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David Livert






Statement on Racism in the United Nations SDGs Garners Numerous International NGO Endorsements; Submitted to UN Secretary General 

David Livert, SPSSI Main UN Representative, Penn State University

A statement authored by SPSSI United Nations NGO Committee was endorsed by 85 NGOs in the UN community and submitted to be part of the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations during 2020 meeting of the General Assembly. The statement “Beyond the Human Rights Rhetoric on “Leaving No One Behind:” Integrating the Elimination of Racism and Racial and Ethnic Discrimination into the Implementation of the SDGs” was authored by SPSSI UN Representatives Corann Okorodudu, David Livert, Laurel Peterson, Deborah Fish Ragin, and Rachel Ravich along with SPSSI UN interns Laura Ayabar-Lopez, Trisha Dehrone, Priyadharshany Sandanapitchai, and Mehrgol Tiv.   

The Committee developed the statement in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd and the resulting anti-racism activism this past summer as well as the call to action by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who declared that persistent racism is a “scourge [that] violates the UN Charter and debases our core values” (Guterres, 4 June 2020). Guterres called for dismantling racist structures and reforming racist institutions as well as a one-year debate on racism within the United Nations Organization regarding the 2030 Agenda.  

In 2015, all member nations committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which also commits to ending discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other axes of domination. SPSSI’s statement asserts that, despite the affirmation to “leave no one behind,” the SDGs are “disturbingly silent about the eradication of systematic racism” which remains a barrier to global sustainable growth for all. Specific to sustainable development, “Racial inequalities are evident in many developmental areas including: access to quality education, employment with living wages, justice, physical and mental health, and social security; access to basic needs like food, safe drinking water, and housing; access to political participation, equal protection against the ravages of climate disasters, and political participation; and protection against racial profiling and police violence (Glaser, Spencer & Charbonneau, 2014).” 

The statement makes ten recommendations to eliminate racism in the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, including:  

  • Developing laws, policies, and programs to mitigate systemic racism and racial and ethnic discrimination relevant to each SDG.  

  • Monitoring and evaluating progress on all SDGs by using indicators disaggregated by race, ethnicity, descent, national origin, indigenous identity, age, sex, income, language, religion, disability, migratory status, geographic location, and other characteristics relevant in national contexts. 

  • Investing urgently to significantly increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable disaggregated SDGs data.   

  • Enhancing the strength of national dedication to human rights for all by ratifying and implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by Member States who have not yet done so. 

Endorsers of the SPSSI statement include psychological NGOs accredited at the United Nations including the American Psychological Association, International Association for Applied Psychology, Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology and the International Council of Psychologists. International signers also include the European Health Psychology Society, Pan African Psychology Union, and the Psychology Society of South Africa. Other NGO endorsers include the International Center for Peace and Reconciliation, International Federation on Ageing, US Human Rights Network, and the World Against Racism Network. 

SPSSI maintains an NGO Committee that has been accredited at the United Nations since the 1990s. Interested members are invited to contact Committee members if you would like to learn more about how psychologists can get involved with the United Nations. 

To see the full statement, click here.  

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