Friday, November 5, 2010

What would you ask the US Government about its human rights policies?

At this morning's UPR, the US delegation (which included representatives from 11 federal agencies and departments, 2 members of civil society, and a local government representative) heard a steady stream of questions that can be summarized in one sentiment: "Please work with us."

Almost every country asked the United States to work toward ending the death penalty, since we are one of the few that still use it.

Almost every country asked the United States to join the core human rights treaties and declarations that protect women's rights, children's rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, rights of workers, economic, social, and cultural rights, and indigenous rights.

Almost every country noted the need to address discrimination throughout American society, the need to hold government officials who commit human rights abuses accountable, and the problem of racial profiling.

It was clear from the discussions that the world wants the U.S. to return to its role as a human rights leader. Now the challenge is to make that real.

Later today the U.S. Department of State is hosting a "town hall" meeting with NGOs here in Geneva. It will be live broadcast from the Department's website starting at 10:30 Eastern time. From what I've been told, the webcast viewers can submit questions too.

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