Rights Council in Geneva to debate racism and police violence

Racism and police violence will be the focus of discussions of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council following the death of George Floyd in the US last month. © Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi

The United Nations Human Rights Council has decided to hold a special debate about racism and police violence.

This content was published on June 15, 2020 - 12:49 with Keystone-ATS/AFP

The discussions, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, follow the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of the police in the United States last month. This sparked worldwide street protests including in Switzerland.

The unanimous decision came as the Geneva-based councilExternal link resumed its 43rd session, which had been put on hold three months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the lead up to the session, Burkina Faso called for an urgent debate on racism on behalf of African nations. More than 600 non-governmental organisations also made an appeal for a debate.

“The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident,” said Dieudonné Désiré Sougouri, Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the UN.

It is only the fifth time in the history of the council that it will discuss the issue of “systemic racism”.

Only some delegates were physically present in Geneva on Monday and they had to wear protective face masks as part of Covid-19 health safety regulations. Others participated in the session via remote link.

Among the numerous resolutions to be discussed over this week is the launch of a fact-finding mission to Libya to examine human rights violations. Switzerland has sponsored the resolution.

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