United Nations chief cites George Floyd death in push for global reparations

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is calling for global reparations in a newly released report citing the death of George Floyd and referencing the systemic racism worldwide against individuals of African descent.

In summary, the report states: “The murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 and the ensuing mass protests worldwide have marked a watershed in the fight against racism. In some countries, there is now broader acknowledgment of the systemic nature of the racism that affects the lives of Africans and people of African descent and of the need to address the past in order to secure future conditions of life that uphold the dignity and rights of all.”

Bachelet specifically referred to the “gratuitous brutality” in the death of George Floyd.

“I am calling on all states to stop denying — and start dismantling — racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent, and to confront past legacies and deliver redress,” Bachelet proclaimed in a video statement.

The former president of Chile also said: “States must show stronger political will to accelerate action for racial justice, redress and equality through specific, time-bound commitments to achieve results. This will involve reimagining policing, and reforming the criminal justice system, which have consistently produced discriminatory outcomes for people of African descent.”

The U.N. report examined 190 deaths, most of which occurred in the United States, “to show how law enforcement officers are rarely held accountable for rights violations and crimes against people of African descent.” It also contends that financial reparations alone are not enough to make amends. The report states “restitution, rehabilitation, acknowledgment of injustices, apologies, memorialization, educational reforms and ‘guarantees’ that such injustices won’t happen again” should also be addressed according to the Associated Press.

“There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice,” the report, which took a year to compile, states. The findings are based on discussions with over 340 individuals who are primarily of African descent, as well as so-called experts. There were more than 100 contributions in writing, including those from various governments.

Bachelet praised the efforts of activist groups such as Black Lives Matter, proclaiming they helped provide “grassroots leadership through listening to communities” and that they should receive “funding, public recognition, and support.”

“Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The lives of people of color matter. All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights: that is what this council, like my office, stands for,” she declared.

“We could not find a single example of a state that has fully reckoned with the past or comprehensively accounted for the impacts of the lives of people of African descent today,” stated Mona Rishmawi, who heads a unit on non-discrimination in Bachelet’s office. “Our message, therefore, is that this situation is untenable.”

Compensation should be examined and contemplated at the “collective and the individual level,” Rishmawi posited. She added that any such process “starts with acknowledgment” of past wrongs and “it’s not one-size-fits-all.” She also stated that countries should reflect on their own pasts and practices to assess how to proceed.

Rishmawi remarked that Bachelet’s team had concluded that “a main part of the problem is that many people believe the misconceptions that the abolition of slavery, the end of the transatlantic trade and colonialism have removed the racially discriminatory structures built by those practices. We found that this is not true,” she said, while denouncing “associating blackness with criminality … there is a need to address this.”

Bachelet also welcomed a “promising initiative” by President Joe Biden that purportedly addresses racial inequity, which involves treating racial groups differently based on their perceived need.

The idea of global reparations was torched on social media and so was the U.N.:

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