Monday, February 5, 2024

March – April 2024 Deadlines: Calls for Input by Human Rights Mechanisms

The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in March – April 2024 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the High Commissioner’s report on how climate change can have an impact on the realization of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl. Deadline March 1, 2024. Read more.

Working Group on Business and Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the Working Group’s report on respecting the rights of LGBTI people in the context of business activities: fulfilling obligations and responsibilities under the UNGPs. Deadline March 1, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the United States of America, scheduled to take place from 29 April to 10 May 2024, focused on academic freedom and safety at all levels of education and access to public education from kindergarten to 12th grade without discrimination. Deadline March 2, 2024. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs on application of digital technologies in the administration of justice, to inform the Secretary General’s report to the General Assembly on human rights in the administration of justice. Deadline March 9, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Call for inputs on the challenges faced by mobile Indigenous Peoples, and the initiatives undertaken by States, Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders to recognize and respect their rights, to inform the Special Rapporteur’s upcoming report. Deadline March 15, 2024. Read more

Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries – Call for inputs to inform the WG’s 2024 thematic report on financing and mercenaries and mercenary related actors. Deadline March 15, 2024. Read more.

Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries – Call for inputs to inform the WG’s 2024 thematic report on arms trafficking and mercenaries and mercenary related actors. Deadline March 15, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s 2024 thematic report on Pollution Information Portals and strengthening access to information on releases of hazardous substances. Deadline March 22, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing – Call for inputs to inform the forthcoming reports of the Special Rapporteur on resettlement as a human rights issue. Deadline March 31, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery – Call for inputs on the role of workers’ organisations in preventing and addressing contemporary forms of slavery. Deadline March 31, 2024. Read more.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Committee on Migrant Works – Joint call for inputs to inform concept paper on obligations of state parties on public policies for addressing and eradicating xenophobia and its impact on the rights of migrants, their families, and other non-citizens affected by racial discrimination. Deadline March 31, 2024. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs on promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality. Deadline April 1, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s report on violence against women and girls in sport. Deadline April 8, 2024. Read more.

 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the expert workshop and High Commissioner’s report to the Human Rights Council on the centrality of care and support from a human rights perspective. Deadline April 13, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures – Call for inputs to develop a comprehensive set of Guiding Principles to be used by states, regional organizations, businesses and other actors with regards to sanctions and compliance, and, by that, to minimize negative impact of all types of sanctions, compliance and over-compliance with sanctions on human rights. Deadline April 30, 2024. Read more.

This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.

February 5, 2024 in Advocacy, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 1, 2023

December 2023 – March 2024 Deadlines: Calls for Input by Human Rights Mechanisms

The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in December 2023 – March 2024 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the High Commissioner’s report to the Human Rights Council on the impact of arms transfers on human rights. Deadline December 31, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures – Call for inputs to collect relevant articles, reports, publications and information to develop the Sanctions Research Platform. Deadline January 1, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – Call for inputs for his thematic report on “Eradicating poverty in a post-growth context: preparing for the next Development Goals.” Deadline January 15, 2024. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs to inform the Secretary-General’s analytical study on the impact of loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, exploring equity-based approaches and solutions to addressing the same. Deadline January 31, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls – Call for inputs to better understand the relationship between prostitution and violence against women, to clarify terms, approaches and actions States should take in order to maintain the spirit of international human rights law and to effectively protect women and girls from all forms of violence. Deadline January 31, 2024. Read more.

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Call for inputs on “Laws, legislation, policies, constitutions, judicial decisions and other mechanisms in which States had taken measures to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in accordance with article 38 of the Declaration.” Deadline January 31, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures – Call for inputs on “Access to justice in the face of unilateral sanctions and over-compliance.” Deadline February 28, 2024. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing – Call for inputs on the topic of resettlement as a human rights issue. Deadline March 31, 2024. Read more.    

This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.

December 1, 2023 in Global Human Rights, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

U.N. Human Rights Committee Offers Critical Recommendations for Transgender Rights in the United States

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By: Nic Stelter, Student Fellow & Tamar Ezer, Acting Director Human Rights Clinic, University of Miami School of Law

As we mark the end of Transgender Awareness Month, the United States needs to take a hard look at rampant discrimination against transgender communities. Since 2019, laws violating transgender rights have swept the country:

  • 14 states limit discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools and prohibit the use of transgender students’ names and pronouns.
  • In 9 states, transgender individuals are prohibited from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity in schools, as well other public spaces in some cases.
  • 22 states ban at least some forms of gender-affirming health care for children, and 5 of these states punish gender-affirming care as a felony.
  • In 23 states, transgender students are banned from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
  • We’ve seen book bans double with 45.5% of books targeted written by or about LGBTQ+ individuals.

Moreover, lawmakers have introduced over 500 more bills limiting transgender rights in just the last year.

Our Human Rights Clinic had the opportunity to support a coalition, including Human Rights Watch, Equality Florida, Florida Health Justice Project, Southern Legal Counsel, and Southern Poverty Law Center in advocacy before the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Committee, as it reviewed the U.S. for compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This included submission of a shadow report on human rights violations against transgender communities, development of a factsheet, and oral presentations to the Committee.

Earlier this month, the Human Rights Committee released its Concluding Observations and underscored with concern “the increase of state legislation that severely restricts the rights of persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Additionally, it pointed to hate crimes and prevalent discrimination in access to housing, employment, and other services. The Committee found violations of the rights to equality and non-discrimination; freedom of expression; privacy; family; life; and freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

To prevent these abuses, the Human Rights Committee urged the U.S. to “adopt all measures necessary to ensure that state laws that discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity are repealed and that comprehensive legislative initiatives prohibiting discrimination on those grounds . . . are adopted at the federal, state, local and territorial levels.” The Committee further called on the U.S. to investigate harassment and violence against transgender individuals and make sure that “perpetrators are brought to justice and victims are provided with effective remedies and redress.”

It is time for the U.S. to heed the Committee’s recommendations. Its findings, as Human Rights Watch noted, are “a wake-up call for state and federal lawmakers.” As one of our partners, a former teacher and transgender resident of Florida, poignantly stated, “Trans people are humans too and deserve to live in this country.” Let’s make the U.S a place where everyone can live with dignity. We hope the Concluding Observations can serve as a tool in pushing this forward.

November 29, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, Transgender, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

News: UN Special Rapporteur Calls Out U.S. and Three Major Corporations, for “Trapping Workers in Poverty”

Three of the largest corporations in the world - Amazon, DoorDash, and Walmart - received letters from the UN Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights on August 31, 2023, in which he called them out for their treatment of workers. The Special Rapporteur specifically referenced Amazon and Walmart’s union-busting activities, which has hampered the ability of workers to utilize their right to collective bargaining and better their conditions, pay, and benefits, and DoorDash’s insistence that their delivery drivers are independent contractors rather than employees, which denies them traditional employment benefits such as minimum wage guarantees. He also referenced a U.S. government report which stated that employees from these companies are among the highest recipients of government medical and food assistance, arguing that employers have a responsibility to give their employees a path out of poverty, instead of relying on government assistance to justify paying their workers the lowest wages possible. 

The Special Rapporteur also wrote to the United States government on August 31, 2023, going through all of the allegations against all of these companies and requesting information on its plans to address the widespread in-work poverty in the country. “The allegations against Amazon, DoorDash and Walmart would constitute flagrant violations of these rights and it is time for these corporations, and the U.S. Government, to be held accountable,” he said.

Read more about this topic here. Find the original letters from the Special Rapporteur and the responses from Amazon and Walmart here.

November 21, 2023 in Business, Poor, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 16, 2023

News: UN Special Rapporteur on Racism Issues Statement Following United States Visit

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ashwini K.P, has issued her official statement following her two-week visit to the United States this past month. She visited Washington D.C., Detroit, MI, Flint, MI, Los Angeles CA, Baton Rouge, LA, and Atlanta, GA, where she met with federal and state authorities, individuals from racial and ethnic groups, civil society organizations, service providers, academics, and other stakeholders to get a full picture of the state of racism in the United States.

In her press conference on November 14, 2023, Ashwini implored the U.S. government to “increase its efforts to address enduring systemic racism,” and expressed shock at how deeply the system of racism runs in every state she visited, and how these systems continue to reinforce themselves. She cited testimonies she received from members of racially marginalized groups, which detailed voter disenfranchisement, homelessness, environmental racism, racially discriminatory food systems, inequitable healthcare and health outcomes and discriminatory migration governance systems. Ashwani warned that the U.S. needs to increase and improve its anti-racism efforts, and further address white supremacy, underlying power imbalances, and historical drivers of racism and racial discrimination.

Read the UN’s press release here. Read the Special Rapporteur’s full statement here.  

November 16, 2023 in Discrimination, Race, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

New Article: A Global View of U.S. Backsliding on Democracy and Reproductive Rights

Martha F. Davis and Risa Kaufman, A Global View of U.S. Backsliding on Democracy and Reproductive Rights, ACS Blogs, Expert Forum (Nov. 13, 2023). Excerpt below.

This month, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded its review of the United States’ human rights record. Nine years had passed since the Committee’s last review of the U.S. With many urgent issues to address – including gun violence, excessive use of force by law enforcement, climate change, and Guantanamo – the Committee trained particular focus on the state of reproductive rights and democracy in the United States. The Committee’s alarm over the flood of restrictions on reproductive and bodily autonomy, alongside its deep concern over attacks on the right to vote, points to the deep connections between reproductive rights and democracy. Americans have a front row view of these connections in the wake of the Supreme Court majority’s decision in Dobbs to eliminate federal constitutional protections for abortion and leave the issue up to the political branches and the states. The global perspective offered by the UN review is a reminder, however, that regression on reproductive rights reinforces and supports erosion of democracy. These are mutually reinforcing trends. And the UN review underscores the urgency of safeguarding both.

November 15, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, Martha F. Davis, Reproductive Rights, Risa Kaufman, United Nations, Women's Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Event 11/10: Constitutionalizing Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Webinar

On November 10, 2023, from 12:00-1:30pm CST, join the Northeastern University Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy and the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School for a webinar on Constitutionalizing Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as part of the UN Human Rights's Hernan Santa Cruz Dialogues Series on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

This conversation will explore the various ways in which Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) rights are (or are not) embedded in national or subnational constitutions. Speakers will share experiences with constitutional drafting as well as thoughts about constitutional construction, and the role of international human rights law in those processes. An overarching focus will be on the impacts of constitutionalizing ESC rights. 

The event will feature invited experts: Katie Boyle, Professor of Human Rights Law and Social Justice at the University of Strathclyde and constitutional lawyer with the Government Legal Service for Scotland; Denisse Córdova Montes, Acting Associate Director in the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law; Jacqueline Dugard, Senior Lecturer in the discipline of Human Rights and Political Science at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Department of Political Science, Columbia University; and Domingo Lovera-Parmo, Associate Professor of law at Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile.

The panel will be moderated by Martha Davis, Northeastern University Distinguished Professor of Law, and Amanda Lyons, Executive Director, Human Rights Center at University of Minnesota Law School.

To register for this event, click here.

November 2, 2023 in Economic Justice, social justice, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Event 11/2: Reassessing the Efficacy of the Rules-Based International Order in Promoting Human Rights, Peace, and Security in the Modern Age

On Thursday, November 2, at 6:00P.M. ET, join the University of Miami School of Law for their 11th annual Henkin Lecture on Human Rights on Reassessing the Efficacy of the Rules-Based International Order in Promoting Human Rights, Peace, and Security in the Modern Age. The speaker will be Keith Harper, the former U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a Partner at Jenner & Block, and an Independent Expert on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII).

The system of international laws, agreements, and institutions established after the Second World War—often referred to as the rules-based international order (RBIO)—has been remarkably enduring. This order entails international cooperation and norm establishment through multilateral institutions (like the United Nations and World Trade Organization) and is based on principles of human equality, open markets, security, cooperation, liberal democracy, and monetary cooperation. The United States has invested over many decades to form, buttress, support and protect this order, spending treasure, time, and resources to promote human rights and a world of greater security. Has the system done its job? And does it have the capacity to address the increasingly complex challenges of today’s world? This lecture will explore the efficacy of the current international order. Has it effectively adapted to address urgent issues facing today’s world—from the rights of Indigenous Peoples, to the responsibilities of businesses to prevent and address human rights impacts, to the challenges of ensuring international peace and security, including, notably, the examples of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war?

The lecture will take place in person at the University of Miami School of Law, Room F209, and will also be live broadcast over Zoom. Register for the webinar here.

October 26, 2023 in United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

U.S. failure to meaningfully consult with civil society during the 2023 ICCPR review

By Sarah Dávila A. and Lauren E. Bartlett 

“What do we want - DIGNITY; When do we want it - NOW; And if we don’t get it - SHUT IT DOWN”

    On Monday Oct. 16, 2023, over thirty people from U.S. civil society organizations held a protest in the streets of Geneva, Switzerland. This unusual event came out of years of frustration with the U.S. government’s refusal to meaningfully consult with U.S. civil society ahead of and during U.S. human rights reviews in Geneva. Some protesters silently walked out of a meeting at the U.S. Mission. Those protesters then joined a larger group waiting outside with posters, lots of energy, and most importantly demanding to be heard while marching in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, chanting together (see protest calls above and at the end of this post below). Then again, today on Oct. 18, 2023, U.S. civil society protested the lack of meaningful participation by the U.S. government relating to its review of the ICCPR, by turning their backs after the review had concluded.

    This week marks the Fifth Periodic Review of the United States’ compliance with its duties and obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). During its review of the United States, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (Human Rights Committee), a treaty body made up of independent human rights independent experts, will monitor U.S. compliance with the ICCPR.  

    The Human Rights Committee has four monitoring functions, in its supervision and monitoring of the implementation of the ICCPR. The Human Rights Committee: (1) receives and examines reports from State parties on their progress in upholding the treaty; (2) provides general comments, interpreting the ICCPR; (3) receives and considers individual complaints (“communications”); and (4) considers inter-state complaints relating to state failure to upload ICCPR obligations.

    During this 139th Session, the Human Rights Committee had the opportunity to ask questions of the U.S. government and will provide recommendations (“concluding observations”) for measures to be taken at the federal, state, and local levels to advance and protect human rights under the treaty).

    The Human Rights Committee questioned U.S. officials about their laws and practices, but also heard, both formally and informally, from civil society (non-profits, directly impacted individuals, advocates engaging with communities in the U.S., law professors and law students, among others) about the United States’ compliance with the ICCPR. These interventions by civil society are very important to the treaty body’s work; by helping shape the questions that must be asked of the United States given the reality of human rights on the ground. Civil society interventions will also help inform the Human Rights Committee’s recommendations on the United States which will be issued on Nov. 3, 2023. In turn, civil society will use the recommendations issued by the Committee in advocacy work in the United States.

    U.S. civil society participation in U.S. human rights treaty body reviews has been historically very high, especially compared with other countries who participate in reviews. In fact, this week there were more than 140 people from U.S. civil society organizations in Geneva.  Civil society should have an opportunity to participate in this review process through real and meaningful consultation with the U.S. government as well as  submit public reports based on the list of issues provided by the Human Rights Committee. The reports covered a variety of very pressing issues, including human rights violations in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, legal status, and socioeconomic problems. Those reports provided very concrete recommendations for the U.S. government on how to take action and actually protect human rights under the ICCPR. 

    Meaningful participation is critical in treaty-based reviews of country obligations under treaties, such as the ICCPR. As a human right, all persons have the right to freely participate in public affairs, as guaranteed under Article 25 of the ICCPR. The right to participation is critical to the advancement of all human rights because it promotes democracy, the rule of law, social inclusion, economic development, and overall visibility and the ability to be heard by government official. Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 25 provides that individuals have the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, including the formulation and implementation of policy at the international and regional levels.

    Effective participation must be a process that includes a variety of stakeholders, including State and non-State actors, private entities, civil society, and affected populations.  Special attention must be given to the effective participation of women, gender-minorities, indigenous peoples, and other disenfranchised and vulnerable populations whose voices have not been heard and who have been historically excluded from participatory processes.

    While the current administration has held consultations, they have fallen short of providing specific implementation measures to comply with the ICCPR and the consultation process itself, which requires meaningful participation. Moreover, those consultations were held with little to no government interaction or response. Additionally, U.S. government officials invited a limited number of people (approx. 50% of civil society attending the review in Geneva), to the U.S. Mission for a consultation and reception, ignoring calls by civil society for a location that would accommodate all civil society members interested in attending. During that meeting, as with previous consultation processes earlier in the decade, government officials have routinely used pre-written statements not responsive to civil society interventions, thus reflecting the true nature and superficiality of the consultation process to date.

    Just last year when the United States’ compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was reviewed in July 2022, the U.S. similarly engaged very superficially without engaging meaningfully with civil society. The United States is not doing enough to meaningfully consult with civil society during human rights treaty body reviews and the protest on Monday and today are a direct result of the frustration and anger felt by civil society after being ignored once again by the U.S. while being reviewed by the Human Rights Committee this week in Geneva.

“Derechos humanos por eso aqui estamos.”

October 18, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Event 10/12: Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue on Human Rights Economy Webinar

On Thursday, October 12, 2023, at 5:30 PM EST, please join UN Human Rights and Columbia University for a dialogue exploring the question: “Are we ready for a transformative revolution to ensure a unique paradigm shift-- one that seeks to redress root causes and structural barriers to equality, justice, and sustainability, by prioritizing investment in all rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights?” 

The event will feature Rana Farhoor, Columnist & Associated Editor at Financial Times and Economic Analyst at CNN, in conversation with Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;  Minouche Shafik, President of Columbia University; José Antonio Ocampo, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at Columbia University; and Attiya Waris, Independent Expert on foreign debt, other international financial obligations and human rights at the United Nations.

The event will be held in person at the Low Library of Columbia University (535 W 116th St, New York, NY) and livestreamed on Columbia University’s YouTube channel. Register for the in-person event here.

October 5, 2023 in Economics, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The UN Human Rights Committee Will Review the U.S. Next Month. Why Not Engage with the Committee on the Abolition of Immigration Detention of Children? – Part II

Bartlett_laurenBy Lauren E. Bartlett

Prof. Bartlett writes this second of a two-part post on the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s upcoming review of the United States during the week of October 16th.

For over a decade, international human rights mechanisms have been calling for a complete prohibition on the detention of migrant children, with or without their families, based solely on migration status. There is a consensus in international human rights law that any deprivation of liberty of children based solely on migration status, no matter how brief, is a violation of human rights law and may amount to ill-treatment. In 2012, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that the detention of children based on their migration status or their parents’ migration status is a clear human rights violation. In 2015, Juan Mendez, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment stated that “States should, expeditiously and completely, cease the detention of children, with or without their parents, on the basis of their immigration status.” Both Juan Mendez and his successor, Nils Melzer, agree that the detention of migrant children based solely on migration status is never in the best interests of the child, as it “exceeds the requirement of necessity and proportionality and, even in case of short-term detention, may amount to ill-treatment.” The European Court of Human Rights has noted that the best interests of the child must be determined on an individual basis in assessing the possibility to admit, return, expel, deport, repatriate, reject at the border.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants dedicated his 2020 thematic report to ending the immigration detention of children. In that report he stated that the “human rights of children have neither nationality nor borders.” The child’s right to non-discrimination includes the protection of children against all forms of discrimination and punishment, “including specifically on the basis of the status of the child and his or her parents or family members.” The Special Rapporteur on migrants also stated that the “imperative requirement not to deprive the child of liberty extends to the child’s parents and requires the authorities to provide alternative measures to detention for the entire family.” Clearly U.S. practices of depriving children of their liberty, without access to adequate food, healthcare, or education, separated from their family members, for prolonged periods of time in hieleras, solely based on their migration status, is a violation of international human rights law.

U.S. Should Explore a Path Towards the Abolition of Immigration Detention for Children

The United States is closer than many may think to abolishing the immigration detention of children. The Biden Administration has officially halted the practice of caging children at the border since 2021, instead releasing migrant children and their families into the United States with ankle bracelets or traceable cellphones to keep track of them. The U.S. government has recognized that the harms perpetrated on children are severe and long-lasting, and though the United States has not outlawed the practice, U.S. law already provides for limits on immigration detention of children and minimum standards of detention conditions.

Moreover, and despite American exceptionalism, the United States does regularly avail itself to the expertise and guidance of human rights mechanisms. For example, the United States rejoined the U.N. Human Rights Council, the United States attends and participates in treaty body reviews, the Universal Periodic Review, Inter-American Commission hearings, and official visits from human rights experts.

If President Biden hopes to stick to his commitment of avoiding the detention of migrant children at all costs, he will need help. Instead of making excuses, the U.S. government should take advantage of the expert guidance that can be provided by international human rights mechanisms, including by the U.N. Human Rights Committee during its review of the United States in October 2023. Compliance with recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms is voluntary and relatively little domestic attention is given to U.S. engagement with these mechanisms. The expertise and guidance that international human rights mechanisms can provide on this subject is unparalleled.

Abolition of immigration detention of children is the right thing to do and in line with U.S. international human rights obligations; the United States can start down the path of dismantling its racist, oppressive, and violent immigration system and prevent future long-term harm to the hundreds of thousands of migrant children each year.

October 3, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, Immigration, Incarcerated, Lauren Bartlett, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 2, 2023

The UN Human Rights Committee Will Review the U.S. Next Month. Why Not Engage with the Committee on the Abolition of Immigration Detention of Children? – Part I

Bartlett_laurenBy Lauren E. Bartlett

Prof. Bartlett writes this two-part post on the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s upcoming review of the United States during the week of October 16th.

The U.S. human rights record will be on full display next month when the U.N. Human Rights Committee finally gets to review the Fifth Periodic Report submitted by the United States during the final days of the Trump administration in January 2021. Some important federal immigration policies have changed for the better under the Biden administration, including a halt, however temporary it might be, on the inhumane practice of detaining migrant children and their families in cages at the border. However, the U.S. report does not reflect those changes despite calls by human rights advocates for updates and it is unlikely that the topic of the abolition of immigration detention of children will be given much play during the review.

If the Biden administration is serious about forging a path towards the abolition of immigration detention of children, it should at the very least engage on the topic with international human rights mechanisms, including during the upcoming review of the United States by the U.N. Human Rights Committee. This is a relatively low stakes step that the U.S. government can take towards abolition.

Migrant Children Detained at the U.S. Border

Detaining children in cages even for short periods of time is traumatic and has negative long-lasting impacts on child health and well-being. While some countries around the globe have outlawed the detention of children based solely on migration status, U.S. law allows officials to put children in cages at the border for up to twenty days and that time limit is rarely enforced.

Until just a year and a half ago, the United States detained hundreds of thousands of migrant children in cages each year. Out of nearly 2 million people detained by the United States at the border from February 2017 through June 2021, more than 650,000 were children. Children detained at the border were held in cages that were built decades ago, at a time when most detained migrants were adult men who were held briefly and rapidly deported. Migrant children were detained in wire cages or tents and then were later moved to larger cinder block cells. The children reported that the food was spoiled and made them sick. Kids with injuries, fevers, coughs or stomachaches could not get basic medical care. Children were held for weeks in the same wet and filthy clothes after journeying thousands of miles and crossing the Rio Grande river. Children also reported bone-chilling cold from the air-conditioned cinder block cells, which are known across the border as hieleras, meaning iceboxes in Spanish.

There are many excuses used by the U.S. government for putting migrant children in cages. These excuses include security and terrorism, deterrence, risk of absconding, public health, and ensuring the child’s well-being. However, detention is never in a child’s best interest and the ill-treatment endured by child migrants means these excuses fall short of justifying these practices. Moreover, many of the detained migrant children, up to forty-six percent or more, had valid asylum claims and require protection as refugees under international law.

At least for the time being, the U.S. government no longer puts migrant children in cages. Today, migrant children with their families at the border must wait near the border for their turn to use the mobile app called CBP One. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is allowing roughly 40,000 migrants per month to make appointments through the CPB one app, with more than 100,000 migrants waiting to use the app at any given time. If a family receives an appointment and their asylum claims are processed by the Border Patrol, they are supposed to be briefly processed by the Border Patrol and then released into the United States with their movements tracked through a GPS monitoring device, such as ankle bracelets or traceable cellphone.

Unaccompanied children at the border detained by Border Patrol are now supposed to be immediately transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR places unaccompanied children in shelters and then with sponsors, usually family members, as they await immigration proceedings. Though the ORR has used large temporary facilities to detain unaccompanied children at the border in the past, which resemble the Border Patrol cages and hieleras, no migrant children have been held in such a temporary facility since 2022 according to the ORR’s website.

While current practices regarding migrant children at the border do not officially involve cages, there are ongoing worries about conditions in the CBP and ORR facilities. In addition, there is a strong argument that GPS monitoring is just another form of oppressive and racialized violence perpetuated against migrants. The bottom line is that no inhumane, cruel or tortuous practices should be perpetuated by the U.S. government against migrant children.

October 2, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, Immigration, Incarcerated, Lauren Bartlett, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

EMLER Side Event Flyer Final
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.

September 29, 2023 in Race, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

September 28, 2023 in Race, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 22, 2023

October – November 2023 Deadlines: Calls for Input by Human Rights Mechanisms

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.

September 22, 2023 in United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 13, 2023

July – September 2023 Deadlines: Calls for Input by Human Rights Mechanisms

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.

July 13, 2023 in United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

May 31, 2023 in Discrimination, Race, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Event 5/30-6/2: Second Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent

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.

May 28, 2023 in Global Human Rights, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

 For more, visit https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/05/usa-whole-government-leadership-needed-address-legacy-slavery-and-redefine

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).

 

May 8, 2023 in Criminal Justice, Police, Race, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 31, 2023

April - May 2023 Deadlines: Calls for Inputs by UN Human Rights Mechanisms

The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in April – May 2023 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for the preparation of the 2023 report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 47/21 on systemic racism and violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies. Deadline April 3, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for a police brief on universal health coverage that will provide guidance on implementation of universal health coverage that is consistent with legally binding human rights norms, including the right to health and the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Deadline April 3, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities – Call for inputs on thematic report on Rebuilding Inclusive Societies in Post-Conflict Situations and the active involvement of Persons with Disabilities. Deadline April 5, 2023. Read more.

Special Procedures – Call for inputs on the development of practical tools to assist law enforcement bodies in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of peaceful protests. Deadline April 7, 2023. Read more.

Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent – Call for written submissions on the economic empowerment of people of African descent. Deadline April 9, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for report for UN General Assembly resolution 77/205 “A global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.” Deadline April 10, 2023. Read more.

Subcommittee on prevention of torture – Call for comments on draft general comment 1 on places of deprivation of liberty (article 4) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. Deadline April 14, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights – Call for inputs to a report on cultural rights and the governance of development. Deadline April 14, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences – Call for input on the use of technology in facilitating and preventing contemporary forms of slavery. Deadline April 14, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs: implementation of Resolution A/RES/76/162 on human rights and cultural diversity. Deadline April 15, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs on intimidation and reprisals for the annual report of the Secretary-General. Deadline April 15, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Deadline April 15, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation – Call for inputs for thematic report on fulfilling the human rights of those living in poverty and restoring the health of aquatic ecosystems: two converging challenges. Deadline April 20, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples – Call for inputs on green financing and a just transition to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Deadline April 21, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context – Call for inputs on housing affordability. Deadline April 30, 2023. Read more.

Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons – Call for inputs for a report on older persons in the context of climate change-induced disasters and building back better. Deadline May 1, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment – Call for inputs 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. The Special Rapporteur is also seeking inputs on the rights to environmental education, freedom of expression and association, and safe spaces for environmental human rights defenders. Deadline May 1, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers – Call for inputs on the promise of legal empowerment to expand and transform access to justice. Deadline May 5, 2023. Read more.

International Independent Expert Mechanism to advance racial justice and equality in law enforcement – Call for inputs on reimagining policing. Deadline May 12, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance – Call for inputs on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Deadline May 26, 2023. Read more.

This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.

March 31, 2023 in United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)