‘Reprehensible’: United Nations Experts Condemn UK’s Race Report

“In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact,” a UN panel said.
April 19, 2021, 12:59pm
‘Reprehensible’: United Nations Condemns UK’s Race Report
A protester and police officer pictured at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London last summer. Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

A United Nations panel has condemned a controversial government-backed report into racism in the UK, calling it “reprehensible” after the findings concluded structural racism did not exist in the country. 

The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said that last month’s report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities distorts facts around racial discrimination, and could lead to more racism in the UK. 

“In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent,” the panel said. “The report cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy.”

“This attempt to normalize white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward,” they continued. 

The UK report, commissioned in response to the Black Lives Matter protests last year concluded that racial inequality was more likely down to “geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion” than structural racism. It also stated that the UK "should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries".

At the time, many charities and politicians condemned the findings of the report, while bodies cited in the study distanced themselves from its finding. Labour MP David Lammy said the report was an “insult” to those who had suffered at the hands of racial discrimination, while the Runnymede Trust said that the report was “lacking in intellectual rigour, academic credibility and stakeholder engagement.”