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UN rights body to hold urgent debate on racism
update:June 17,2020
GENEVA/UNITED NATIONS, June 17,2020 -- The UN Human Rights Council has decided to hold an urgent debate on "current racially inspired human rights violations" Wednesday during its resumed 43rd session.
In a statement, the UN rights body said on Monday that the debate will focus on "the current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and the violence against peaceful protests," following a request made by Burkina Faso on behalf of the African Group, a UN regional group of African states.
In a letter to the UN rights body, Burkina Faso said that the death of George Floyd in the U.S. city of Minneapolis "did not amount to an isolated incident."
In the meantime, more than 20 senior officials in the United Nations who are African or of African descent have put their names to a personal and hard-hitting statement, expressing their outrage at pervasive and systemic racism, UN News reported Sunday.
Among the signatories are World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Executive Director of the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS Winnie Byanyima, and Executive Director of the UN Population Fund Natalia Kanem.
The statement recalled the death of African-American George Floyd, who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has triggered protests against racism and police brutality across the globe.
The leaders called on the UN to "step up and act decisively to help end systemic racism against people of African descent and other minority groups," citing Article 1 of the UN Charter, which stipulates that the intergovernmental organization shall promote and encourage "respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."
The expression of solidarity with peaceful demonstrations is "well in keeping with our responsibilities and obligations as international civil servants to stand up and speak out against oppression," the officials said, adding "we share the core beliefs and the values and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations that do not leave us the option to keep silent." 
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