Unfinished Business: Turning the Obama Administration’s Human Rights Promises into Policy

Document Date: March 21, 2012

In this briefing paper, the ACLU lays out concrete steps that the Obama administration should take to live up to the human rights promises it made to the U.N.

Starting in spring 2009, before the United States officially joined the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.S. officials recognized that America needed to improve its domestic compliance with its obligations under international human rights treaties. In March 2011, during the Council’s evaluation of U.S. domestic human rights performance (known as the Universal Periodic Review), the administration made even more specific commitments to take action to bring its policies in line with those obligations.

The administration made these human rights commitments publically, in front of the world community and with the input of each of the relevant federal agencies. It is now time for the administration to make good on these promises by implementing tangible reform, and it must ensure that the government teams working on these reforms are held accountable for delivering measurable progress.

The ACLU’s briefing paper matches up specific U.N. recommendations – which the administration has already accepted – with specific domestic policy reforms. Our report provides the administration with substantive work plans that can achieve a broad range of human rights improvements on issues including racial profiling, the death penalty, and immigration detention.

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