Race report ‘attempts to normalise white supremacy’ – UN human rights experts

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·4 min read

A controversial report into racial disparities attempts to “normalise white supremacy” and the Government should reject its findings, human rights experts from the UN have warned.

The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said it “categorically rejects and condemns” the findings of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred).

Downing Street has rejected the criticism, and said the report “in no way condones racist behaviour”.

The Government-commissioned report said racism is a “real force” but that Britain is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.

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Its chairman said it had found no evidence of “institutional racism”, and the report criticised the way the term has been applied, saying it should not be used as a “catch-all” phrase for any microaggression.

The group has urged the Government to reject the findings and called for the Commission to be “disbanded or reconstituted”.

In a statement released by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, the experts said the report “repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies”.

They continued: “The report cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy.

“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.”

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our view is that this report misrepresents the findings.

“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.”

In response to the claim that the Cred report attempts to “normalise white supremacy”, the No 10 spokesman 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.”

The Commission said there is much evidence to suggest different experiences of family life can explain many disparities in education outcomes and crime.

The UN group said the suggestion that family structure rather than institutionalised discrimination is a central part of the black experience is a “tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the UK”.

It said the report has failed to recognise accounts of institutional racism in health, education, employment, housing, the justice system and other areas in the UK, raised in domestic reports and by international human rights experts.

Mr Johnson has previously called the review a “very interesting piece of work” but admitted more needed to be done to address racism.

“I don’t say the Government is going to agree with absolutely everything in it, but it has some original and stimulating work in it that I think people need to read and to consider,” Mr Johnson said.

Following its publication on March 31, the Cred report was criticised as being divisive, while it was also accused of “putting a positive spin on slavery and empire”.

The Commission has said any suggestion that it would play down the atrocities of slavery is “as absurd as it is offensive”.

In the report’s foreword, commission chairman Dr Tony Sewell said a teaching resource should look at the influence of the UK during its Empire period and how “Britishness influenced the Commonwealth” as well as how local communities influenced “modern Britain”.

He added: “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 remodelled African/Britain.”

The UN experts said the report’s “mythical representation of enslavement is an attempt to sanitise the history of the trade in enslaved Africans”.

They urged the Government to ensure the “accurate reflection of historical facts”, adding: “The distortion and falsification of these historic facts may license further racism, the promotion of negative racial stereotypes, and racial discrimination.”