Human Rights Institute Advocates for U.S. to Comply with Human Rights Commitment

Human Rights Institute Advocates for U.S. to Comply with Human Rights Commitment

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New York, Sept. 17, 2010— Columbia Law School’s JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Counsel at the Human Rights Institute (HRI), will attend the 15th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, in preparation for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States. 

Ward, along with other members of a U.S. Human Rights Network delegation, will brief U.N. delegates and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the current U.S. human rights record. She is urging the U.S. to ratify core human rights treaties, including the women’s rights treaty, children’s rights treaty and the disability rights’ treaty as a signal of its commitment to uphold human rights.

This will be the first time the U.N. has reviewed the U.S. as part of the UPR process.  The UPR, set for Nov. 5, is unique because it involves a comprehensive review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. It is based upon human rights standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. Charter, ratified treaties and other applicable international law.

“To advance human rights around the world, the U.S must start at home— we lead by example when we hold ourselves accountable to our own commitments,” said Ward. “While this Administration’s engagement in the UPR is laudable, further steps are needed to ensure our policies and practices comply with the human rights we champion abroad.”

Ward will participate in individual briefings as well as a U.N. side event, urging ratification and implementation of human rights commitments at the federal, state and local level. HRI played a key role in coordinating the drafting and submission of a coalition report addressing these issues.  This was one of 26 cluster reports submitted by members of the U.S. Human Rights Network on a range of issues including migrant rights, the right to adequate housing, the right to work with dignity, LGBT rights, and rights of persons with disabilities.

“The UPR is a unique and exciting opportunity for the U.S. government to take a comprehensive look at domestic policies and have a meaningful dialogue about the U.S human rights record, Ward said.”  “It is my hope that the review begins a process of ongoing engagement with civil society and fosters the establishment of the infrastructure necessary to promote and monitor adherence to human rights standards within our own borders.”

Speaking at the opening of the 4th General Session of the Human Rights Council, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, said the UPR “has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.”  Live events from Geneva can be viewed here:

HRI serves as a crossroads for practitioners, scholars, and activists, and a focal point for Columbia Law School’s human rights curriculum, programs and research.  Its Human Rights in the U.S. Project builds the capacity of domestic lawyers, policy makers and advocates to incorporate a human rights framework into social justice advocacy.                     

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