violence continues. Source

Children of African descent are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, experts told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as delegates engaged in a series of interactive dialogues on the link between systemic racism and the global ecological crisis, elimination of contemporary forms of racism and the right of people to self-determination. Source

The forms of discrimination reported to the United Nations by the United States included “inadequate enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws”; “ineffective use and dissemination of data”; economic disadvantage experienced by minority groups; “persistent discrimination in employment and labor relations”; “segregation and discrimination in housing” leading to diminished educational opportunities for minorities; lack of equal access to capital, credit markets and technology; discrimination in the criminal legal system; lack of adequate access to health insurance and health care; and discrimination against immigrants, among other harmful effects. Source

Racism in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is structural, institutional and systemic, says UN. Warning that people of African descent in the country continue to encounter racial discrimination and erosion of their fundamental rights. Source

Highlighting the historic role of the UN in pivotal struggles against racism –such as the ending of apartheid in South Africa, the emancipation of former African colonies, and the civil rights movement in the United States – the editorial calls on the UN to “use its influence to once again remind us of the unfinished business of eradicating racism and urge the community of nations to remove the stain of racism on humanity”. Source

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