Juneteenth and the Urgent Challenge of Human Rights and Racial Justice
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Juneteenth and the Urgent Challenge of Human Rights and Racial Justice

June 17, 2021

UN Global Compact Network USA celebrates the adoption of Juneteenth as new US federal holiday. There is a global struggle for human rights that takes on different iterations around the world. Racial justice in the United States is a significant part of this global movement to achieve human rights for all and is required if we are to achieve the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs additionally focus on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. One of the biggest barriers to achieving a sustainable future aligned with the SDGs in the United States is the racial inequality.

In 2020, 1 in 1,000 Black men and boys can be expected to be killed by police at some point in their lifetime; Black males are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white males; and dying at the hands of law enforcement is a leading cause of death among young Black men. In addition, Black families are at an historical economic disadvantage due to a history of disfranchisement, redlining, and other institutional discrimination.  

While the fight for racial justice for the Black American community is vital, racial justice is not exclusively important for this community in the United States. Indigenous communities, Latinx, AAPI, and other communities in the US face unique challenges and discrimination that are part of the larger narrative of the fight for human rights and racial justice.

To deliver the SDGs and create a world that is not driven by racial inequity, all stakeholders, including the private sector, need to work together. In 2020, US companies showed their commitment to racial equity, pledging billions of dollars. In 2021, more efforts are continuing and expanding. Private sector leadership on racial justice in not only important to address human rights, there is also a business imperative and competitive advantage to promoting diversity and equity within businesses and the marketplace more broadly.

UN Global Compact Network USA contributed a session to the UN Global Compact’s Leaders Summit on June 15, 2021 that showcased what American companies are doing to contribute to the SDGs and help advance racial equity. New ways in which businesses can contribute to overcoming this pressing challenge and create a more just and prosperous world were also discussed. The event was attended by members of the private sector, UN officials, government officials, as well as members of academia.

A recording of the event can be found below.

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