In the days since George Floyd, a Black man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck, protests have erupted not only throughout the United States, but also around the world. Showing solidarity with those in the United States, hundreds to thousands of protesters in the streets of Amsterdam, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Nairobi, and Sydney, among other cities, have called for an end to racial injustice, systemic racism, and police brutality.
Floyd’s killing has prompted a number of international officials to criticize police violence in the United States and support peaceful protests. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on the U.S. government to “take serious action to stop such killings” of Black people by police, while the head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, criticized the country’s “continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens.” The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, described Floyd’s death as an “abuse of power” and voiced support for peaceful protests.
For decades, U.S. lawmakers and administrations from both major parties have spoken out against human rights abuses abroad, in some cases using sanctions to press for reforms. However, human rights organizations say such advocacy has weakened under the Donald J. Trump administration. Countries that Washington repeatedly labeled as human rights abusers and sanctioned, such as China and Iran, have used the U.S. protests to highlight what they call American hypocrisy.
CFR’s Michelle Gavin writes that U.S. diplomats can and should continue to speak out against injustice abroad, while acknowledging that the United States is not free from oppression. “To ignore human rights abuses,” she writes, “would render America complicit in even more injustice.”
In addition to condemning systemic racism in the United States, protesters globally have used demonstrations to demand justice in their own countries. Demonstrators in Toronto expressed outrage over the recent death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black woman. In Paris, many remembered Adama Traore, a Black man who died in police custody in 2016. And in Sydney, activists rallied against the deaths of indigenous Australians, including David Dungay, who died while being restrained by prison guards in 2015.
See how people worldwide are making their voices heard and remembering Floyd and other victims of police violence: