UN experts say UK’s race report tries to ‘normalise white supremacy’ and may fuel racism

Downing Street In the media

United Nations human rights experts have urged the government to reject its commissioned report into race in the UK because it attempts to “normalise white supremacy”.

The UN working group of experts on people of African descent said it “categorically rejects and condemns the analysis and findings” of the highly contentious report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED).

In a damning statement released on Monday (April 19), the working group warned the Downing Street commissioned race report could actually “fuel racism”.

The statement said: “In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent.”

Report found no evidence ‘of actual institutional racism’

Downing Street commissioned the CRED report – which was published in March – following Black Lives Matter protests around the UK. It said that though racism remained a “real force”, Britain was no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.” Dr Tony Sewell, the chairman of the commission, said there was no evidence “of actual institutional racism” in Britain and told the BBC the term “is sometimes wrongly applied” adding: “it’s been a sort of a catch-all phrase for micro-aggressions or acts of racial abuse.

“Also people use it interchangeably – systematic racism, structural racism [are] just being used wrongly.”

Britain, the commission’s report suggested, should be seen as an international exemplar of racial equality.

Sewell’s ‘mythical representation of enslavement’

However, the UN experts have called for the commission to be disbanded over its “deliberate attempt” to misrepresent slavery, evidencing Sewell’s foreword to the CRED report, which stated: “There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain”.

This is a “mythical representation of enslavement” attempting to sanitise history, the UN group said. “Seeking to silence the brutal role of enslavers, the mind-numbing generational wealth they accrued, and the social capital and political influence they gained from exploiting black bodies is a deliberate attempt at historical misrepresentation.

“The report’s sanitised version of history devalues the experiences, and deaths of millions of Africans who were violently uprooted, taken to the Americas where they were further exploited, brutalised and dehumanised.”

The UN experts accused CRED of citing “dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy” through the use of  “familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy”.

They added: “This attempt to normalise white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward.”

PM and commission say experts have ‘misrepresented the report’

Both the prime minister and the commission said the UN group had misrepresented the findings of the race report, with Boris Johnson’s spokesperson saying: “We remain proud of the UK’s long history as a human rights champion and we encourage everyone to read the original report in full.”

Responding to the UN experts’ claims the CRED report might “normalise white supremacy” the spokesperson said: “Absolutely not. This report in no way condones racist behaviour and in fact it highlights that racism and inequality are still problems for our country.”

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