Representatives of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund are in Geneva, Switzerland, this week as a U.N. committee reviews the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The organizations submitted a shadow report — “Holding the Line: Combating Racial Discrimination in a Divided America” — to the committee ahead of its review documenting areas where the United States has fallen behind in its obligations to eliminate racial discrimination. The report notes that while the Biden administration has taken important steps to reverse some of the most egregious human rights violations of the Trump administration, more still needs to be done to bring the United States into compliance with its CERD obligations.
CERD is an international human rights treaty that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. The United States ratified CERD in 1994, and the government submitted its latest report to the United Nations in June 2021 after the Trump administration failed to file any reports and violated the United States’ obligations to comply with the treaty. This week, the U.N. committee in Geneva is examining the government’s report and recent efforts to implement CERD.
Leadership Conference and Education Fund representatives in Geneva include Wade Henderson, former president and CEO; June Zeitlin, senior advisor; and Nadia Aziz, senior director of the fighting hate and bias program. Ahead of the committee’s official review of the United States — which began today — Henderson, Zeitlin, and Aziz have been attending meetings, speaking with the CERD committee and other members of civil society, and highlighting the recommendations outlined in “Holding the Line.”
“The United States is today facing a coordinated campaign by extremist forces to weaken the power of people historically pushed to the margins. This report documents the harm done and offers a blueprint to ensure that all people are afforded civil and human rights protections under the U.S. Constitution and in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,” writes Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund, in a foreword to the report. “The work ahead will require each of us to do our part to stop the erosion of our rights and save our democracy. We hope this report will be useful to policymakers and advocates as we work toward our collective goal of building a just and inclusive nation for all.”
“Holding the Line” is one of several shadow reports submitted by civil society and covers a number of critical issues, including criminal-legal reform, hate crimes, voting rights, housing discrimination and segregation, education, health care access, and immigration. It offers recommendations to enhance the government’s implementation of its obligations under CERD.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.