Obama Urged to Issue Executive Order on Human Right to Ensure U.S. Compliance With U.N. Treaties

By Susan Jones | May 19, 2010 | 11:44 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. State Department is asking state and local human rights commissions to help it prepare an obligatory report to the United Nations on how the U.S. is advancing the human rights set forth in various treaties.

The Human Rights at Home Campaign – a coalition of more than 50 U.S.-based groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International – on Wednesday applauded the State Department’s “unprecedented outreach” to human rights commissions and agencies across the country.

Those state and local groups are now pressing President Obama to issue an executive order establishing a domestic human rights infrastructure that would help the U.S. meet its obligations to “respect, protect and fulfill human rights for all.”
The Human Rights at Home Campaign says more than 150 commissions or agencies have been established by state, county or city governments “to promote and enforce human and civil rights, further positive race and intergroup relations, and/or to conduct research, training and public education and issue policy recommendations.”
Those state and local groups can play and important role in ensuring broad human rights compliance within the United States, the Human Rights at Home Campaign said in a news release. 
As an example of the work being done by state and local groups, the Human Rights at Home Campaign pointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, which produces an annual report analyzing hate crimes in Los Angeles County, and is now launching a campaign to address “rising violence against people who are homeless.” 
But to do their job more effectively, state and local human rights agencies want federal assistance in form of “dedicated staff, education and training, and funding.” More manpower and money would allow state and local commissions and agencies to “engage more fully with the federal government in the human rights reporting and implementation efforts.”
The Human Rights at Home Campaign is urging President Obama to issue an executive order creating a federal inter-agency working group on human rights. 
A petition posted on the American Civil Liberties Union Web site says President Obama, by issuing an executive order, would reinforce the message human rights must begin at home and that the U.S. should lead by example.   
The petition calls for:
-- an explicit commitment implementing the full spectrum of human rights as envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizing that every human being is entitled not only to civil and political rights but also to economic, social and cultural rights.
-- mechanisms to ensure human rights standards are integrated and enforced across the government;
-- human rights impact assessments and studies to ensure that government policies, pending legislation and regulations are consistent with human rights commitments;
-- a requirement that inspectors general, civil rights and civil liberties offices within departments, and the Government Accountability Office incorporate human rights obligations and analysis in their reviews and investigations of government agencies, policies and programs;
--  a plan of action to fully implement and incorporate human rights obligations into domestic and foreign policy, including following up on recommendations made by human rights bodies such as the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the U.N. Human Rights Council.
-- meaningful periodic consultations with civil society and enhanced collaboration between federal, state and local governments on implementation and enforcement of human rights obligations.
“Help us urge the President to issue a strong, comprehensive Executive Order that will result in meaningful progress on domestic human rights,” the petition says.

Also see:
State Department’s Annual Human Rights Report Does Not Examine U.S., But the Next Report Will (March 12, 2010)
Clinton State Department Working With 'Advocacy Groups' to Prepare 'Human Rights' Report on U.S. to Give to U.N. (March 12, 2010)