Racial borders

Prof. E. Tendayi Achiume discusses the intersection between racial injustice and migration governance from an international law perspective.

On 1 December 2020, the Centre for Fundamental Rights hosted a webinar, which was moderated by the Centre's Co-director, Cathryn Costello, the Hertie School's Professor of Fundamental Rights. In the webinar, E. Tendayi Achiume, Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, discussed the topic of racial justice and racial equality in the context of borders and migration. 

Achiume opened her talk with an introduction on race and human rights and reflected on the notion of "Racial Aphasia”. The "global human rights system within the United Nations, as well as many of the most influential human rights organizations and institutes in the world, participate in neglect that amounts to a calculated forgetting of white supremacy as a global institution, and racism as a pervasive social structure, reducing the problem of racism to abhorrent individualistic acts or attitudes. This places an emphasis on punishing or condemning individual acts of prejudice, rather than undoing structures of systemic injustice", explained Achiume.

After shortly discussing the causes of racial aphasia in human rights and humanitarian advocacy, Achiume focused, in her lecture, on borders and migration and the racial aphasia that characterises most debates about migrants and refugees. She also shared some of the findings of her recent report to the UN General Assembly on racial and xenophobic discrimination, emerging digital technologies in border and immigration enforcement.

Listen to the full presentation: 

View the slides presented at the webinar here.

This event was hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights as part of the Fundamental Rights in Practice event series