Racial Justice Resources

PC(USA) and other faith groups call for UN human rights inquiry in US

Statement from 14 churches and organizations follows debate and testimony from George Floyd’s brother

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The United Nations Human Rights Council met in Geneva last week to discuss the murder of George Floyd and human rights for people of African descent in the United States. (Photo by Mat Reding via Unsplash)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Global Christian leaders, including the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to create a Commission of Inquiry into the death of George Floyd and systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S. and other parts of the world in a statement that did not mince words.

“Anti-black racism and racist actions are violations of human rights,” read the statement, which came in response to debate in the UNHRC June 17 and 18 in Geneva. “These acts of racism against African descendant people are well documented historically and in our contemporary contexts. The historic roots of anti-black racism are grounded in the commodification of African lives as seen in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the East Africa Slave Trade, and the disregard for those who were enslaved and their descendants.

“The call for change has not been enough. Petitions to their nations’ capitals have not brought about the deep changes that are necessary in countries around the world. As Christians believing in the love of God and the call for justice in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, we join with organizations around the world in calling for change and to the upholding of the human rights of African descendant people.”

In addition to calling for the creation of the commission and for the United States government to cooperate with it, the statement called for action by churches too.

“We call upon our churches to learn about the ways in which members and congregations can help drive global change to combat racial injustice through the United Nations human rights mechanisms.

“Additionally, we ask that members:

  • Call for an end to militarization, police violence, the killings, and all other forms of violence against African descendant people.
  • Commit to dismantling racism and discrimination in all forms.
  • Embrace and encourage an anti-racist environment within communities with commitment to accountability.
  • Commit to reflection and introspection that will increase personal awareness and ways to be engaged in solving this global problem.”

In addition to the PC(USA), the statement was signed by 13 other Christian denominations and organizations, including The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

In its debate, the UNHRC heard from Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd.

“We salute the bravery of Mr. Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd who so movingly shared the tragic details of his brother’s last moments, conveying the trauma he and his family are experiencing following the loss of a much-loved member of their family in these circumstances,” the statement said.

“The United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) was an invitation from the UN for the world to recognize that African descendant people are a group whose rights have to be promoted and protected. Noting that there are over 200 million people of African descent in the Americas, the decade calls for recognition, justice and development. In naming the need for promotion and protection of human rights of African descendant people, the UN is ensuring that George Floyd and others receive justice for the grievous actions committed against them. We must ensure that each individual has the right to live in freedom with dignity and respect, and to have their human and civil rights guaranteed.”

Read more

United Nations human rights experts concerned about the United States

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