The president of the Human Rights Council, Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, wearing a protective face mask is…
The president of the Human Rights Council, Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, is seen on a TV screen during a press conference as part of the resuming of a UN Human Rights Council session, June 15, 2020, in Geneva.

GENEVA - Delegates attending the 43rd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council will hold an urgent debate Wednesday on alleged systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.

Tragic events unfolded May 25 in the U.S. city of Minneapolis after the death of  African American George Floyd while in police custody, triggering an urgent debate.  

This is only the fifth time in the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 14-year history such an event will take place. The request for the racism debate was made in a letter signed by more than 50 African nations to the president of the council, Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger. 

Protesters demonstrate Saturday, June 13, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

The letter states the death of George Floyd is not an isolated incident noting other people of African descent have suffered the same fate due to what the letter says is unchecked police brutality in the U.S. 

The African countries are calling on the council to urgently address the systemic racism that produces such racial violence particularly against people of African descent throughout the world. 

Tichy-Fisslberger tells VOA discussions will not just focus on one country but will examine racism elsewhere. 

“When I said it is not against the United States, I mean there is complaints about a lot of racism in many countries of this world, of course, in Europe but not only. You find it all over the world. And, if you listen to what people have to say, I think they will just come up with statements on describing different situations in different countries,”  she said. 

Both delegates and non-governmental organizations will take part in the U.N. Human Rights Council debate. A resolution is likely to be adopted at the end of the event.  

FILE - Overview of the session of the Human Rights Council during the speech of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 27, 2020. Picture taken with a fisheye lens.

Tichy-Fisslberger says the United States, which is not a member of the council, normally does not attend council meetings. She says U.S. delegates most likely will follow the debate via webcast, which is in line with what it has been doing recently. 

The U.S. has not commented. However, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, issued a statement last week expressing “horror, anger, and grief” at what he called George Floyd’s senseless death. He said the public reaction in the U.S. following this tragedy showed the American people’s desire to overcome racial injustice.