Officials and scholars on Monday urged the US to reject all expressions of racist hate speech and stop using the pandemic as a political tool.
The request was made at an online meeting that took place on the sidelines of the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council. Its theme was "Racism against Asian-Americans: Scapegoating and Double Standards".
Physical and verbal attacks against Asian-Americans have dramatically increased since the pandemic began, Zhang Dan, vice-president and director-general of United Nations Association of China, said.
She cited statistics from a recent survey by the Pew Research Center that 81 percent of Asian-Americans thought violence against Asians was increasing, and among Asian-Americans, 45 percent said they had experienced racial discrimination.
Widespread hate and the racist scourge against racial minorities in the United States are causing devastating violations of their fundamental human rights.
Participants at the meeting held that US systemic racism was deeply rooted in the country's history of racism and flawed political and judicial system.
"There is a long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in America," said Tang Yanlin, a professor at the School of International Economics and International Relations with Liaoning University, adding systemic racial discrimination stemmed from America's deep-rooted white supremacy.
Citing the Chinese Exclusion Act as example, he said it was adopted by the US Congress in 1882 and not repealed until 1943.
Chinese immigrants then were engaged in dangerous, low-wage jobs, such as mining and railroad construction, yet they were misperceived as stealing jobs from whites, he added.
"Due to the long-term governance deficit, the US government does not put the human rights of all people at the core of human rights governance, and ethnic minorities have been marginalized for a long time," he said.
Fermín Gabriel Quinones Sanchez, president of the United Nations Association of Cuba, mentioned the history of the US records poor human rights records, from colonization against indigenous people to exploitation of African slaves, and called racism as 'contrary to human nature itself'.
Participants to the meeting said the US political leadership was also to blame, for it had not provided the
leadership to raise awareness of the severity of the problem, deal with the root causes, and take action to end impunity and provide redress for the victims.
At times of economic downturn, political crisis, social unrest, or even war, the vulnerable group in the US would more likely to be made the scapegoat to take the blame, said Li Xin, who is an associate research fellow of the Institute for International Strategic Studies of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
Noting the US political climate is 'toxic', she said anti-Asian racism, xenophobia, violence and hate crimes found their hotbed in today's America to serve the needs of US domestic politics and geostrategic ramifications at large.
For instance, the former US administration conveniently blamed China and the World Health Organization for America's failed response to the pandemic, while scapegoating Asian-Americans at home, she added.
Liang Yabin, associate professor at the Institute for International Strategic Studies with the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, said the former US administration intentionally referred to COVID-19 as the 'Chinese virus'.
"The use of racial and ethnic terms to describe the coronavirus has been the main contributor to the record-breaking level of severe racism against Asian-Americans," he added.
What's more, institutional and legal defects contribute to the rise of anti-Asian discrimination.
Huang Huikang, former director-general of Department of Treaty and Law with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the US failed to fulfill its obligation under the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, by declaring that this Convention was not self-executive domestically and could not be cited as a legal basis for claiming equal rights in US courts.
Tang Yanlin also said there was no nationwide standard in the US for what constituted a hate crime and social media companies did not have consistent standards to address and delete content motivating attacks on minorities.
To fight against the entrenched racism in the US, several recommendations were put forward at the meeting.
The US should shoulder responsibilities on promoting genuine equality among all races and ethnicities, through policy and programs and reform legal systems to earnestly fulfill its obligations, the participants said.
With regard to the role of UN bodies, they also proposed that an independent international commission of inquiry should be established to examine, investigate and report on US responses to hate speech and hate crime and other forms of racism.
Participants also urged a special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to pay for a fact-finding visit to the US and submitted reports to the UN Human Rights Council.
And they expect the Universal Periodic Review and other human rights mechanisms, within their mandates, to pay attention to the USA and other countries with a racist history, including Canada and Australia, and report its action in its regular report to the Human Rights Council.
The international community, they said, while jointly rejecting the stigmatization and politicization of public health issues, should support science-based research on the origin of the novel coronavirus and support the World Health Organization to play a leading role in an objective matter on pandemic response.
Young people, as global citizens, should be educated to respect cultural diversity and oppose stigmatization and politicization of human rights and public health and other issues, they suggested.