US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



TAKE ACTION: UNHRC urgent debate on race-based human rights violations

Jun 15, 2020

Our collective voice has been heard! The UN Human Rights Council will be holding an urgent debate on “race-based human rights violations, systemic racism, police violence against persons of African descent, and violence against peaceful protests." This unprecedented meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 17 at 3:00pm Geneva time (9:00am New York time). The session will be public and can be viewed online at this link:

Last Friday, the African Group (which represents the 54 African countries in the United Nations) submitted a request for an Urgent Debate during this week’s Council session which resumed after it was suspended in March due to COVID-19. While the request for an “Urgent Debate” (which is technically equivalent to a special session) is not specific to the U.S., it is very clear that racism and impunity for police killings of people of African descent in the United States including recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were the impetus for the request. 

George Floyd’s barbaric murder has sparked an unstoppable global movement demanding concrete and bold actions to end racist policing practices and impunity for police violence.  

While we recognize the global nature of racism and police violence, we must now increase our pressure on governments, especially members of the UN Human Rights Council, to ensure that the Urgent Debate and its outcome, are focused on efforts to hold the United States accountable. It should mandate the creation of an independent international accountability mechanism to document and investigate extrajudicial killings of unarmed Black men and women, and police violence against protesters and journalists.

Some countries have already been subject to fierce pressure from the Trump Administration, which is trying to discourage action at the UN Human Rights Council that would single out the issues of systemic racism and police violence in the U.S.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you live the United States, please contact foreign embassies in Washington D.C. that are members of the UNHRC (see list here) especially U.S. allies and urge them to support international accountability for police killings in the U.S. 

And if you live outside the U.S., please contact your Foreign Ministry or your country’s UN Mission in Geneva and let them know that you support the call made by families of victims of police killings in the United States and over 660 groups from 66 countries to mandate an independent Commission of Inquiry. This is the only credible accountability measure that can effectively respond to the current human rights crisis in the United States.