WASHINGTON — Disturbing images of American cops using excessive force have touched a nerve in the United Nations.
This week the U.N.'s top human rights panel will discuss “systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests” in the United States and elsewhere, after dozens of African countries expressed alarm over the issue.
The debate in the U.N. Human Rights Council has been set for this Wednesday, the group said in a statement, and follows a request raised by Burkina Faso on behalf of 54 African countries.
“The death of George Floyd, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident.”
“The death of George Floyd, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident,” Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri, Burkina Faso’s U.N. representative, said Monday. “The death of George Floyd led to protests around the world in protest of injustice and police brutality that persons of African descent face on a daily basis in many regions of the world.”
The discussion will serve as yet another forum for analyzing the practices and shortcomings of American police officers, after protests erupted over the killing of Floyd, an unnamed black man, by cops in Minneapolis.
The U.N. Human Rights Council is hardly a forum the American government is likely to take seriously, however. The U.S. quit the 47-member group in a huff back in 2018, accusing it of harboring anti-Israeli bias and welcoming members with some of the worst rights records on earth.
An appeal from the leaders of Africa, likewise, may not hold much sway personally with President Trump — who once famously derided African nations as “shithole countries.”
The African diplomats’ letter seeking Wednesday’s debate noted the “international outrage” sparked by the death of Floyd, which it called part of a grim global trend.
“The numbers of previous cases of unarmed people of African descent who met the same fate because of uncontrolled police violence are legion,” the letter said.
African countries may prepare a resolution to be considered during the debate, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Austria's ambassador and current president of the Council, told a press conference on Monday in Geneva, Reuters reported.
Cover: A demonstrator tries to pass between a police line wearing riot gear as they push back demonstrators outside of the White House, June 1, 2020 in Washington D.C., during a protest after the death of George Floyd. (Photo: JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP via Getty Images)