Violent attempt at US Capitol to ‘overturn’ election, shocking and incendiary: independent UN experts

18 January 2021

A group of independent UN rights experts released a statement on Monday condemning the violent storming of the United States Capitol building in Washington DC on 6 January, which they described as a shocking and incendiary attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

Twenty-three Special Rapporteurs and members of Working Groups – unpaid volunteers who are not UN staff – put their names to the statement, in which they strongly affirmed and expressed their “solidarity with the American people who stand for democracy, equality and the rule of law at this critical moment”. 

De-escalate and unify

The group announced that they stand with the democratic outcomes of the 2020 US election, in which Joe Biden was elected the 46th President of the US. They called for those responsible for the attack, and those who incited the violence, to be held accountable, and for political leaders in the US to “de-escalate tensions, and unify the country in full respect for democracy and the rule of law”.

The storming of the Capitol marked one of the few times in the history of the country that the building which houses the US House of Representatives and Senate – a co-equal branch of government along with the Presidency and Supreme Court – has been attacked. It occurred on the day that the results of the election were being certified by Senators and House representatives, in line with their constitutional duty. 

In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, and fears of further violence ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Biden on Wednesday, there has been a marked military build-up, with thousands of troops stationed in Washington DC, as well as many top government buildings across the 50 state capitals. Several major social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, have decided to close or limit accounts held or controlled by the current President, Donald Trump.

The group of experts called for the response to the violence, from the US Government, the private sector, civil society, and other groups, to be consistent with freedom of expression, international human rights standards, and legal due process. 

The statement affirmed the experts’ hope that US democracy will emerge strengthened from the crisis, “without damage to its institutions and with renewed commitment to peaceful pluralism, rule of law and democratic governance”.
 

Special Procedures

  • The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.
  • Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.
  • Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Top UN officials saddened at mob violence during US Capitol breach; Bachelet decries 'incitement' by political leaders

Top UN officials, including the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly have expressed sadness over the violence that erupted on Wednesday when supporters of President Trump stormed the US Capitol building, temporarily bringing to a halt the disputed certification of November’s presidential election result.