United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism's Visit to the U.S.
The former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mr. Doudou Diène, visited the United States to review the state of racial discrimination in the United States from May 18th through June 6th, 2008. As is protocol, Mr. Diène was officially invited to conduct this fact-finding trip by the U.S. government.
The American Civil Liberties Union is among a group of organizations and individuals who met with the Special Rapporteur to testify about the individual and structural racism that persists in the United States, as documented in its comprehensive report “Race and Ethnicity in America.” The Special Rapporteur's official schedule included visits to: Chicago; New York; Omaha; Los Angeles; New Orleans; Miami; Washington, D.C.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Together with its affiliate offices and partner organizations, the ACLU organized and facilitated public hearings and meetings for the Special Rapporteur with affected communities, victims, civil society, and national and local authorities. The ACLU works on a broad range of racial discrimination issues, including: discrimination against migrant and undocumented workers; disparate school punishment; maintaining and strengthening affirmative action programs; and combating racial profiling, including discrimination against Arab and Muslim individuals and communities in the post-9/11 era.
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council with the mandate to monitor, advise, and publicly report on human rights situations in specific countries, including the United States, and on human rights violations worldwide. The Special Rapporteur can only carry out a fact-finding mission at the request of the country concerned.
Following Mr. Diène’s visit, he compiled a report detailing his finding. This report was officially presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in mid-June 2009, and noted:
"Racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society. The U.S. has made decisive progress. However, the historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life and American society."