International Law in Brief
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Addresses Global Systemic Racism and Policing
By: Emma Schoenberger | June 22, 2020 - 2:58pm
On June 17, 2020, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement about “the Human Rights Council Urgent Debate on current racially inspired human rights violations.” In her statement, Bachelet acknowledges that the murder of George Floyd “symbolise[s] the systemic racism that harms millions of people of African descent” and is “emblematic of the excessive use of disproportionate force by law enforcement…across the globe.” She calls for “decisive action … to address the … racism that” leads to a variety of inequalities around the world, including “refusals of housing and mortgage loans … practical restrictions on the right to vote and over-incarceration in prisons.” Addressing the issue of policing in particular, she refers to instruments, including the Human Rights Guidelines on the Use of Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement, that can guide nations as they consider how to reform or “reconstruct [their police forces] from the ground up.” Finally, she makes specific suggestions about how the Council and member states can further the interests of equality around the world (e.g. adhering to “[t]he International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination” and “disaggregat[ing] data by ethnicity or race” for a clearer understanding of existing issues).