UN experts condemn UK racism report

Diplomatic Correspondent

20 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

A group of UN human rights experts on Monday strongly rejected a UK government-backed report into racism and ethnic disparities in the country.    

They said the review further distorted and falsified historic facts, and could even fuel racism, racial discrimination and negative racial stereotypes.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was set up by the UK government after the Black Lives Matter anti-racism protests erupted last year, presented its report on March 31.

“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,” said the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

“The report cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalize 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.”

In a statement issued in Geneva on Monday, the working group condemned the report’s assertion that while there might be overt acts of racism in the UK, there was no institutional racism.  

“The report’s conclusion that racism is either a product of the imagination of people of African descent or of discrete, individualized incidents ignores the pervasive role that the social construction of race was designed to play in society, particularly in normalizing atrocity, in which the British state and institutions played a significant role.”

The experts said the report omits any recognition or analysis of institutional racism by international human rights experts, including the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent’s 2012 review after its country visit to the UK, the 2016 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance’s report following her 2018 country visit to the UK. 

“Without exception, these reports have highlighted the damaging impact of institutional racism and deep-rooted inequities in areas such as health, education, employment, housing, stop-and-search practices, and the criminal justice system in the UK,” the experts said. 

“The reality is that People of African descent continues to experience poor economic, social, and health outcomes at vastly disproportionate rates in the UK.

“While racial disparities may not always stem from racism or racial discrimination, there is also compelling evidence that the roots of these disparities lie in institutional racism and structural discrimination as they clearly do not reflect the preferences or priorities of the communities facing structural disadvantage.


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