Black Lives Matter

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Black Lives Matter and the UN Human Rights System: Reflections on the Human Rights Council Urgent Debate

The protests against the police killings of George Floyd and many other Black people in the United States catalyzed a transnational movement. Around the world, people mobilized to express solidarity with protesters in the United States while also challenging U.S. imperialism, as well as systemic racism, colonialism, and police brutality in their own countries. The transnational dimension of this racial justice uprising was not coincidental. Rather, it reflected the transnational histories of colonialism and transatlantic slavery that shape systemic racism in law enforcement in different parts of the world, histories whose legacies continue to drive contemporary structures of racism. Through this uprising, the tireless work of Black Lives Matter movement organizers and other racial justice advocates have definitively shifted the transnational discourse surrounding race and structural inequality. Within weeks of the initial protests, a coalition of movement and NGO actors played a crucial role in forcing the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold an Urgent Debate on systemic racism in law enforcement. In the wake of…

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Redistributing Punishment: The Limited Vision of Coercive Human Rights

In an eloquent blog post written in June 2020, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard acknowledged the structural racism and systemic injustice that breed the ‘state-sponsored racial violence’ which the brutal killing of George Floyd so painfully exemplified. She asked: what can we do — what must…

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International Law and the Right to Food: What We Can Learn from Racial Justice Movements

Until very recently, international law usually dealt with questions of race and racism through two primary mechanisms: denial and containment. On the one hand, the outlawing and criminalisation of the most egregious forms of racial discrimination contributed to the narrative that international law was the polar opposite and even the primary antagonist of racism, which was…

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‘Racism will not pass’…

In her excellent recent post, Sejal Parmar takes us through the UN Human Rights Council’s ‘urgent debate’ on racism in US law enforcement that took place in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in May. That debate was initiated by a draft resolution from Burkina Faso (on behalf of the Group of African…

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The Internationalisation of Black Lives Matter at the Human Rights Council

‘Black Lives Matter’ resonated at the Human Rights Council on 17 June during the urgent debate on the ‘current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests’. The stirring words of Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, the speech of Michelle Bachelet, the UN…

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