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May 4, 2010
12:26 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights at Home Campaign

Rachel Hamrick

Amnesty International, ACLU and The Human Rights At Home Campaign Call on Members and Allies to Urge President Obama to Issue an Executive Order on Human Rights

Call to action sends strong and clear message to the President: “The time for action is now.”

WASHINGTON - May 4 - As President Obama considers whether to issue an Executive Order (EO) on human rights, the ACLU, Amnesty International and the Human Rights at Home Campaign are calling on their members and allies to send a letter to the President urging him to issue an EO that holds the U.S. accountable for its domestic human rights commitments.


The Executive Order would address the human rights obligations of the United States and put concrete action behind President Obama’s recognition that human rights begin at home by integrating the U.S.’s human rights commitments into all of the agencies of the government. 

“This Executive Order presents President Obama with an important opportunity to uphold core American values of equality and justice for all by building a much-needed human rights infrastructure here at home,” said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU's Human Rights Program.

The groups are asking that the Executive Order include meaningful human rights reforms such as:

  • an explicit commitment to implement the full spectrum of human rights as envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • mechanisms to ensure  human rights standards are integrated and enforced across the government, which, at a minimum, requires a revitalized and more effective Inter-Agency Working Group on Human Rights;
  • human rights impact assessments and studies to ensure government policies, pending legislation and regulations are consistent with human rights commitments;
  • a requirement that  Inspectors General, civil rights and civil liberties offices within departments, and Government Accountability Office incorporate human rights obligations and analysis in their reviews and investigations of government agencies, policies and programs;
  • a plan of action to fully implement and incorporate human rights obligations into domestic and foreign policy, including following up on recommendations made by human rights bodies such as the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the U.N. Human Rights Council following the 2010 Universal Periodic Review of the U.S.; and
  • meaningful periodic consultations with civil society and enhanced collaboration between federal and state and local governments on implementation and enforcement of human rights obligations.

“The time is now for the Obama administration to take new bold steps that prioritize human rights at home,” said Cristina Finch, Government Relations Director for Amnesty International.  “Although the administration has made positive statements about the indivisibility of rights and the importance of recognition of economic, social and cultural rights, there has been no concrete action to fully incorporate those principles into domestic policies.  This is the type of change an Obama presidency promised.  This is the hope on which many relied when casting their votes in the 2008 election.” 

In addition to being a major symbolic achievement, issuance of an executive order sets forth a definitive plan, displays assertive action and lays the groundwork for the demand that other nations follow our lead.



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