by Doreen Akiyo Yomoah
Yesterday, the UN had an Urgent Debate about systemic racism and police brutality in response to the peaceful protests (and sometimes violent reactions from the police) that have sprung up in recent weeks in the US and around the world. While the protests were an immediate reaction to George Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chauvin, it is also a reaction to the centuries of systemic direct, structural and cultural violence against people of African descent all over the world.
This debate was held at the request of the government of Burkina Faso. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed called the debate “historic”.
The Government of Burkina Faso and the Africa Group are calling for an independent commission to investigate systemic racism in the United States and hold law enforcement accountable. E. Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, said during the debate that “the world is witnessing the largest transnational mobilization against systemic racism in law enforcement sparked by the chilling images of the police killing of George Floyd”.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, activists and diplomats told Reuters that “US and Australian officials had lobbied African countries to tone down their draft resolution”, that would call for an independent commission to investigate the US. They seem to have been successful thus far: according to Reuters, the draft resolution does not contain any mention of an independent commission or the US.
This is not okay.
The International Service for Human Rights has requested urgent help to prevent the US from skirting accountability. You can help by writing to foreign ministries and sending a letter of your letter to their embassies in Geneva.
The most important countries to focus on are:
- Africa: Burkina Faso, Morocco and the Central African Republic;
- Latin America: México, Argentina, Chile, Peru (Human Rights Council members)
- Europe: the EU. the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Italy and Spain are Human Rights Council members;
- Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Armenia; and
- Asia: Japan, Republic of Korea, India, Fiji, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Download the Women’s March Global newsletter for a list of ministry and embassy contacts and draft tweets.
Let them know that:
We will not let the world go back to business as usual.
We will not accept this lack of accountability.
We will not continue to accept racialized police brutality.
Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is the secretary of Women’s March Geneva.