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We Must Do Better

Nahal Zamani,
Human Rights Program
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December 10, 2009

Today marks “Human Rights Day” and the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR, arguably the founding document of the modern human rights system, outlines the basic rights and protections that are to be enjoyed by all people.

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Under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt, the United States was a driving force in the creation of the UDHR, and the document was clearly influenced by our nation’s own Bill of Rights. However, our policies and practices have not always lived up to the ideals for which it stands.

In a statement released today, Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU Human Rights Program noted:

The Obama administration must hold the U.S. accountable to international human rights standards, as well as uphold its stated commitment to transparency by addressing policies that have fallen short of those standards. President Obama’s commitment to human rights must be translated from rhetoric to reality.

Specifically, practices such as racial profiling, the mistreatment and prosecution of former child soldiers in military commissions, the sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without parole and the dramatic increase in the abusive detention of immigrants continue to smear the United States’ human rights reputation and threaten American values of fairness and justice for all. And although President Obama has taken laudable steps toward improving America’s human rights record, the U.S. continues to lag behind other countries in issues such as the death penalty, women’s rights and children’s rights. Learn more about the different ways that we’re falling behind.

We can and must do better.

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