President Donald Trump’s seesawing response to the deadly racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., has been rebuked by countless politicians, business executives, community groups and religious leaders.
The leaders of Britain and Germany spoke about the need to condemn such violence.
Now the United Nations has weighed in, too.
Without mentioning Trump by name, a body of U.N. experts on Wednesday denounced “the failure at the highest political level of the United States of America to unequivocally reject and condemn” racist violence, saying it was “deeply concerned by the example this failure could set for the rest of the world.”
Trump’s wavering responses to the violence — he has blamed “many sides,” but also singled out the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi groups and white supremacists for condemnation — has roiled his administration, but also unsettled rights advocates around the world.
“We were shocked and horrified by what happened,” the committee’s chairwoman, Anastasia Crickley, said in an interview, expressing disgust at the televised images of white supremacists’ torchlit parade through Charlottesville. “I was horrified as well by the way leaders of that movement were able to state afterwards that they felt secure in their support.”
In a two-page decision that was dated Aug. 18 but released on Wednesday, a day after Washington was informed, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination invoked “early action and urgent warning procedures” in deploring the violence and urging the United States to investigate.
The urgent-warning procedure allows the committee to draw attention to situations that could “spiral into terrible events” and require immediate action, Crickley said.
The committee last invoked the procedures last year, when it condemned “reports of killings, summary executions, disappearances and torture, many of which appear to have an ethnic character,” in Burundi.
The committee called the Charlottesville violence, which took place mainly on Aug. 11 and 12, “horrifying” and said it was “alarmed by the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by individuals belonging to groups of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred.”
The committee cited two victims by name: Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a driver plowed a car into a crowd, and Deandre Harris, 20, who was savagely beaten by white supremacists wielding poles.
The committee called on the U.S. to identify and address the root causes of racism and to thoroughly investigate racial discrimination, in particular against “people of African descent, ethnic or ethno-religious minorities, and migrants.”
Although doing so is rare, this was not the first time the committee has invoked the urgent-warning procedures in response to events in the United States.
In 2006, it expressed concerns about the Western Shoshone, an American Indian community that had filed a complaint against President George W. Bush’s administration as part of a long-running land dispute.