Ms Amina Mohammed, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General
By Harrison Arubu
United Nations – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, on Wednesday, echoed the organisation’s call for concerted global action against racism.
In a passionate speech to a virtual meeting of the Human Rights Council, Mohammed said the “poison of racism still rages”, and must be fought to stop.
She highlighted the suffering of people of African descent, saying they remained trapped in “generational cycles of poverty created by unfair obstacles to their development’’.
“On a personal level, from my high school days in the United Kingdom through my career across the private sector, civil society and now international public service, I have grown a thick skin.
“I have even become numb, to the extent that one has forgotten how to feel the injustice of racial slurs and my human right to live a life of dignity and respect.
“When I consider that we are born equal, only to find that the colour of one’s skin sentences one to a life of discrimination and injustice.
“I ask myself, I ask all of you, I ask people everywhere: How can we possibly continue to turn the other way? Enough is enough,’’ she said.
Her remarks came three days after a group of 22 senior UN officials issued a joint statement denouncing racism and demanding international action.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also been strident in his call for “dismantling racist structures and confronting the systemic ills of institutions’’.
Mohammed said the Secretary-General had launched a one-year process to address the concerns raised by the senior staff members.
“The United Nations has a duty to respond to the anguish that has been felt by so many for so long.
“This cause is at the heart of our organisation’s identity.
“Equal rights are enshrined in our founding Charter.
“Just as we fought apartheid, years ago, so must we fight the hatred, oppression and humiliation today.
“We must also never forget the crimes and the negative impacts, in Africa and beyond, of the transatlantic slave trade, one of history’s most appalling manifestations of human barbarity.
“Across the world, Afro-descendants continue to be trapped in generational cycles of poverty created by unfair obstacles to their development.
“They receive unequal services and face unjustifiable housing and employment practises.
“Racial profiling is widespread,’’ Mohammed added.
She said black communities were among those mostly affected by COVID-19 due to poverty and “structural racism”.
“As we recover from the pandemic, returning to these systems is out of the question.
“We also need measures that will genuinely re-set law enforcement.
“The battle against racism did not end with this or that legislation and racism was not vanquished by this or that election.
“The poison of racism still rages and so the fight must still be waged,’’ she said.