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HRC 54 Side Event: Facilitating the Journey to Racial Justice
Remarks by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
October 6, 2023

Ambassador Michèle Taylor’s Remarks at the Human Rights Council Side Event

Facilitating the Journey to Racial Justice

20 Years of Work of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

Human Rights Council – 54th Session

Thank you so much, Madam Chair, for all the work you do as chair of this Working Group, and to all members of the Working Group for the tireless and valuable efforts. 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues:  The United States is pleased to be one of only a handful of countries to have accepted country visits by the Working Group on People of African Descent on not one, but, like Ecuador, on two occasions. 

As you may know, the United States has a standing invitation to all thematic Special Procedures Mandate Holders, and we call on all countries, and particularly HRC member states, to extend a standing invitation and to accept Working Group visits. 

 In just the last two years, the United States has received visits by: 

  • the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues;  
  • the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement,  
  • and later this month, we will host the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. 

The United States has taken a number of steps in recent years to advance racial equity and justice, particularly for people of African descent. 

Starting on his first day in office, President Biden has issued key Executive Orders on “Advancing” and later “Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”   He also launched the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.  Advancing racial equity, especially for people of African Descent, is a top priority for the Biden/Harris Administration.   

Highlighting our longstanding commitment to partnership, President Biden recently created the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States.  This Council will advance equity and opportunity for our African Diaspora and strengthen cultural, social, political, and economic ties between African communities, the global African Diaspora, and the United States. 

One of the greatest challenges we face in the United States is systemic racism against people of African descent in the law enforcement and the criminal justice systems.  As I told the Council yesterday, President Biden’s 2022 Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety is making federal policing more effective and accountable through various policy changes, including better policies on the use of force and more training on how to de-escalate situations. 

The United States’ new Strategic Plan on Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry makes proactive investments to prevent crime and reduce unnecessary interactions with the criminal justice system.  It also supports rehabilitation during incarceration and then facilitates successful reentry to society. 

The United States would be pleased to share more information on these initiatives and learn from countries that are also grappling with their legacies of systemic racism against, and underinvestment in, their communities of African descent.  I am especially grateful for the opportunity to hear from African colleagues, whose experiences and perspectives are invaluable to the United States.   

As much progress as we have made, we recognize that there is still so much to be done. Thank you again, and I look forward to hearing from other panelists about their experiences.