Statement on Systemic Racism

The Congregations of St. Joseph, an NGO in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC at the United Nations, condemns all forms of racism and xenophobia wherever and however they manifest themselves and in particular, at this time, systemic racism against persons of African descent, as made visible in the killing of George Floyd.  

George Floyd’s recent death at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, has brought the scourge of systemic racism to the world stage and to the halls of the United Nations in Geneva.  We applaud the Urgent Debate held at the Human Rights Council on June 17-18, 2020, and support the need for the United Nations and all member states to continue to address the “current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful protests.”

As Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, speaking for Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said on June 17, structural racism is endemic, spanning history and borders across the globe.  We support the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to engage in “decisive action . . . to address the pervasive racism that corrodes institutions of government, entrenches inequality and underlies so many violations of human rights.” We recognize that racism undergirds many of our institutional practices which are rife with inequality, from education and healthcare to the unequal application of the law.

We applaud the Human Rights Council recommendation A/HRC/43/L.50 which calls for the establishment of “an independent international commission of inquiry to establish the facts and circumstances relating to the systemic racism, alleged violations of international human rights law and abuses against Africans and people of African descent in the United States of America” and elsewhere.

Present in over 40 countries on five continents, we commit ourselves to work both locally, in the cities and countries where we are located, and, globally, with the United Nations, to change the economic, cultural and social structures that undergird systemic racism and xenophobia.