Biden administration invites UN experts on racism to visit U.S. in bid to combat racial injustice

biden-administration-invites-un-experts-on-racism-to-visit-us.-in-bid-to-combat-racial-injustice

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about the release of the 2021 Congressional Report Pursuant to the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act at the Department of State in Washington, July 12, 2021.

Manuel Balce Ceneta | Pool | Reuters

The Biden administration has invited United Nations experts on racism and human rights to visit the U.S. in an effort to address domestic racial justice and equality.

“Responsible nations must not shrink from scrutiny of their human rights record; rather, they should acknowledge it with the intent to improve,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement released late Tuesday. 

“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.”

The State Department 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 a statement. Invitations to other UN experts who “report and advise on thematic human rights issues” will be forthcoming. 

Blinken also used the statement to welcome the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution on Tuesday that calls for action to combat systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent in the context of law enforcement. 

The invitation comes at a pivotal time for racial justice issues in the U.S.. The murder of unarmed Black man George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020 prompted nationwide protests against police brutality and racism, as well as calls for legislation and government action. 

In light of the protests, both of the special rapporteurs who have been invited to the U.S. signed a UN Human Rights Council statement last year that called for “reparative intervention for historical and contemporary racial justice” around the world.

“One reason it is important to look beyond the borders of the United States in the face of demands for seismic change on the racial justice front is that international human rights norms require and offer the foundation for a better system than the one currently in place in this country,” said E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, in a statement last year.

Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that typically have the role of compiling information on their respective human rights issue, undertaking visits to different countries and submitting reports to the U.N., among other responsibilities. 

The State Department has not provided additional details about the visit of the special rapporteurs, and did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. 

The invitation serves as a stark contrast to the Trump administration’s contempt for UN approaches to human rights issues, especially after the former president pulled the U.S. out of the UN Human Rights Council in 2018

President Joe Biden rejoined it earlier this year, and made fighting racial injustice a key part of his 2020 campaign.

“As the President has repeatedly made clear, great nations such as ours do not hide from our shortcomings; they acknowledge them openly and strive to improve with transparency,” Blinken said. 

“In so doing, we not only work to set the standard for national responses to these challenges, we also strengthen our democracy, and give new hope and motivation to human rights defenders across the globe.”

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