United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that white supremacy and neo-Nazi movements were becoming a “transnational threat” and exploited the coronavirus pandemic to bolster their support.
Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, Guterres said the danger of hate-motivated groups is increasing every day.
“White supremacy and neo-Nazi movements are more than national terrorist threats. They are becoming a transnational threat,” he told the Geneva forum. Without naming the states, Guterres added: “Today, these extremist movements represent the first threat to internal security in several countries”.
In the United States, racial tensions simmered during Donald Trump’s turbulent four-year presidency. His successor Joe Biden said the Jan. 6 siege of the US Capitol by Trump supporters was led by “thugs, insurgents, political extremists and white supremacists.”
“Too often these hate groups are encouraged by people in positions of responsibility in a way that was considered unimaginable not long ago,” said Guterres. “We need coordinated action at the global level to overcome this grave and growing danger.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will report to the council on March 18 on systemic racism against people of African descent. The global investigation was launched after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last May when a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Guterres also accused authorities in some countries of using the COVID-19 pandemic to deploy “brutal security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent.”
“At times, access to vital information about COVID-19 has been withheld – while deadly disinformation has been magnified – including by those in power,” he said.
Guterres cautioned against the power of digital platforms and the use and abuse of data.
“I urge all member states to place human rights at the center of regulatory frameworks and legislation on the development and use of digital technologies,” he said. “We need a secure, fair and open digital future that does not infringe on privacy or dignity.”
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