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At U.N., ACLU Urges U.S. to do More to Address Racism in Accordance With International Human Rights Treaties

Obama on the podium
Obama on the podium
Josh Bell,
Former Senior Communications Strategist, Center for Democracy,
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September 22, 2011

This afternoon, Chandra Bhatnagar of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program will give a statement at the U.N. General Assembly High Level Meeting Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Durban Declaration. The Durban Declaration is the international community’s blueprint for action to fight racism. It was adopted in 2001 at the U.N. World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa. You can watch a live stream of today’s session here.

Today’s statement urges the Obama administration to implement human rights treaty obligations domestically:

The absence of the United States in today’s proceedings is disappointing; it contradicts the administration’s stated position to push for positive models to advance human rights, and sends the wrong message to the global community regarding the U.S. commitment to fight racial injustice everywhere…

While enforcement levels of some anti-discrimination laws have increased across the nation due to the hard work of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, more needs to be done in order to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights norms…

[T]he Obama administration should issue an executive order to fully implement U.S. treaty obligations and create an accountable and transparent mechanism to integrate international human rights into domestic policy…

While progress has been made in the United States towards eliminating the legacy of Jim Crow, racial and ethnic minorities and especially peoples of African descent continue to face intentional, structural, and de facto forms of discrimination, which manifest in unequal access to quality education, housing, health services, employment, electoral disfranchisement and discrimination in the criminal justice system.

The United States should lead by example and translate their stated commitment to end racial discrimination into concrete laws and policies through a national plan of action for [International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination] implementation with full and meaningful consultation with civil society and affected communities and collaboration with local and state governments.”

You can read the complete statement here.

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