Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Demonstrators climb atop a truck while blocking all lanes of traffic on Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., on May 29, 2020, while protesting the Monday death of George Floyd.
Noah Berger/AP
Citizenship

Countries That Contributed to Slavery Must Be Held Accountable: UN Human Rights Chief


Why Global Citizens Should Care
We cannot end poverty and achieve the UN’s Global Goals without addressing racial inequalities. Inequalities and discrimination globally impact progress towards all of the Global Goals — including education, health care, and more — while Global Goal 16 promotes peace and justice through institutions that are effective, accountable, and inclusive. You can join us and take action here on racial injustice, and you can support our Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign to help ensure everyone, everywhere — including people of colour and the world’s marginalised communities — can access the tools needed to combat COVID-19.

It’s time for the world to confront slavery and colonialism as experienced by their victims. This is the message at the core of a speech that was delivered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

Bachelet was speaking at a debate held on June 17, in Geneva, Switzerland, after African nations called for an urgent discussion on the slave trade and colonialism.

“Behind today’s racial violence, systemic racism, and discriminatory policing lies the failure to acknowledge and confront the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism,” Bachelet said.

The request for the debate followed recent anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests held in the United States and globally following the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a police officer. 

At the debate held by the United Nations Human Rights Council  — a group of 47 countries tasked with promoting and protecting human rights globally — countries were urged to confront the role they played in the slave trade, which resulted in millions of Africans being enslaved.

Related Stories June 17, 2020 How Racism and Discrimination Prevent Access to Good Health and Well-Being for All

Bachelet also said countries need to acknowledge that systemic racism and police brutality are a consequence of slavery and colonialism, and that time has also come understand the full scope of racism.

Speaking about police brutality, Bachelet said this issue also needs to be addressed urgently. 

“This symbol of systemic racism has become emblematic of the excessive use of disproportionate force by law enforcement, against people of African descent, against people of colour, and against indigenous peoples, and racial and ethnic minorities in many countries across the globe,” Bachelet added.

Related Stories June 18, 2020 4 Things the World Can Learn From South Africa About Racial Justice

Bachelet said countries that were involved in the atrocities should “make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including through formal apologies, truth-telling processes, and reparations in various forms”.

She ended her address by saying: “Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The lives of people of colour matter. All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights: that is what this council, like my office, stands for.”