Response to the UN Working of Experts on the Protection of Human Rights of People of African Descent on the Need to Recognize Mass Incarceration as a Driver of Systemic Racism

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date

Summer 6-28-2021


The systems of incarceration common in post-colonial societies were created to subdue populations of African descent and continue that legacy today. Scholars such as Angela Davis and Ruth Gilmore have spent the past decades highlighting the systemic racism within the American criminal justice and incarceration system, yet the issue of mass incarceration and discriminatory impact is not acknowledged by most international agreements. The violence perpetrated by the state through mass incarceration is completely absent from the Working Group’s most recent comprehensive Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (the Report) on its twenty-first and twenty-second sessions, despite widespread evidence of the racism inherent in not just overrepresentation but structural design.3 The eradication of racism and discrimination against people of African descent cannot be realized without recognizing mass incarceration as a human rights violation and the origin of a second class of citizen in post-colonial societies. The continued export of American-style prisons has entrenched systemic racism across the globe, even as a global consciousness-raising has exposed its faults.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.