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Race and Reparations

Much will of course hinge on the action taken by respective governments in the follow-through. The execution will also call for humane treatment of blacks by whites.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

More than one hundred years after the term “reparations” was the subject of international discourse in the aftermath of the First World War, this form of economic reprisal is being alluded to again, with United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelot calling for reparations to protect the historically persecuted blacks.

No less critical is the global report of the UN, which states that the police in North America, Europe and Latin America use racial profiling and excessive force. Both are entrenched or arguably institutionalised in three vast swathes of the world.

Racism against people of African descent remains systemic in many parts of the world, the United Nations human rights chief has said, calling for states to dismantle discrimination and prosecute law enforcement officials for unlawful killings. Her report assumes tremendous significance in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May last year.

The killer was awarded a prolonged jail term. Racism against people of African descent remains systemic in many parts of the world, the United Nations human rights chief has said, calling for states to dismantle discrimination and prosecute law enforcement officials for unlawful killings.

Structural racism creates barriers to minorities’ access to jobs, healthcare, housing, education and justice. “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,” she said in the report to the UN Human Rights Council.

She has welcomed a “promising initiative” by President Biden in signing an executive order in January to address racial inequity across the country. There is little doubt that this is a noble initiative to address the ignoble scourge of racism across continents. The report cited 190 deaths of Africans and people of African descent worldwide at the hands of law enforcement officials who are “rarely held accountable”.

She has somehow skirted Asian descent, exemplified by the killing of six women in Atlanta in March. Her report selected seven “emblematic cases”, including that of Floyd, indeed cases that have galvanised the Black Lives Matter protest movement.

Much will of course hinge on the action taken by respective governments in the follow-through. The execution will also call for humane treatment of blacks by whites.

The scourge is most prevalent in countries with a legacy of slavery, the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans, or colonialism resulting in enshacklement of large communities of people of African descent, the report stated.

“Systemic racism needs a systemic response,” Bachelet said. “There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice.” She has advanced a robust presentation.