OHCHR studies Piet and more

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The United Nations investigate Zwarte Piet. A committee under the responsibility of the High Commissioner for Human Rights considers whether the helper of Sinterklaas is a racist stereotype. What could be the consequences of such an investigation?The full name of the commission is 'The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' or OHCHR. The OHCHR was established in 1993 and monitors human rights as set out in international law.

zwarte pieten
Hans Pama

Some recent issues the OHCHR has taken under scrutiny are the implications of Israeli settlements for Palestinians, the cause of riots in Kazakhstan, slavery in Mauritania, and poverty and discrimination in Bolivia.

So now Zwarte Piet is under investigation. In January, four UN Special Reporters sent a letter to the Government to address the issue. In July The Netherlands sent a letter back in which some questions were answered. The work group will review the Sinterklaas festivities from up close.

The research should be done by late November. If the researchers conclude Zwarte Piet is a racist stereotype, they will convey this to the Human Rights Council. The council may then appeal to Netherlands.

Ultimately, the case can be taken to the Annual General Assembly of the UN. The General Assembly may then adopt a resolution by a two-thirds majority to condemn Zwarte Piet. Such a resolution is only a recommendation and The Netherlands do not have to comply.