Senior UN Leaders Speak Out on Injustice of Racism
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A group of 22 senior leaders in the UN who are African or of African descent have signed a statement that expresses their outrage at pervasive and systemic racism.

The signatories, all of whom hold the rank of Under Secretary-General, welcome initiatives to strengthen the global anti-racism discourse and to address systemic racism at all levels, including within the UN.

A group of 22 senior leaders in the UN who are African or of African descent have signed, in their personal capacities, a statement that expresses their outrage at pervasive and systemic racism, and emphasizes the need to go beyond just offering condemnation.

The statement titled, ‘On the Black Lives Matter Protests and other Mass Demonstrations against Systemic Racism and Police Brutality,’ stresses that, “To merely condemn expressions and acts of racism is not enough. We must go beyond and do more.” Highlighting outrage at the “injustice of racism that continues to be pervasive in our host country and across the world,” the signatories note that, as leaders in the multilateral system, it is incumbent upon them to “advocate for effective responses that would contribute to fight systemic racism, a global scourge that has been perpetuated over centuries.”

The statement highlights that 2024 will mark the end of the International Decade for People of African Descent, and indicates the leaders will use their collective voice to “contribute towards the realization of Africa’s own transformative vision contained in Agenda 2063,” which is consistent with the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The 22 signatories, all of whom hold the rank of Under Secretary-General, welcome initiatives by the UN Secretary-General to strengthen the global anti-racism discourse and to address systemic racism at all levels, including by having an “honest assessment of how we uphold the UN Charter within our institution.” These leaders emphasize that they “share the core beliefs and the values and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations that do not leave us the option to keep silent.”

The statement was released on 14 June 2020, in the context of the global protests at the killing of George Floyd in the hands of police. June 2020 also marks the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of the UN Conference on International Organization and signature of the Charter of the United Nations. Signed on 26 June 1945, the preamble to the UN Charter identifies the determination of the peoples of the united nations to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” as one of four defining objectives. 

The signatories are:

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
  • Zainab Hawa Bangura, Director-General, UN Office in Nairobi
  • Winnie Byanyima, Executive-Director, UNAIDS
  • Mohamed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel
  • Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide
  • François Lounceny Fall, Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa
  • Bience Gawanas, Special Adviser on Africa to the UN Secretary-General
  • Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • Bishar A. Hussein, Director-General, Universal Postal Union
  • Natalia Kanem, Executive-Director, UNFPA
  • Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • Kingsley Mamabolo, Head of the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive-Director, UN Women
  • Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic
  • Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa
  • Moussa D. Oumarou, Deputy Director General, International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Pramila Patten, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
  • Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union
  • Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • Leila Zerrougui, Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)

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