#UNIsOverParty: Calls to defund UN grow after it slams US for labeling Antifa domestic terrorists

A number of African countries have welcomed a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning racial discrimination against people of African descent


                            #UNIsOverParty: Calls to defund UN grow after it slams US for labeling Antifa domestic terrorists
The UN headquarters (Getty Images)

The United Nations is copping flak from a section of the US after the global organization's experts expressed concern over the Trump administration labeling members of Antifa “domestic terrorists”. Top US leaders including President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr slammed Antifa after violent protests spread across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis on May 25. Some even called for the UN to be defunded.

On Friday, June 19, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism said: “International human rights law protects the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. It is regrettable that the United States has chosen to respond to the protests in a manner that undermines these fundamental rights.”

While Trump said on May 31 that the US will be designating Antifa a terror organization, Barr said in a statement on the same day: “The violence instigated and carried out by antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

Ni Aolain said: “The loose use of terrorism rhetoric undermines legitimate protests and dampens freedom of expression in the United States, which has been a hallmark of US constitutional values, and a beacon far beyond its shores.” Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed concern over the US’ structural race discrimination.

Hundreds of protesters march in downtown Brooklyn over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer on June 05, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

 

Earlier this week, Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd pleaded with the UN Human Rights Council to probe the issue of police brutality in the US. He addressed council members in Geneva in a passionate pre-recorded video speech.

African nations welcome step

Are the UN's African member-states putting pressure on the body to address the issue of racism against people of African descent in the US? According to a report in the UN News, Bachelet is set to be leading efforts to take on the issue of systemic racism against the people of African descent in teh US by the police, the Human Rights Council sais on Friday. It said the resolution, which was decided unanimously without a vote, follows a rare Urgent Debate in the council earlier this week that was requested by the African group of nations in the wake of Floyd’s death.

“#HRC43 adopts by consensus res. strongly condemning racially discriminatory & violent practices perpetrated by law enforcement against Africans & people of African descent & excessive use of force against #PeacefulProtests & calls on States to cooperate w/ preparation of report,” the council tweeted.

While some delegates sought an international probe into the killings of members of the black community in the US and violence unleashed against demonstrators, others were of the opinion that the issue had an impact on all nations and needed a broader approach.

Speaking to the member-states as coordinator of the African Group, Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the UN Office, declared the Urgent Debate “an historic step” in the combat against racism of which the council could be “proud”.

“The international outrage caused by the tragic events that led to the death of George Floyd underlined the urgency and importance for the Human Rights Council to raise its voice against injustice and police brutality which African people and people of African descent are faced with every day in many regions of the world,” he said. The Council also heard declarations of support for a probe into violence against protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Black lives matter,” said Ambassador Coly Seck, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the UN Office. He said racism continues to happen in many countries and was in “flagrant contradiction” to the UN Charter.

Calls emerge for defunding UN

However, the UN’s step did not impress many. One Twitter user named slammed the UN over its concern and asked why the US was still funding the UN, headquartered in New York?

Responding to that user, another user named said: “The UN is no longer what it was founded to be.  No common sense & endless virtue signaling while coddling the likes or Russia, China, Venezuela & Cuba.”

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Getty Images)

 

Another user named said: “True. UN became a bystander who follows “political correctness” not the fact. As Japanese, we are funding them a lot too but we aren’t even the permanent members of the Security Council.”

There were also voices that said UN inaction wasn't even the organization's worst problem. One user Joe said: “We shouldn't. This isn't even the Useless Nations worst problem, don't forget they have China and Iran on the human rights counsel. They list Israel as the worst country on Earth for women's rights, not a country like Saudi Arabia or Iran.” 

US has withdrawn from the human rights council

Last month, the Trump administration faced criticism after pulling out of the World Health Organization -- another UN body -- after accusing it of having failed to handle the coronavirus pandemic efficiently and being biased towards China.

It was exactly two years ago in June 2018 that the US pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council citing its bias against longtime ally Israel and the body’s failure to reform. The then US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley even went to the extent of calling the council “hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights”.