Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blueprint to bring human rights home

Soon after the election, IntLawGrrl Connie de la Vega posted a moving call for the United States to reaffirm the commitment it made 60 years ago by endorsing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Just before the election, the American Constitution Society released a road map on how America might do just that.
In 33 pages, Human Rights at Home: A Domestic Policy Blueprint for the New Administration traces the history of the U.S. commitment and recent shortcomings evident in, for example, the mistreatment of persons detained in the wake of 9/11 and in the failure to protect its own nationals in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (It's a litany not unlike that which I set forth in this essay, published earlier this year.) The ACS report, written by our colleague Catherine Powell (right) of Fordham Law School, then recommends ways that the new President could set the United States back on a human rights path. A few examples:
► Issue an Executive Order (proposed text at Appendix B) reconstituting the Interagency Working Group on Human Rights, 1st established in 1998, as a means to coordinate federal governmental "promotion and respect of human rights and the implementation of human rights obligations in U.S. domestic policy";
► "Seize opportunities" to act soon to reaffirm obligations the United States already has shouldered by continuing reporting dialogue respecting the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (subject of an IntLawGrrls series);
► Establish 2 types of human rights bodies, the 1st the Interagency Working Group, which would implement human rights domestically, and the 2d, a new, nonpartisan, independent body that would monitor compliance with human rights laws; and
► Support ratification of human rights treaties, with all necessary implementing legislation, such as, to cite a few examples, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (also the subject of an IntLawGrrls series), the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
I'm proud to have served on the Blueprint Advisory Board along with a host of other academics, NGO representatives, and former government officials, all named in Appendix A.
Looking forward now to seeing some of those recommendations take root here at home.

1 comment:

SteveW said...

Please write about the Sean Goldman situation involving circumvention of the Hague Treaty on Child Abduction by Brazilian lawyers.

Many twists and strange precedent setting decisions threaten all Hague cases.