For Immediate Release
New York: Riptide Communications 212-260-5000;
In Geneva Sarah Paoletti 44-7912-006514;
Ajamu Baraka 404 695-0475
As US Rights Record To Be Reviewed for First Time by UN Council, Rights Networks Calls On Obama to Bring Domestic Practices in Line with International Standards
US Human Rights Network Details Shortcomings in Domestic Human Rights Protections
WASHINGTON - As the Obama administration prepares for the first time
to submit to a review of the United States' human rights record
before the United Nations Human Rights Council, US human rights groups have
come together to spotlight the gross shortcomings in its human rights
protections. The US Human Rights Network (USHRN), which consists of over 300
prominent human rights organizations and influential community groups across
the country, has produced a 400-page report detailing the glaring inadequacies
in the United States' human rights record. Pointing to issues such as the
discriminatory impact of foreclosures, racial disparities in access to basic
health care services, and widespread racial profiling, the US Human Rights
Network's report demonstrates the need to raise domestic standards to meet
those espoused in international treaties.
Baraka, Executive Director of USHRN, which includes prominent US civil and
human rights organizations such as the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, the
Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, said,
"We applaud the Obama Administration's commitment to depart from
US exceptionalism in its approach to international institutions. But the report
the US has submitted on its human rights record fails to capture serious
shortcomings in human rights protections in a number of areas," he
said, adding: "The consequences of a cataclysmic economic crisis have
been felt disproportionately by underprivileged groups who have been offered
few protections. Our immigration policies are draconian and contribute to
racial profiling and violence in our immigrant communities. And in some
areas of healthcare, we are performing at the level of underdeveloped nations."
submitted its report to the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights
Council on August 20, where it set out an overview of its human rights record
and its promise to raise domestic standards to those espoused in international
covenants and treaties. The report quotes Secretary of State Clinton: "[H]uman
rights are universal, but their experience is local. This is why we are
committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves."
However the USHRN points out that in contrast to this statement, the US remains
exceptional in its refusal to ratify a number of key international treaties,
including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and more generally has
failed to create the necessary mechanisms for implementation of international
human rights obligations across different federal agencies.
USHRN report also calls for the creation of an interagency working group and
reformed Civil Rights Commission with a human rights mandate, to oversee
compliance with human rights standards.
Paoletti of the USHRN said "Human rights advocates across America have
not only documented substandard human rights practices which have persisted in
the US for years, but also those that reflect the precipitous erosion of human
rights protections in the US since 9/11. Whether it is migrant laborers who are
excluded from workplace protections, children denied education because of the
school-to-prison pipeline, or women denied equal pay in the workplace,
advocates feel compelled to bring their experiences before international human
rights mechanisms because the US legal system has fallen short. "
General Assembly created the Human Rights Council in 2006 after its
predecessor; the UN Human Rights Commission was discredited as a politicized
forum which gave a platform to regimes with deplorable human rights records.
The Universal Periodic review takes place every four years to evaluate UN
member states' compliance with human rights standards. The review will be
held on Friday, November 5, at 9 am in Geneva. Among those representing
the United States will be Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor and Harold Koh, State Department Legal Advisor.
US Human Rights Network was formed to promote US accountability to
universal human rights standards by building linkages between organizations and
individuals. The Network strives to build a human rights culture in the United
States that puts those directly affected by human rights violations, with a
special emphasis on grassroots organizations and social movements, in a central
leadership role. The Network also works towards connecting the US human rights
movement with the broader US social justice movement and human rights movements
around the world.
USHRN submission to the UN Human Rights Council can be found here:
executive summary of the USHRN submission follows:
learn more, please visit: http://www.ushrnetwork.org