Wednesday, April 21, 2010

International Advocacy: UN Universal Periodic Review

Human Rights USA was one of the lead authors in a report submitted yesterday to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Treaty Ratification report -- compiled with seven co-authors and with endorsements from 53 other human rights organizations and law professors -- details the systemic shortcomings resulting from the United States’ failure to ratify fundamental treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The report also explains the loopholes in domestic human rights enforcement that exist because treaties the United States has ratified – for example, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – are not fully implemented in federal or state statutes.

To address these concerns, the report’s authors and endorsers ask the UN Human Rights Council to recommend the following steps to extend and enhance domestic law protections in the United States:

1. Take immediate steps to ratify key international human rights treaties and interpret rights contained within ratified treaties in line with international human rights standards, including protections of economic, social and cultural rights;

2. Remove any reservations, understandings and declarations (RUDs) that undermine compliance with, or violate the object and purpose of, treaties;

3. Adopt implementing legislation and optional protocols to ensure treaties are enforceable and that domestic law is in full compliance with treaty obligations; and

4. Establish federal mechanisms to ensure comprehensive coordination and monitoring of treaty implementation and federal, state and local compliance with international human rights obligations.

In November 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council will review this report, and others submitted by NGOs, in its Universal Periodic Review of the United States’ human rights record. The UPR process is a tool for investigating all UN member states’ track records to ensure they are abiding by universal human rights norms. Human Rights USA is proud to have contributed to this report, and to be a member of the US Human Rights Network, a coalition of U.S.-based civil society organizations working to improve human rights protections in the United States.

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