The Dutch government has promised the United Nations it will substitute the controversial Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) figure with a more acceptable character, delegates have confirmed after a UN committee meeting.The UN argued the Netherlands has breached the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Delegation leader Afke van Rijn said during the committee that Dutch deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher is taking steps to discuss adjustments to Zwarte Piet. She added: "Prohibiting Black Peter from government is not a solution."
Delegates from countries such as South Africa, Ireland, Colombia, Turkey and the US voiced their concerns on the Black Peter symbol and the casual attitude of the Dutch towards the allegedly racist icon.
Stop and search selectivity and anti-Semitism in the Netherlands were also discussed, but the steps away from Black Peter are the most revolutionary result of the committee.
Black Peter, a blacked-up figure representing a blackamoor, is based on the slaves held by Saint Nicholas, a catholic Bishop to whom the 5 December Sinterklaas celebrations are dedicated.
Over recent years, voices against the Black Peter symbols have become increasingly louder and demonstrations during the 5 December celebrations in Amsterdam escalated in 2014 when one protester was arrested.
Deliberate moves away from Black Peter have been made by Dutch media and individual counties in the Netherlands. However, many Dutch people see the celebration as an inherent part of their culture and deny the figure carries racist connotations.
Black Peter defendants argued that the blackface represents coal and grime from the chimneys through which adults tell children Black Peters descend to put presents in their shoes. After these comments some organisations who hold 5 December celebrations made those playing Black Peters wear lighter face paint and removed the notorious red lips, which are often depicted in old, racist pictures.