Friday, September 29, 2023
Event 10/5: Human Rights Approaches to Reimagining Policing and Community Safety in the United States
On October 5, 2023, from 12:00PM to 1:30PM EDT, join the ACLU and UNARC for a webinar discussion with the Human Rights Council on two reports written by the UN Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement (EMLER). The first report focuses on reimagining policing, and the second report focuses on EMLER’s country visit to the United States this past May. The Council will discuss the relevant of these reports to the ongoing vital debate regarding the role of law enforcement in American society and the need for transformative change and the reimagination of community safety.
The panelists will be Yasmin Cader, Kerry Mclean, Dr. Tracie L. Keesee, Prof. Juan E. Méndez, a U.S. government representative (TBA), and a family member of a victim of police violence (TBA). The moderator will be Salimah Hankins.
The event is free and will be held on Zoom. Click here to register.
Thursday, September 28, 2023
New Report: UN International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement Releases Report after U.S. Visit
The UN International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement released its report on the United States on September 28, 2023, following the Mechanism’s official country visit to the United States earlier this year. During that visit, the Mechanism heard testimonies from 133 affected individuals, visited five detention centers and held meetings with civil society groups and a range of government and police authorities in the District of Columbia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City.
The report found that racism in the US - a legacy of slavery, the slave trade, and one hundred years of legalized apartheid that followed slavery’s abolition – continues to exist today in the form of racial profiling, police killings, and many other human rights violations.
According to the report, Black people in America are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites, and 4.5 times more likely to be incarcerated. It also said that of the more than 1,000 cases of killings by police each year, only 1% result in officers being charged. If use of force regulations in the US are not reformed in accordance with international standards, many of these killings will continue, the report warned. The report calls on police agencies to address the issues of systemic racism against Black law enforcement officers and issues of white supremacy ideology inside these agencies.
The report cited with profound concern instances of children of African descent being sentenced to life imprisonment, pregnant women in prison being chained during childbirth, and persons held in solitary confinement for 10 years. It also described how some people of African descent have been prevented from voting years after completing their sentences and how some are subjected to forced labor in “plantation-style” prisons, which constitutes a contemporary form slavery.
The report made 30 recommendations to the US and all its jurisdictions, including the more than 18,000 police agencies in the country. It also highlighted local and federal good practices and recognised efforts the current administration and some local governments are doing to combat the issue.
The full report can be found here.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
On October 23, 2023, from 1:00-2:15PM EDT, join the American Bar Association’s International Law Section for a webinar highlighting the effects of climate change on children. Although the bulk of climate lawsuits have been filed in the U.S., most have been thrown out of court bogged down in procedural arguments. This year however, Held v. Montana, the only constitutional climate litigation in the U.S. to go on trial, brought on behalf of children between the ages of five and 21, was heard in state judicial district court in the capital Helena in June 2023. The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on August 14 in this landmark decision and decided that the Montana Environmental Policy Act was unconstitutional, and that Montana has a constitutional right to a healthful environment includes climate. The distinguished panelists will be Elizabeth Barad, Julia A. Olson, Mathew W. Dos Santos, and Nathan Bellinger.
The webinar is free for both members and non-members of the ABA. CLE is not available for this event. Click here to register.
Friday, September 22, 2023
The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in October – November 2023 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:
Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s report on the procedural or participatory elements of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, including access to information, public participation and access to justice with effective remedies. Deadline October 2, 2023. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children – Call for inputs to inform the report of the Special Rapporteur on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the entertainment industry. Deadline October 4, 2023. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – Call for inputs on the Special Rapporteurs’ report on decriminalization of homelessness and extreme poverty. Deadline October 6, 2023. Read more.
High Commissioner of Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the High Commissioner’s report on conscientious objection to military service. Deadline October 6, 2023. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance – Call for inputs to inform the visit of the Special Rapporteur to the United States. Deadline October 9, 2023. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s report on advocacy of hatred based on religion or belief. Deadline October 29, 2023. Read more.
High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation. Deadline November 1, 2023. Read more.
High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for analytical study on key challenges in ensuring access to medicines, vaccines and other health products. Deadline November 30, 2023. Read more.
This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.
Friday, September 15, 2023
New Report: Climate Reparations and Racial Justice from UCLA School of Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights
Back in March 2023, the UCLA Promise Institute brought together a working group of experts from the United Nations (UN), the Inter-American system, and regional social movements to discuss the disproportionate impacts of the global climate crisis on racially marginalized peoples in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean—particularly people of African and Indigenous descent—in a convening called “Setting Institutional Priorities on Climate Reparations and Racial Justice: Learning from Social Movements” (Convening). Since then, the students of UCLA’s International Human Rights Clinic have been compiling the takeaways from the Convening, and on September 12, 2023, they published their final report.
The Report traces the themes of each session at the Convening. Section 1 provides an overview of perspectives on climate justice and reparations from movement leaders from the Global South and marginalized communities around the world. Section 2 briefly outlines the public international law basis to provide reparations and how scholars are advancing thinking around climate reparations, in particular. Further, this section explores how public international law constrains historical responsibility by adopting principles, procedures and remedies that ignore the experiences of marginalized people while also actively reproducing unequal relations. Section 3 provides an overview of current discussions around “loss and damage” within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other international frameworks. It outlines how the framing of climate change within international fora tends to exclude the historical responsibility that should be borne by some states and transnational corporations. Finally, the Conclusion highlights some of the central themes and key takeaways that arose from the working group of experts and identifies topics for future research.
The report is available here.
Thursday, July 13, 2023
The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in July – September 2023 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:
Committee on Enforced Disappearances and Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances - Call for inputs with a view to issuing a joint statement on the notion of short-term enforced disappearance. Deadline July 31, 2023. Read more.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the Office’s next thematic report on "good practices on support systems to ensure community inclusion of persons with disabilities, including as a means of building forward better after the COVID-19 pandemic" to be presented at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council. Deadline August 1, 2023. Read more.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Call for inputs on the first draft of the General Recommendation N° 37 on racial discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to health. Deadline August 4, 2023. Read more.
Human Rights Committee – (U.S. review will be held October 18, 2023.) Call for written contributions for adoption of list of issues for U.S. review. Deadline August 4, 2023. Read more.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - Call for inputs to create a Romani Memory Map for the Americas, a crowd-sourced initiative done jointly with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); Laboratorio de Estudos sobre Etnicidade (LEER /Universidade de São Paulo), Brazil; Gonzaga University, USA; and the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, as well as with Roma human rights defenders and Roma civil society organisations throughout the Americas and beyond. Deadline August 31, 2023. Read more.
Human Rights Committee – (U.S. review will be held October 18, 2023.) Call for shadow reports for U.S. review. Deadline September 12, 2023. Read more.
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Call for inputs to aid in development of practical tools to assist law enforcement bodies in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of peaceful protests, to be presented at the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Deadline September 30, 2023. Read more.
Thursday, July 6, 2023
The University of Arkansas Law Review invites authors to submit proposals for papers for its 2023 symposium on “Children at Work.”
In recent months, the U.S. Department of Labor has reported a substantial increase in serious child labor law violations. A New York Times expose uncovered migrant children working in U.S. workplaces, including those that produce Fritos and Fruit of the Loom products. Yet, during this same period, numerous states have introduced or enacted laws to weaken longstanding child labor protections. Meanwhile, laws strengthening child labor laws or enhancing penalties for violations have been proposed in Congress and enacted in Arkansas.
This symposium will explore topics related to child labor in and beyond the United States and may include:
- What is known about trends in where children are working, how much they work, and why they work?
- At what age is it appropriate for children to work? What limitations should there be and who should set them?
- What are the causes of increased child labor violations? What is the history of child labor and child labor law? How does it compare to other countries?
- What is the role of the state in protecting children? What are unique challenges in enforcing child labor laws and securing the rights of children? Do current laws and enforcement strategies fall short? If so, how might they be improved?
- To the extent that children are employees, what are the implications for unions and organizing strategies? How do and should children participate in unions and organizing? Does the National Labor Relations Act adequately address the prospect of minor union members?
- What is the relationship between immigration policy and child labor? What issues face immigrant children at work? What about the relationship between human trafficking and child labor? How should concerns about child labor trafficking shape federal and state policy?
- What unique risks do children face in the workplace? What are the benefits of appropriate work by children? What is the relationship between work and educational and other outcomes?
The University of Arkansas Law Review invites authors exploring these and related issues to submit proposals for papers. Selected authors will be invited to present their research at the Law Review’s annual Symposium, which will be held at the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville on Friday, October 13, 2023. If you accept an invitation, the Law Review will provide transportation and accommodation in Fayetteville. Following the Symposium, proposals will be developed into approximately forty-page papers, which will be due by January 5, 2024. Once completed, we plan to publish the papers in Volume 77 of the Law Review.
Proposals should be submitted to the Symposium Editor, John Hudson ([email protected]) and Professor Annie Smith ([email protected]) with the subject line “Children at Work” by August 1, 2023. Decisions will be communicated by August 7, 2023. Should you have any questions, please contact John and Professor Smith at the above listed emails.
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Jeremiah Ho, Colonizing Queerness, University of Colorado Law Review (forthcoming 2023). Abstract below.
This Article investigates how and why the cultural script of inequality persists for queer identities despite major legal advancements such as marriage, anti-discrimination, and employment protections. By regarding LGBTQ legal advancements as part of the American settler colonial project, I conclude that such victories are not liberatory or empowering but are attempts at colonizing queer identities. American settler colonialism’s structural promotion of a normative sexuality illustrates how our settler colonialist legacy is not just a race project (as settler colonialism is most widely studied) but also a race-gender-sexuality project. Even in apparent strokes of progress, American settler colonialism’s eliminationist motives continually privilege white heteropatriarchal structures that dominate over non-normative sexualities.
Through covert demands upon queer identities to assimilate with the status quo, such settler colonialist motivations are visible in the way Supreme Court gay rights advancements have facilitated a conditional but normative path to mainstream citizenship for queer identities. By employing concepts from critical race theory, queer studies, and settler colonial theory, this Article illuminates on how the Court’s cases are indeed part of American settler colonialism’s sexuality project and answers why such legal advancements always appear monumental, but ultimately remain in the control of a discriminatory status quo. Only if queer legal advancements are accompanied by essential shifts from the normative structures of white settler heteropatriarchy will such victories live up to their liberatory claims. Otherwise, such apparent progress will continually attempt to marginalize—indeed, colonize—queerness.
Thursday, June 8, 2023
Julia Spiegel, Advancing Global Human Rights Locally, Just Security (May 16, 2023). Excerpt below.
International human rights are often viewed as the prerogative of the federal government. But that’s not the law, nor the reality. While U.S. states and localities may not enter into binding agreements with other nations or act contrary to federal law or policy according to legal precedent, U.S. states and localities can – and do – engage in a wide range of human rights policy making. Those policies can complement or fill a void in federal action in important ways.
Consider Russia’s war on Ukraine and the ensuing human rights catastrophe. In the immediate aftermath, several U.S. states issued Executive Orders to amplify, and in some cases build upon, federal sanctions targeting the Russian regime for its violations of human rights and international law. Taken together, these orders – issued by California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Utah, Vermont – terminated or banned contracts with entities doing business in Russia, prohibited purchases of certain Russian goods, required reporting by government contractors of actions they have taken in response to the war, and called for divestment of public pension funds.
The new wave of human rights is local. U.S. state and local leaders can employ swift and wide-ranging tools to advance progress on human rights locally and globally. And more of them should.
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) at Northeastern University School of Law, Data on Tap: Realizing Human Rights through Water Utility Reporting Laws (May 2023). Excerpts below.
Local water utilities’ policies regarding access, pricing, payment schedules, shutoffs, and debt collection have significant impacts on the individuals and communities that these utilities serve. In recent years, a distinct legislative trend towards mandated water policy transparency has been gaining momentum across the country. Simultaneously, an international push for affordable water access has been spearheaded by the United Nations as part of its Sustainable Development Goals. While these laws represent an important movement towards realization of the human right to water, they also work towards securing a less discussed human right: access to government- held information.
The Human Rights Committee guidance noted that Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) had been previously interpreted by the committee to mean that all persons should receive information from the State regarding their covenant rights. Just a year prior the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution unequivocally stating that water access is essential to the enjoyment of the right to life protected by numerous human rights instruments, including the ICCPR. Thus, as water is a right protected by the ICCPR, there is a right to receive information about water policies from the state. The United States has ratified the ICCPR with no reservations related to Article 19, and as such is obligated to recognize the right to access information embodied within that section.
The human right to information is more expansive. It obligates government to take positive actions to share information. Access to government-held information is often the only way to determine the presence of inequities and inadequacies in a government’s support for human rights. Rising water costs, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the widening income gap in the U.S. have combined to spur a new legislative focus on water accessibility and affordability. Amidst ongoing calls for government responses to racial inequities, some state legislatures began to introduce requirements aimed at collecting data to document the prevalence and geographic spread of service disconnections. As of February 2023, six state legislatures have considered legislation requiring data collection and public reporting by water utilities. Several of these initiatives have resulted in new laws requiring additional reporting and information-sharing with the public.
The introduction and implementation of water utility reporting laws represents an important shift towards greater recognition of the human right to access information. If the promise contained in the UDHR and ICCPR of a right to access information is to be fully realized within the United States, then governments at the federal, state, and local levels must take steps to proactively make critical information available. The enactment of more, and more robust, water utility reporting requirements will ensure that recent progress continues while at the same time further ensuring realization of the human right to water.
Sunday, June 4, 2023
Event 6/15: 023 Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers' Network Symposium, Human Rights Treaty Obligations and the U.S.: The Rocky Road to Rights
Registration for the 2023 Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers' Network Symposium, Human Rights Treaty Obligations and the U.S.: The Rocky Road to Rights is now open. You can register now by clicking here. The symposium will address current challenges and opportunities for moving a human rights agenda in the United States, with a keynote address by UN Special Rapporteur Meg Satterthwaite. The event will take place on Zoom on June 15th from 1:00 – 4:30 pm EDT.
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Event 6/1: Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ACLU and SPLC side event during the 2nd session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent
On Thursday June 1, 2023, at 6:15pm ET, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center are jointly hosting a side event during the 2nd session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. The U.S. has long promoted human rights abroad, but largely fails to incorporate its own international human rights commitments into domestic law or policy. This side event will explore why and how NHRIs are essential to fulfillment of human rights of people of African Descent, obstacles caused by the lack of a U.S. NHRI, and best options for the U.S. to move toward joining its allies and UN member peers in creating an NHRI.
To join this side event via zoom, register at https://splcenter-org.zoom.us/j/6105889743.
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
By: Gabrielle Thomas1 and Denisse Córdova Montes
In 1808, the U.S. abolished the transatlantic slave trade, but today, the semiotics of the slave ship continues through forced movements and separations of migrants and refugees. Slave codes sustained through immigration laws and policies of both political parties endlessly reignite the generational trauma of forced removal. At a thematic hearing at the 186th Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), the Human Rights Clinic at University of Miami School of Law (HRC), alongside Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), RFK Human Rights (RFK), and University of Pennsylvania Transnational Legal Clinic (UPenn TLC), provided testimony of systemic racism committed by ICE officials against Haitian immigrants. At the hearing, we argued that the U.S. government’s treatment of Black migrants is discriminatory and in violation of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The U.S. government responded with an evasive claim of racially equitable practices within their immigration system.
Black Immigrants Face a Double Jeopardy of Being Both Black and Immigrants
The U.S. government’s lack of transparency about its racist practices, despite public and frequent documentation of the disproportionate negative treatment of Black immigrants, remains of the upmost concern. Black immigrants face a double jeopardy of being both Black and immigrant. They are stopped, questioned, arrested, and deported at disproportionate and higher rates. Black persons, more generally, are five times more likely to be stopped without cause than a white person. The racism of the militarized criminal justice system spills over into their immigration system creating a prison-to-deportation pipeline. In our hearing with the IACHR, Daniel Tse of HBA and RFK highlighted that, “though [Black migrants] are less than 6% of the undocumented population, they make up more than 20% of the immigrant population facing detention and deportation on criminal grounds.” Furthermore, “76% of [Black migrants] are deported because of contact with the police and the criminal legal system.”
Haitian Immigrants Face Heightened Discrimination in the Immigration System and are Deported to Conditions Tantamount to Torture
Haitian migrants, in particular, face heightened police harassment, heightened state monitoring, heightened unjust immigration enforcement, and harsher prosecution. Once arrested and put into ICE custody, Haitian migrants must pay higher bonds for release than other migrants in detention. These migrants also serve longer sentences in ICE custody and face a heightened risk of deportation. For black migrants, speaking out results in retaliatory violence from ICE officers and retaliatory transfers to distant facilities and unfamiliar lands.
Recently, our clinic documented conditions tantamount to torture in Haitian prisons, where recently deported individuals were detained upon arrival in Haiti. Once deported to Haiti, migrants were detained indefinitely, inflicted with severe pain and suffering, and faced heightened persecution, extortion, and harassment for being and sounding “American”. Many of these Haitians know no other home than America where their family reside. James – a man previously deported to Haiti – faced crippling discrimination as a “deep” – slang for deported individual – and encountered violations of his rights to work, health, family, food, and security while encountering gang kidnapping and brutality. Despite the horrors James faced, when questioned about the conditions he endured after deportation, James expressed his need to simply see his children. Before the U.S. deported James, he provided for his two daughters and remained a devoted father. He stressed that one of his daughters turns sixteen this year, but “they took [my] kids away,” and he is down in Haiti struggling
The U.S. Has a Long History of Anti-Black U.S. Immigration Policies
Forced movement and separation of Black migrants did not start with Trump era politics nor did they cease with the emancipation proclamation. The practice of ruthlessly ejecting Black persons from the U.S. started before the Civil War. Since the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1807, the U.S. has implemented anti-black immigration policies to prevent the unfavorable freed Black persons from coming into this country. The liberation of Haitians from French occupation nearly two thousand miles away, fueled Thomas Jefferson to pass a bill in 1803, prohibiting any “Negro and mulatto” migrants. During this total ban on Black migrants in the country, in the 1857 Dred Scott Dred Scott v. Sanford case, Mr. Scott and Mrs. Scott argued that after their perilous journey from chattel slavery to safety, they have a right to stay free and citizens. This 11-year struggle reaffirmed 1803 race-based restrictions on migration ending with the Supreme Court ruling that Mr. and Mrs. Scott, were not citizens and as, “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves, whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen and therefore did not have standing to sue in federal court.”
Forced Movement and Separation of Black Families Should Come to an End
The widespread emancipation of Black peoples throughout the Americas in the late nineteenth century further ignited racist and xenophobic sentiments. The Calvin Coolidge Administration implemented the Immigration Act of 1924 which turned away Black migrants with a nationality-based quota system that favored European countries. The U.S. executive branch continued to implement excessive anti-Black immigration policies under the Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations.
Today, the disproportionate treatment of Haitian migrants continues. Like the Immigration Act of 1924 with nationality-based quota system that preferred European countries, the Biden administration expelled nearly 20,000 Haitians the same year he extended protections to as many as 180,000 Ukrainian migrants. In 2021, confirming that U.S. border policies still operate to create a racial double-standard, the U.S. government decided to exempt Ukrainians from the Title 42 Policy that led to Homeland Security riding on horses into crowds of Haitian refugees with whips on December 6, 2021 exhibiting modern-day “Slave Patrol”.
The afterlife of the slave ship lives in policies that dehumanize Black migrants by disproportionately persecuting them and knowingly sending them to their torture and death. Newly obtained documents revealed that high-ranking ICE officials directly involved in the mass deportation of Black migrants felt disdain for Africa, disregard for Black migrants, and hostility towards immigrant rights activists. Who gets to be human in crisis? All migrants have a right to be treated with dignity. The disproportionate treatment of Black migrants and Haitians must come to an end and the U.S. should stop deportations to Haiti.
1Gabrielle Thomas is a rising 3L student at the University of Miami School of Law. She served as a Human Rights Clinic law intern as a 2L.
Sunday, May 28, 2023
From May 30 – June 2, 2023, the second session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent will be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
The session will open on Tuesday May 30, 2023 at 10 a.m. ET with a cultural performance, followed by a high-level segment, and a general debate. The thematic discussions will start on Tuesday afternoon and continue until Thursday afternoon, focusing on human rights concerns of people of African descent on issues, respectively: reparatory justice, Pan-Africanism, transnational migration, structural racism and data, health, well-being, and intergenerational trauma.
On Friday, the members of the Permanent Forum will present the preliminary conclusions and recommendations of the session. The session will close on Friday afternoon with a cultural performance.
Discussions on these thematic issues are aimed at contributing to the process of elaborating a UN Declaration on the promotion, protection, and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent. Dozens of side events are also expected to take place in person or virtually to expand the discussions beyond the plenary session.
The event is open to the public and can also be viewed via livestream here.
Friday, May 26, 2023
IACHR Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights to Meet with Indigenous Tribes
This week, May 22-26, 2023, the IACHR Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) is visiting and meeting with three Indigenous tribes from Alaska and leaders from four Indigenous communities in Louisiana for site visits and in-depth discussions about the impacts of the climate crisis on the social, economic, environmental, and cultural experiences of the Tribes. During these visits, the legal justice coalition involved will be spotlighting the human rights impacts of the climate crisis on Indigenous culture and livelihoods, the forced displacement of their communities and the role of the US government in addressing these issues.
This meeting is the result of an October 2022 IACHR hearing, where five tribes—four from Louisiana, one from Alaska—participated in a hearing about threats to tribal sovereignty and determination posed by climate change. As a result of the tribes’ testimonies, REDESCA asked the State Department for an in-loco visit to the United States to visit the tribes and understand how the climate crisis is impacting not only community infrastructure, but also how tribes have experienced economic, cultural, and social discrimination when trying to address climate change impacts. During the tour, members of the tribes will not only show the stark impacts of climate change and its effects on land, bodies of water, homes, and infrastructure, but will also discuss the institutional and systemic racism of both the U.S., Alaska, and Louisiana governments in providing inadequate resources for repair and recovery in the face of massive storms, catastrophic land collapse, soil erosion, rising waters, thawing permafrost, and decreasing arctic sea ice, among other impacts. REDESCA’s visit will provide a tool for the Tribe’s ongoing organizing and advocacy in ensuring that the State and Federal governments meet their obligations in protecting and upholding the rights of the Tribes.
You can read more about the IACHR hearing here: https://www.uusc.org/tribes-leadership-brings-climate-crisis-to-international-forum/
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
On Thursday, May 25, 2023, from 11 A.M. to 1:15 P.M. ET, the White House Gender Policy Council will release the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action. This first-ever National Plan advances an unprecedented and comprehensive approach to preventing and addressing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of gender-based violence (referred to collectively as GBV).
The White House Gender Policy Council will be hosting a launch event that will include two roundtable discussions. During the first roundtable, leaders from key federal agencies will highlight the role of their agencies in strengthening ongoing federal action and interagency collaboration to advance the goals of the National Plan through a whole-of-government approach. During the second roundtable, survivors, advocates, and other leaders from civil society, including community-based organizations and private sector organizations, will discuss the importance of mobilizing a whole of society approach to prevent and address GBV.
The event will be livestreamed. Register here.
Monday, May 8, 2023
UN Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice in the Context of Law Enforcement ends visit to U.S.
The UN Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement ended a 12-day visit to the United States of America on May 5, 2023, calling on the U.S. Government to boost efforts to promote accountability for past and future violations.
During the visit (April 24 to May 5, 2023), the Mechanism visited Washington DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City and met with representatives of civil society and victims, as well as federal, State and local officials including from law enforcement, city administrations, judicial actors, police unions and affinity groups.
In it's press release dated May 5, 2023, the Mechanism stated that it was
pleased to learn about various promising initiatives, including at the State level, that authorities have developed to combat racial discrimination affecting people of African descent. However, the Mechanism feels an urgency, and a moral responsibility, to echo the harrowing pain of victims and their resounding calls for accountability and support, which it heard throughout its journey.
"We saw some promising initiatives centering the voices of victims and survivors, as well as law enforcement initiatives that could be replicated throughout the United States. We welcome the reparatory measures taken so far, including executive orders signed in 2021 and 2022, as well as individual reparation initiatives by way of civilian settlement for damages,” said Tracie Keesee, an expert member of the Mechanism. “But we strongly believe that more robust action, including on part of federal authorities, is needed to result in strong accountability measures for past and future violations.”
“This includes boosting oversight mechanisms with compelling power; the allocation of appropriate resources; and the provision of robust and holistic reparation, support and rehabilitation to victims, including access to justice and health, including mental health services,” Keesee said.
The Mechanism has shared its preliminary findings with the government and will draft a full report to be published in the coming months and presented to the Human Rights Council at its 54th session (September-October 2023).
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
The Human Rights Cities Leadership Summit will take place in downtown Atlanta Georgia from May 18-21, 2023. Following the city’s recent passage of a resolution naming Atlanta the newest U.S. Human Rights City, Atlanta civil society and partners, along with supportive City Council members invite community activists, policy practitioners, legal experts, youth, and municipal leaders to come together to share ideas, lessons, and tools for promoting human rights in cities and communities. Now more than ever, cities need innovative ideas and strategies to address problems of affordable housing, community safety, climate change, racial and gender inequities, and reparatory justice. Learn how cities around the world are using international human rights law and institutions to shape local policies, with powerful impacts at the local level. Plenaries and breakout sessions will provide opportunities to learn, exchange and network. (Register at bit.ly/atlsummit23).
Featured plenary speakers include: Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and Global Director, The Shift/Right to Housing & Justin Hansford, Member of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University
Co-hosts: The Human Rights Cities Alliance, Southern Center for Human Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, Organization for Human Rights and Democracy, American Friends Service Committee-South Region, in cooperation with Atlanta civil society and supportive members of Atlanta City Council; Ronald J. Freeman Chapter of the Black Law Students Association at Georgia State University College of Law
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Hope came in the form of a Wisconsin election. “Liberal” candidate Janet Protasiewicz won a seat on the Supreme Court, defeating “conservative” Daniel Kelly. This election determined the balance of the court. Crucial human rights issues will come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, including abortion rights, voting rights, and gerrymandering. After a year of consistent defeats for the rights of women, people of color, and the poor, progressives hope for Supreme Court decisions that recognize the fundamental human rights of the litigants coming before them.
I am not a fan of labels. One cannot always predict how a labeled individual will behave. I prefer to know whether an individual appreciates and understands fundamental human rights. In this instance, those celebrating this victory do so with the hope that basic human rights will be the overriding principle of the court’s agenda.
We have passed through concerning times. Hope has not always been a close companion during this time, but a necessary one. For me, this election is a sign of hope. How nice that it arrived in early spring, along with the flowers and the birds. Here we have it!
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all
Lindsay M. Harris, Afghan Allies in Limbo: The U.S. Immigration Response, Howard Law Journal, Vol. 66, No. 3, (2023). Abstract below.
After the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the U.S. government airlifted an estimated 120,000 people to safety from Afghanistan. An airlift of this scale was unprecedented, but also woefully inadequate as a solution to the Afghan humanitarian crisis. This article analyzes the U.S. immigration response to the Afghan humanitarian crisis following the Taliban takeover.
While the U.S. granted humanitarian parole for two years to approximately 76,000 individuals permitting them to enter the United States, along with creating a new category of priority for refugee processing for Afghans, the government and Congress to date have failed to follow through on logical and stable pathways to permanent immigration status for our Afghan allies.
The U.S. has failed the Afghans airlifted to the United States by failing to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act and forcing Afghans through the dysfunctional and delayed Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process or the backlogged and re-traumatizing asylum system. Similarly, the government’s handling of the estimated 66,000 humanitarian parole applications filed on behalf of Afghans still trapped in Afghanistan or in the region has been nothing short of abysmal. Approval rates plummeted after the end of August 2021 and the U.S. government took in over $25 million in fees for applications that have since languished for now close to a year.
In contrast, the U.S. created an innovative and expeditious process for the reception of Ukrainian refugees – eliminating hurdles and barriers still in place for Afghans and facilitating the admission of over 150,000 Ukrainians into the United States. Months later, the U.S. created a special process for humanitarian parole for Venezuelans, and then later Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians. This article situates the disparate treatment of Afghans and Ukrainians as one of the latest episodes in the long history of racism in the creation, execution, and implementation of immigration policy in the United States. The stark contrast in treatment for Ukrainians and Afghans underscores the need for an end to biased decision-making and to truly welcome those fleeing violence and conflict with a principled and impartial immigration system, grounded in humanitarian principles.