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Labi Siffre, Something Inside So Strong

This report is distributed by the U.S. Human Rights Network. To order additional copies or to
download the report, visit the network website at: www.ushrnetwork.org

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S T A T E S

JUST LOOK
THEM IN
THE EYES
AND SAY
WE’RE
GONNA
DO IT
ANYWAY.

SOMETHING
INSIDE SO
STRONG
A RESOURCE GUIDE ON

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE
U N I T E D S TAT E S

[R]ecognition of the inherent dignity
and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human
family is the foundation of freedom,
justice and peace in the world...
.[D]isregard and contempt for human
rights has resulted in barbarous acts
which have outraged the conscience of
mankind, and the advent of a world
in which human beings shall enjoy
freedom of speech and belief and
freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration
of the common people... .[I]t is
essential, if a man is not to be
compelled to have recourse, as a last
resort, to rebellion against tyranny
and oppression, that human rights should
be protected by the rule of law.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S

Summit Participants

This resource guide is drawn from the
Second Leadership Summit on
Human Rights in the United States in
July 2002. It would not have been
possible without the activism and
insights of the over 50 participants
(see list at Appendix A). The Summit
itself was generously hosted by the
Howard University Law School and
supported by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Shaler Adams Foundation. We gratefully
acknowledge their contributions, and the invaluable assistance of the Center for Economic and
Social Rights which served as this project’s fiscal agent.
The guide was written and edited by Eunice Cho, Lisa A. Crooms, Heidi Dorow, Andy Huff, Ethel
Long Scott and Dorothy Q. Thomas with additional editing by Cathy Albisa and Cindy Soohoo.
Additional editorial oversight was provided by members of the planning committee for the
Howard Summit: Cathy Albisa, Chandra Bhatnagar, Lisa Crooms, Krishanti Dharmaraj, Steve
Hawkins, Jaribu Hill, Cheri Honkala, Andy Huff, Catherine Powell, Loretta Ross, Cindy Soohoo,
Dorothy Q. Thomas, and Heidi Dorow, who also assisted tirelessly in the production of this guide.
The report’s title was inspired by the powerful vocal performance of Labi Siffre’s 1998 song “Something
Inside So Strong” by summit participant and cultural activist Jaribu Hill. Lyrics from “Something Inside
So Strong” (Labi Siffre) © 1996 by kind permission of Universal/Empire Music Limited. The report was
designed by Van Gennep Design; the cover image is by Stephanie Maze/CORBIS.

i i

T A B L E

O F

C O N T E N T S

Acknowledgments

ii

I.

Introduction

4

II.

Human Rights Abuses in the United States

8

A. Immigrants

9

B. American Indians

14

C. People Imprisoned

18

D. People on Death Row

22

E. The Poor

28

F. Discrimination

34

The U.S. Human Rights Movement

40

A. Human Rights Education

42

B. Human Rights Organizing

44

C. Human Rights Documentation

48

D. Creating Human Rights Policies

51

E. Using Human Rights Law

54

F. Human Rights Scholarship

60

IV.

Challenges, Needs and Priorities

62

VI.

Next Steps

65

VI.

Conclusion

67

III.

Appendix A: Howard Human Rights Summit Participants

68

Appendix B: Select International and Regional Human Rights Documents

76

Appendix C: Select Bibliography

77

Appendix D: A Note on Sources

78

I think it is necessary to
realize that we have moved
from the era of civil rights
to the era of human rights
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Section I:

4

I N T R O D U C T I O N
In the United States today:
■
The U.S. government is mandating the registration, detention and expulsion of immigrants often without a hearing or access to legal counsel;
■
The U.S. government takes the land and property of American Indians without due process of law and
without compensation;
■
State governments imprison and execute minorities at rates that are grossly disproportionate to their
presence in the overall population;
■
Incarceration rates are skyrocketing in state and federal prisons;
■
Thirty-three million people live in poverty;
■
More than seventy-four million people had no health insurance for some part of 2001 and 2002;
■
Discrimination continues to infect social, political and economic institutions.
These and other abuses persist in the United States and most are growing worse. Traditionally, U.S. activists
have attacked these problems using the laws, media and other means available to them domestically. Most
Americans know that they have certain rights that are enshrined in the Constitution and federal and state
laws. There is an increasing awareness, however, that these domestic protections are not enough. The
courts are increasingly conservative and hostile to civil and economic rights. Politicians seem only concerned with building the prison industrial complex and fail to address social, economic, and political conditions responsible for the overwhelming numbers of incarcerated individuals. Economists tell us that in a
free market system a certain level of poverty is necessary and desirable. The legal, economic and political
institutions available to activists to address enduring, structural inequities too often conform themselves,
like grass bending in the wind, to the prevailing societal obsessions of the day.
This Resource Guide offers activists an additional rights vision, framework and set of tools to use in
their struggles for justice in the United States. These are not meant to replace existing laws and strategies, but to bolster them and provide new avenues of activism. This framework and tools, rooted in the
concept of “human rights,” are not new. Their precursors are evident in the abolitionist movement,

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Photo provided by the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights

the suffragist movement, the labor movement, and the civil rights movement. In 1920, Marcus Garvey
submitted complaints to the League of Nations on behalf of the “Negro Peoples of the World.” In
1923, Deskaheh, a Chief of the Cayuga Nation and Speaker of the Haudensosaunee Six Nations
Confederacy made his case to the League of Nations for the right of his people to live according to
their own laws on their own lands. In 1947, the NAACP filed a petition with the United Nations
denouncing race discrimination in the United States. In 1951, W.E.B. DuBois submitted a petition to
the United Nations, entitled “We Charge Genocide,” protesting segregation and other aspects of Jim
Crow. In the late 1960’s Martin Luther King Junior argued that progress in the moral duty to fight
poverty required a reframing of the issue in international terms. And in 1966, the founding charter of
the National Organization for Women announced that it was “part of the worldwide revolution of
human rights now taking place within and beyond our national borders.”
What, then, is the human rights framework and how can it help leaders in their communities? The
modern western concept of human rights encompasses a vast array of civil, political, economic, social
and cultural rights. Some of these rights are acknowledged and protected in various federal and state
laws in the United States, although sometimes not to the same extent as they are under human rights
law. Many other human rights are altogether unrecognized and unprotected in the U.S. domestic legal
and political system, particularly in the economic rights arena. Human rights conceives of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as interdependent, transcending the current U.S. rights framework that often pits disadvantaged groups against one another. Applying a human rights framework
puts the power of rights back into the hands of the people who possess those rights, whether or not
they are recognized in domestic law.
The modern concept of human rights arose for the most part after World War II in response to the bloody
reality of state-sponsored genocide in Europe. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the
United Nations in 1948, identifies rights that belong to all human beings. These rights include the right to
equality; the right to be free from discrimination; the right to life, liberty and personal security; the right to be
free from torture and degrading treatment; the right to education; the right to be free from arbitrary arrest
and exile; the right to a fair public hearing; the right to own property and to an adequate standard of living;

5

the right to shelter and health care; the right to freedom of opinion and information; and many others. The
Declaration proclaims, “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”
Human rights have evolved since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include a
multitude of conventions, treaties and declarations. Some of the major human rights instruments created
through the United Nations and the Organization of American States include:
■
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
■
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
■
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
■
The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
■
The Convention Against Torture
■
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
■
Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Their Families
■
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man
There are also a number of regionally-specific laws and mechanisms, including for the Americas (see
Appendix B).

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As these international standards developed, so did a set of mechanisms, methods and strategies that
can be used for their enforcement. These mechanisms include treaty bodies, which monitor compliance with international human rights treaties. A basket of human rights methodologies, ranging from
human rights education, organizing and documentation, to policy, legal and scholarly work. Additional
strategies, including the use of cross-constituency work and international solidarity and scrutiny, are
now advancing domestic advocacy.

6

Although the human rights framework and the tools associated with it are broad in scope and relevant to the
many problems faced by people in the United States today, they remain unknown and underutilized. This obscurity is due in large part to a deliberate, long-standing effort by the federal government to deny the legitimacy of
human rights and, in particular, their application to situations internal to the United States. This denial of the
applicability of human rights to the domestic problems of the United States — which this Resource Guide refers
to as “U.S. exceptionalism” — has its roots in the effort to maintain racial segregation in the south during the
1950’s. Southern senators seeking to defend segregation, for example, successfully opposed ratification of
human rights treaties by the Eisenhower administration. This stance continues to manifest itself in the fact that
the Senate has ratified less than half the existing international human rights treaties, and no regional human
rights treaties. On those occasions when the Senate does ratify a treaty, it does so with reservations that can cripple its effective use in the U.S. legal system.
The policy of U.S. exceptionalism has resulted in a shameful record. The United States, and Somalia (which
is now in the process of moving towards ratification) are the only countries in the world that have not ratified
the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The United States is the only industrialized nation that has
refused to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW). The United States has not ratified the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(CESCR). The Senate has attached reservations to those human rights instruments that it has ratified to
undermine their effective use in U.S. courts. The United States has refused to endorse the International
Criminal Court; withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; walked out on the World Conference Against
Racism; and cast doubt on its adherence to the Geneva Conventions. The United States is one of only two
countries (with Iran) that continues to execute juvenile offenders.

Unfortunately, U.S. exceptionalism has largely been effective in preventing the application of the human
rights framework to situations in the United States. Not only has the U.S. government largely managed to
shield itself from human rights accountability, but the U.S. rights movement has generally relinquished any
human rights dimension to its advocacy. With this in mind, domestic activists met first in Mill Valley,
California in July 1999, and then at Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. in July 2002, to
assess, strengthen and expand the use of human rights in the United States. These activists came together
to challenge U.S. exceptionalism and to discuss strategies for the effective application of a human rights
approach to social justice work in the United States. They concluded with a landmark decision to found the
U.S. Human Right Network, the first national network focused on human rights in the United States whose
mission is discussed in Section V.

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This Resource Guide is the first publication of the U.S. Human Rights Network and will likely see subsequent editions as the U.S. human rights movement develops and additional resources are identified. It
draws in particular on discussions at the Howard meeting. Section II on human rights in the United States,
explores some of the major human rights violations faced by immigrants, American Indians, prisoners, prisoners on death row, the poor and those who suffer discrimination in the United States, and outlines how the
use of a human rights approach may be helpful in effectively combating these problems. Each issue-specific
subsection includes a list of resources that community activists may use to educate themselves about the
human rights tools available to them and how to use them.
Section III, on the U.S. human rights movement, is perhaps the most important for community activists: the
toolkit. It lays out the growing use of human rights in education, organizing, fact-finding, legal work, policy
advocacy, and scholarship in the United States and discusses the methods and strategies being used in this
work. It is designed to provide a rough guide to community activists in any issue area who may be interested
in using human rights in their U. S. advocacy. The Resource Guide concludes with a summary of challenges
and priorities common to U.S. human rights work and a commitment to several collaborative and issue or
method specific next steps.
Now more that ever it is important to use all the resources at our disposal to achieve just and inclusive
societies in the United States and elsewhere. On September 11, the entire world watched as terrorists seized
passenger planes and flew them into the World Trade towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington,
DC. The terrorist attacks – mind numbing in the enormity of their calculated violence – followed by three
days the conclusion of the controversy-riven U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
Soon thereafter anthrax shut down the U.S. Capitol, the Taliban regime of Afghanistan collapsed under
American military strikes, the globalized economy descended into recession, and the U.S. federal government forcibly detained some 1,200 immigrants and initiated the most sweeping rollback of civil liberties
since the McCarthy era. Since September 11, 2001 we have been forced to confront the instability and capriciousness of seemingly enduring human institutions — entire governments, economies and political systems have been radically changed in an overall context of global inequality and U.S. unilateralism.
To the participants in the Howard Summit, and we hope to the users of this guide, the importance of adhering to universal human rights, which hold the promise of stability and integrity, has never been clearer. This
is no less true in the United States than it is in any other country of the world. In fact, as the United States
indulges an increasingly unilateralist bent in both domestic and foreign policy, the cost to rights at home and
abroad is increasing. As a result, a growing number of U.S. activists from a wide array of issue areas and
methods of work have pledged to combat U.S. exceptionalism and create instead a movement for human
rights in the United States. We see this Resource Guide as a starter kit for that movement. We hope you
find it useful.
7

How is the black man
going to get “civil rights”
before he first wins his
human rights?
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

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Section II:

8

H U M A N

R I G H T S

A B U S E S

I N

T H E

U N I T E D

S T A T E S

Human rights abuses occur in the United States. These abuses occur in cities and rural areas, in our
schools, in our homes, in prisons and in courts. Human rights violations are a U.S. problem, not merely a
problem of other countries. When civil rights are violated, human rights are violated – only the terminology
and legal relief differs. Human rights law, however, offers a broader array of rights protections than does
domestic U.S. law. A human rights approach also offers new tools to strengthen domestic advocacy in
terms of framework, method and strategy.
This section explores some of the abuses suffered in the United States, focusing in particular on immigrants,
American Indians, people who are imprisoned, people who are on death row, the poor, and those who face
various, and often simultaneous, manifestations of discrimination. A complete discussion of each of these
and other issue areas is not possible. It is possible, however, to provide a snapshot of these six issues and
to demonstrate how the human rights approach with its legal framework, mechanisms, methods and strategies might be useful for activists in the United States, especially in those cases where domestic laws are ineffective or existing approaches inadequate.
Each of the following sub-sections briefly reviews the violations at issue, outlines some current human rights
work in that area and sketches some recommended strategies. Key human rights resources available to
activists to both educate themselves and take action are also provided. A list of the human rights treaties
that are most applicable to each issue appears in Appendix B.

Photo provided by the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights

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IMMIGRANTS
Since September 11, 2001, immigrant communities have faced mounting xenophobia and discrimination.
Immigrants who are not U.S. citizens are particularly vulnerable because their status is often exploited to
deny them the protections they would otherwise have under the Constitution. Immigrants of whatever status often suffer the most in times of national crisis as the focus of suspicion and hatred and are desperately
in need of strong legal rights. Almost immediately after the terrorist attacks, a wave of hate violence swept
the United States targeting immigrants for “retaliation.” Congressional and presidential policies have reinforced the hostile atmosphere, portraying immigrants as a threat to national security and adopting policies
that greatly increase the likelihood of discrimination and harassment. Refugees and asylum seekers have
also been affected by xenophobic policy. After September 11, the Immigration and Naturalization Service
(now known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and located in the Department of
Homeland Security) enacted harsher policies of detention, reduced judicial review for individual asylum
cases, and further restricted the number of refugees allowed entry in the United States.
Facts about the human rights of immigrants and refugees since September 11, 2001 include:
■
The detention of roughly 1,200 immigrants by the U.S. federal government after September 11, 2001.
Most of these people were never charged with a crime or activities related to terrorism, although many
were deported or are still in custody. Often, immigrants are not informed of their rights once in federal
custody and frequently go through deportation hearings without the assistance of legal counsel.
■
New Immigration and Naturalization Service and Department of Justice requirements that all men over
the age of 16 from Muslim countries as well as North Korea and Eritrea, register at INS offices or be
deported. Reports indicate that hundreds of boys and men who voluntarily registered have been arrested and detained.
■
Immigration hearings, when they occur, can be held secretly at the direction of the federal government.
The secrecy of these hearings, which can result in the forced, permanent separation of families, removes
a necessary bulwark against the arbitrary violation of the human rights of immigrants.

9

Relevant Human Rights Treaties
The Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
(“Migrant Rights Convention”) was adopted by the U.N.General Assembly in 1990, and passed into
force on July 1, 2003. The U.N. Migrant Rights Convention provides a set of binding international
standards to address the treatment, welfare and human rights of both documented and undocumented migrants. Overall, the Convention seeks to play a role in preventing and eliminating the exploitation
of all migrant workers and members of their families throughout the entire migration process. In particular it seeks to put an end to the illegal or clandestine recruitment and trafficking of migrant workers
and to discourage the employment of migrant workers in an irregular or undocumented situation.
Finally, the Convention establishes mechanisms for its implementation which provide new opportunities for increased participation from the global community to protect the rights of migrants. Here are
some provisions of the Migrant Rights Convention:
■
Article 7: Protects migrants from discrimination or distinction of any kind on the basis of sex,
race, color, language, religion, or convictions, political or other opinion, national, ethnic, or social
origin, nationality, age, economic position or other status
■
Article 8: Gives migrants the freedom to leave any country, including the home country, and the
right to re-enter the home country at any time
■
Article 44: Protects the right to family reunification and the protection of appropriate measures to
ensure the protection and unity of one’s family

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Why Human Rights

1 0

The use of a human rights framework is an excellent fit for immigrant and refugee communities for several
reasons. First, non-citizen immigrants and refugees are frequently denied basic civil rights enjoyed by U.S.
citizens, including the right to due process and representation, while also contending with the added penalties
of harsh immigration law. A human rights framework, which supports the rights of all people, regardless of
immigration status or citizenship, thus provides a more comprehensive and supportive vision of immigrant
and refugee rights. Next, broad international consensus on the issue of human rights speaks clearly to the
interests of migrants and refugees, whose experiences transcend particular national frameworks. Immigrants
and refugees also bring to U.S. advocacy knowledge and expertise in using a human rights framework in
social justice organizing, drawing on human rights traditions that grow deep in other countries.

Current Human Rights Work
Today, immigrant and refugee communities continue a long history of organizing for the human rights
of migrants at the local, national, and international level. Local community organizations have directly
supported the human rights of immigrants and refugees in many ways, including through service provision, organizing, and advocacy work. In particular, “know your human rights” community education initiatives to document human rights abuses, and the growing use of human rights language in framing
campaigns and media work highlight the ways that communities have directly employed a human rights
framework in their work. The fight for the human rights of immigrants and refugees also continues to
thrive at the international level. In 2001, US-based immigrant and refugee community leaders and
organizers participated in the U.N. World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) and Xenophobia, where
over 70 migrant and refugee rights organizations formed the Migrant and Refugee Caucus. Through its
work, the Caucus ensured the inclusion in the final conference document of over forty-five paragraphs
that referenced migrants, refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum seekers. It is the most comprehensive treatment of the human rights of migrants and refugees in any United Nations’ conference
document and sets the stage for on-going international advocacy in this area, including via world-wide
celebrations of International Migrants Day, celebrated each year on December 18th.

Suggested Advocacy Strategies
The victory at WCAR was stupendous. The U.S. policy of exceptionalism, however, means that immigrant
and refugee rights activists will have to be creative in bringing the standards set forth in this and other
human rights instruments home to their communities, particularly in a post-9/11 environment. The United
States has not ratified the U.N. Migrants Rights Convention, but there are concrete strategies for using
human rights tools in local immigration struggles, even in the face of U.S. exceptionalism, including:
■
Educating and organizing immigrant and refugee communities to defend their human rights;
■
Holding community human rights tribunals and forums to gather personal testimony from immigrants for the purpose of demonstrating the human cost of U.S. anti-immigration policies and
laws;
■
Participating in international campaigns for the human rights of migrants, including by holding
events to celebrate December 18, International Migrants Day;
■
Organizing campaigns for the passage of resolutions by local governments in support of local
immigrant communities to prevent xenophobic and discriminatory acts against those communities consistent with the rights and protections found in human rights law;
■
Sending reports and documentation of human rights abuses to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on
the Human Rights of Migrants;
■
Bringing individual complaints before the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, after domestic remedies have been exhausted; and
■
Filing shadow reports with the U.N. committee overseeing the Convention on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination (CERD) documenting violations of CERD.

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A C A S E I N P O I N T: B O R D E R N E T W O R K F O R H U M A N R I G H T S
The Border Network for Human Rights (formerly the Border Rights Coalition) was established in 1987 to engage
local communities along the Mexico-U.S. border to challenge abuses of authority, including violence and other
violations of human and civil rights, in the enforcement of immigration law. The Network’s work is concentrated
in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. Its objectives are (1) to strengthen the capacity of border communities
to participate in decisions relating to border control policies and practices; (2) to increase public support for
building a non-abusive, demilitarized environment on the border; and (3) to seek changes in key policies that foster abuse, human suffering, and a militarized border.
The Network trains local community members to become human rights educators and promoters by learning their
rights, documenting human rights abuses and by organizing communities along the border. The Project had its
first large, human rights training program in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1999. Participants are educated about
their own human rights, what do if their rights are being violated and how to file a human rights abuse report.
They are also shown how to train and organize others in their communities to become knowledgeable and active
in defense of their rights. The Network provides community members with the necessary educational material to
train others and to document abuses. The Network uses this documentation process to mobilize local communities and to exert pressure on local and federal authorities to abide by national and international human rights standards. For more information contact: Border Network for Human Rights, 611 Kansas St., El Paso, TX 79901, telephone: (915) 577-0724.

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Resources

IMMIGRANTS

GENERAL:
▼

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▼

1 2

▼

▼

A World On the Move: A Report from the 2001 UN
World Conference Against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, A
Resource Guide on International Migrant Rights. A
World On the Move presents a comprehensive look at
the outcomes, lessons, and successes for immigrant
and refugee rights from the 2001 UN World Conference
Against Racism and Xenophobia. The report includes
testimonies of participants in the Immigrant Rights
Working Group, and tips on preparing for international
conferences, and practical guides on connecting local
issues with international human rights campaigns and
systems. To order, visit www.nnirr.org. Price: $7 + $3
shipping/handling, U.S. currency please. National
Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 310 8th St.
Suite 303, Oakland, CA 94607.
Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Migrant
Workers: A UN Road Map—A Guide for Asian NGOs
to the International Human Rights System and Other
Mechanisms. This comprehensive guide provides specific information for migrant rights non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) to access and utilize current
international structures, including the U.N.,
International Labour Organization (ILO) and
International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Published by the Asian Migrant Center, the Asia Pacific
Forum on Women, Law, and Development, the Ateneo
Human Rights Center, and the Canadian Human
Rights Foundation. Available free by download at
www.chrf.ca.
The Denial of Due Process to Asylum Seekers in the
U.S., October 2000, Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights. Examines the impact of expedited removal of
refugees seeking asylum in the United States based on
1996 changes to U.S. immigration laws. Report can be
read on-line at www.lchr.org/refugees/reports/due_
process.htm. The Lawyers Committee can be reached
in New York City at (212) 845-5200, in D.C. at (202)
547-5692, or in California at (510) 452-8400.
A Year of Loss: Re-examining Civil Liberties Since
September 11th, September 2002, The Lawyers Committee
for Human Rights, www.lchr.org/pubs/pubs.asp#law.

▼

Imbalance of Power: How changes to U.S. law and
security since 9/11 erode human rights and civil liberties, March 2003, The Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights, www.lchr.org/pubs/pubs.asp#law.

▼

We Are Not the Enemy: hate crimes against Arabs,
Muslims, and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim after
September 11th, November 2002, Human Rights Watch.
A 41-page report examining hate crimes which have
occurred in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist
attacks. Available on-line at www.hrw.org/reports/world/
usdom-pubs.php. Human Rights Watch can be reached
at 350 5th Ave, 34th floor, New York, NY 10118. They can
be reached by phone at (212) 290-4700 in New York and
at (202) 612-4300 in Washington, DC.

▼

The September 11 Detainees: A Review of the
Treatment of Aliens Held on Immigration Charges in
Connection with the Investigation of the September 11
Attacks, June 2003, Office of the Inspector General for
the Department of Justice. Available on-line at
www.usdoj.gov/oig/igspecr1.htm.

▼

International Legal Norms and Immigration: An
Analysis, International Organization for Migration,
Migration Policy and Research Programme, 17 route
des Morillons, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland, 41 22
717 91 11, hq@IOM.int.

▼

America’s Challenge: Domestic Security, Civil
Liberties, and National Unity After September 11,
June 2003, a report of the Migration Policy Institute,
1400 16th St., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC
20036, (202) 266-1940. The report can be ordered
on-line at www.migrationpolicy.org.

F O R S A M P L E E D U C AT I O N A N D O R G A N I Z I N G
TOOLS SEE:
▼

BRIDGE: Building A Race and Immigration Dialogue in
the Global Era—a curriculum project of the National
Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (forthcoming 2003). This curriculum features popular education
workshop modules geared towards community organizers on the subjects of immigration, race, globalization, human rights, gender, LGBT issues, and more.
Contact NNIRR at 310 8th St. Suite 303, Oakland, CA
94607, call 510-465-1984 x 303, or visit www.nnirr.org.

Resources

IMMIGRANTS

▼

Abuse Documentation Reference Manual, a community-oriented training manual for documenting
human rights abuse. Created by Casa Projecto
Libertad and the Immigration Law Enforcement
Monitoring Project. Available from the Border
Network for Human Rights, 611 Kansas, El Paso,
Texas 79901. Telephone: 915-577-0724.

▼

Manual para Promotores de Derechos: a Training
Manual (in Spanish) for Community-Based Human
Rights Organizing, available from the Border
Network for Human Rights, 611 Kansas, El Paso,
Texas 79901. Telephone: 915-577-0724 or from
Movimiento del Valle Por Los Derechos Humanos,
113 N. 1st., Harlingen, TX 78550, cellphone 956-4259552, email: selzernj@hnshmail.com.

tionary measure’ from the Commission regarding
Muslin men of Arab and South Asian origin who continue to be in the custody of the Immigration and
Naturalization Service following the adjudication of
immigration charges against them, despite being willing
to voluntarily leave. For updates on these requests to
the Inter-American Commission see the CCR website,
www.ccr-ny.org. You can also contact CCR at (212) 6146464, 666 Broadway, 7th floor, New York, NY 10012 or
info@ccr-ny.org. Precautionary measures were issued
by the Inter-American Commission in September 2002
and can be found on the International Human Rights
Law Group website at www.hrlawgroup.org/resources/
content/IACHR_Award.pdf.
▼

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights, on occasion, will also ask for input from non-governmental
organizations if a nation requests an advisory opinion in
a particular case. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court
issued its decision in the Hoffman Plastic Compounds v.
NLRB, holding that undocumented workers fired for
organizing are not entitled to back pay. The government
of Mexico filed a request for an advisory opinion with the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.
Several groups in the United States filed or endorsed
amicus curiae briefs, including the National Employment
Law Project (NELP), the National Immigration Law
Center, and the Immigration Project and Labor
Employment Committees of the National Lawyers’
Guild, as well as some 50 other labor, civil rights, and
immigrant groups. NELP’s brief argues that discrimination prohibitions in international law are violated by the
Supreme Court’s ruling, and that the United States justification for discrimination against the undocumented
cannot be justified as based on reasonable and objective
criteria, and is not proportional under international law.
For information on this case visit website: www.nelp.org.

▼

Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional

FOR SAMPLES OF LOCAL CAMPAIGNS
P R O T E S T I N G P O L I C E / I M M I G R AT I O N A N D
N AT U R A L I Z AT I O N S E R V I C E P R A C T I C E S :

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

▼

Hate Free Zone, visit their website to find information
about local organizing efforts, www.hatefreezone.org,
(866) 439-6631.

FOR A SAMPLE HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINT
REGARDING IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS IN U.S.
COURTS SEE:
▼

JAMA v. United States, 22 F. Supp. 2nd 353. JAMA v.
United States is litigation brought on behalf of immigrants in detention challenging the conditions of their
confinement in Immigration and Naturalization
Services facilities in New Jersey. The case uses the
Alien Tort Claims Act as a basis for alleging that the
conditions of confinement violate international standards which prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment.
This case can be found at the Human Rights Online
Library at: www.probono.net/humanrights/.

F O R S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O M P L A I N T S
REGARDING IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS SEE:
▼

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recognizes the right of Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGO’s) to file requests for ‘precautionary measures’ on
behalf of individuals without first requiring exhaustion of
domestic legal remedies. The Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR), the International Human Rights Law
Group, and other human rights organizations have used
this mechanism to request the issuance of a ‘precau-

Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, by David Cole, New
Press, NY 2003.

NOTE: More general human rights resources can be found
in section III on the U.S. human rights movement.

1 3

Indian peoples in the United
States still live under the
threat of having their lands
taken, of being poisoned or
killed by the toxic contamination of their resources.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

AMERICAN INDIANS

1 4

Indian peoples in the United States still live under the threat of having their lands taken, of being poisoned
or killed by the toxic contamination of their resources, and of being deprived of their languages and traditions. American Indians suffer the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the country and the lowest
education level. These problems are largely the result of a continuing effort to assimilate the Indian tribes
and cultures of the United States. The most fundamental right sought by American Indians is the right to
remain indigenous. This right is a collective right, which includes being a member of a unique culture and
speaking a unique language; worshiping in a traditional manner; maintaining control over traditional territories; and being able to govern the affairs of the people. The full exercise of these aspects of the right to
remain indigenous can be called “sovereignty.” American history is replete with failed experiments to
destroy Indian sovereignty by removing, killing or assimilating the indigenous peoples of this continent.
These experiments continue to impede the right of American Indians to determine for themselves the future
of their peoples.
Facts about the human rights of American Indians in the United Stated include:
■
The taking of Indian lands by the federal government without due process or compensation in order to
accelerate the assimilation of tribes through the elimination of their land base.
■
The federally approved destruction of Indian sacred sites critical to Indian cultural life.
■
The federally approved destruction and contamination of natural resources that Indians depend upon
for food and water.
■
High rates of poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing and health problems due largely to federal
mismanagement of Indian resources.
■
Continuing judicial attacks on the right of Indian governments to manage their own territories and
peoples.

Photo provided by the Indian Law Resource Center

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Relevant Human Rights Treaties
Convention No. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries is the only international treaty having indigenous peoples as its sole subject. The International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, adopted Convention No. 169 in 1989. The Convention contains general
protections for indigenous lands, as well as measures to improve the health, education and employment of
indigenous peoples. The United States has not ratified this Convention. Both the United Nations and the
Organization of American States (OAS,) however, are nearing the completion of declarations on the rights of
indigenous peoples. Once adopted, these declarations will form the standards to which all national governments are expected to conform in their treatment of the indigenous peoples within their borders. For more
information on these declarations, see Appendix B.

Current Human Rights Work
Indian nations in the United States are using human rights to protect their communities in a variety of ways.
The United Nations has recently established a “Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.” The Permanent
Forum, which is the only body in the United Nations that has permanent seats for indigenous peoples, functions as an open forum through which indigenous peoples may bring the abuses they suffer to the attention
of the world community. Indian nations in the United States have long presented information to the United
Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and have been actively participating in the drafting of
the both the United Nations draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the draft American
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Finally, Indian nations are increasingly using the United
Nations Human Rights Committee, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as international investigatory bodies
that are not constrained by the discriminatory legal doctrines that undermine Indian rights in the United
States. These committees have issued reports and made observations harshly critical of the laws and policies of the United States in regards to Indian peoples.

1 5

Suggested Advocacy Strategies
Ideas for the use of a human rights approach in domestic advocacy regarding Indian peoples include:
■
Teaching indigenous communities about human rights, emphasizing applicability to the struggles of
indigenous peoples for self-determination and collective rights;
■
Bringing complaints for international investigation and scrutiny before the U.N. Human Rights
Committee, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or the O.A.S. InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights; and
■
Participating in the international campaign for the adoption of declarations in the U.N. and the O.A.S.
that will protect indigenous rights.

A C A S E I N P O I N T: T H E W E S T E R N S H O S H O N E
Since 1974, the Dann Band of the Western Shoshone has fought the United States over the right to graze cattle on
lands that were guaranteed to the Western Shoshone by an 1863 treaty. These lands have never been ceded by the
Western Shoshone to the federal government. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) insists that the lands are federal public lands and that the Danns must pay grazing fees and apply for permits. The Danns are also fighting against
the contamination of their groundwater and environmental degradation caused by massive gold mining operations
which are located throughout Western Shoshone lands pursuant to federal permits.
The Indian Law Resource Center filed a petition on the Dann’s behalf with the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (IACHR) challenging the discriminatory laws cited by the United States to claim that it had legally extinguished
Western Shoshone land title. The Commission released its final report on the petition in December 2002, Report No.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

75/02, Case No. 11.140, Mary and Carrie Dann v. United States, Organization of American States, Inter-American

1 6

Commission on Human Rights, December 27, 2002 (available at www.indianlaw.org ). This report finds that the methods used by the United States federal government to “extinguish” the land title of the Western Shoshone of Nevada violated basic international human rights norms and recommends that the United States take steps to provide the
Western Shoshone with a remedy that recognizes Western Shoshone land rights under international law.
The United States has publicly stated that it rejects the IACHR report regarding the Western Shoshone. The BLM has
since confiscated hundreds of Western Shoshone cattle on Western Shoshone land using armed federal agents.
Although the actions of the BLM indicate disdain for the rights of Indian peoples and a total disregard for the decisions
of an international human rights commission, the IACHR report is having a positive effect. Congressional proposals to
make final the extinguishment of Western Shoshone land rights have been put on hold, and the national media is
beginning to report on the human rights aspect of the story. For more information contact: Western Shoshone
Defense Project, P.O. Box 211308, Crescent Valley, NV 89821, (775) 468-0230, www.wsdp.org or the Indian Law
Resource Center, 602 North Ewing St., Helena, MT 59601, (406) 449-2006, www.indianlaw.org.

Resources

AMERICAN

INDIANS

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

GENERAL
▼

Guide for Indigenous Peoples, United Nations, Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, available in printed format and online at www.unhchr.ch.

▼

A Guide to Indigenous Peoples Rights in the InterAmerican Human Rights System, International
Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen
2002. To order, go to www.iwgia.org.

▼

The Human Rights Situation of Indigenous People in
the Americas, Organization of American States, InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, 2000,
www.iachr.org.

▼

Authorities and Precedents in International and
Domestic Law for the Proposed American Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Organization of
American States, Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights, www.iachr.org.

▼

International Human Rights Mechanisms to Promote
and Protect the Rights of Indian Nations and Tribes in
the United States: An Overview, Robert T. Coulter,
March 1, 2002, Indian Law Resource Center, www.indianlaw.org.

▼

A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in
Indian Country, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. July
2003. Available at www.usccr.gov.

F O R S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O M P L A I N T S
REGARDING AMERICAN INDIANS SEE:
▼

Mary and Carrie Dann v. United States, Report No.
75/02, Case 11.140, Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights, December 27, 2002. Available at
www.indianlaw.org.

NOTE: More general human rights resources can be found
in section III.

1 7

People who are imprisoned
are subjected to violence and
sexual assault; to overcrowded,
unsanitary and inhumane
conditions and to discriminatory disciplinary policies.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

PEOPLE WHO ARE IMPRISONED

1 8

Incarceration is a source of gross human rights abuse in the United States. People who are imprisoned are
subjected to violence and sexual assault; to overcrowded, unsanitary and inhumane conditions and to random, retaliatory and discriminatory disciplinary policies. They are exposed to diseases, including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, which often go untreated and result in death; women in prison are subject to
custodial sexual abuse by guards; and prisoners with mental illnesses frequently go untreated. “Law and
order” rhetoric is used not only to justify locking people up at alarming rates, but also to avoid addressing
the structural causes of poverty and criminal behavior. The contemporary prison-industrial complex merges
criminal punishment with corporate profits in both public and private prisons. Families and communities
that are disproportionately poor and of color suffer the costs of criminalization and incarceration without the
resources needed to prevent criminal behavior or help former inmates successfully re-enter society. Little or
no credence is given to the fact that current and former inmates have basic human rights that are not forfeited by being imprisoned.
Facts regarding the human rights of incarcerated people in the United States include:
■
Two million people – about one in every 147 Americans – are imprisoned in the United States. The
United States leads the world in the sheer reported number of people it has behind bars, far outpacing
both China (1.2 million) and Russia (1 million).
■
About one-half of the people incarcerated in the United States are African American. One of every fourteen African American males is in prison. One in every four African American males will, at current
incarceration rates, spend time behind bars.
■
63% of the total adult prison population is Latino and African American, while these two groups comprise only 25% of the overall U.S. population.
■
3.9 million Americans – one in every 50 adults — are disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.
■
The construction of private prisons is booming and prison populations continue to rise due largely to
mandatory minimum drug sentencing.
■
1.5 million minor children have a parent in prison.

Photo by Kent Knudson/Getty Images

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Relevant Human Rights Treaties
The human rights abuses suffered by people in U.S. prisons violate multiple provisions in the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR,) on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Racial
Discrimination (CERD,) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (CAT). The ICCPR, CAT, and CERD have been ratified by the United States government.
Article 7 of the ICCPR prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 10 of the ICCPR requires that persons deprived of their liberty be treated with humanity and with
respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. Article 10 also provides that incarceration shall be for
the purpose of reformation and social rehabilitation.
Article 16 of the CAT obligates nations to “prevent . . . acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment . . . when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of
a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”
Article 5 of the CERD obligates nations to “undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all
its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinctions to race, colour, or national or ethnic
origin, to equality before the law…” including the “right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other
organs administering justice…” For more information about these treaties see Appendix B.

Current Human Rights Work
Current human rights work related to incarceration in the United States encompasses a wide range of
issues including sentencing reform, disparate treatment, conditions of incarceration and re-entry. U.S.
based international human rights organizations have conducted numerous investigations exposing
everything from racial disparities in the sentencing of drug offenders, to sexual abuse in prison, to con1 9

ditions in so-called "maxi-maxi" prison facilities, to the impact of incarceration on children, both in and
out of custody. Community-based activists have used human rights to organize affected communities
to oppose over incarceration and to document the exploitation of incarcerated persons by, for example,
private corporate entities that provide services to or obtain employees from the prison system. In
recent years attention has also been directed to the collateral consequences of incarceration including
felony disenfranchisement and the lifetime ban on welfare and other public benefits that often follows
from a felony drug conviction.

Suggested Advocacy Strategies
Ideas for human rights advocacy related to incarceration include:
■
Organizing with formerly incarcerated persons to highlight prison human rights abuse and advocate for
just and humane re-entry policies;
■
Human rights documentation of prison abuses, with careful attention to the possibility of retaliation;
■
Domestic litigation using human rights to help interpret U.S. law and educate judges. For example, the
standard for determining what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment to
the Constitution requires courts to consider whether a particular punishment violates “evolving standards of decency,” which clearly include international rights standards; and
■
Submission of information to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the U.N. Committee Against Torture,
or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for investigation.

A C A S E I N P O I N T: R I G H T S N O W

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Rights Now is a public education effort that uses popular culture, video and news media to teach young people (ages

2 0

15-25) that social justice issues in the United States are part of the global campaign for human rights. Rights Now is a
collaborative effort amongst artists, activists, educators, and lawyers coordinated by the Human Rights Institute at
Columbia University Law School, WITNESS, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The first project of this effort
is “Books Not Bars.” This effort includes an educational video and grassroots, youth-led campaign dedicated to reversing the growth of the prison industrial complex in the United States. The campaign highlights domestic criminal policies that violate international human rights standards for the treatment of juveniles. For more information contact: The
Human Rights Institute, Columbia University Law School, 435 W. 116th St., B-28, New York, NY 10027. Telephone:
(212) 854-0706.

Resources

PEOPLE

WHO

ARE

IMPRISONED

GENERAL:
▼

▼

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

▼

▼

Every Door Closed: Barriers facing Parents with
Criminal Records (2002) Describes the way in which
people with criminal records are excluded by law
from certain forms of employment, welfare, subsidized housing, student loans, and the effect of the
criminal records on immigrants and persons in the
child welfare system. Report available from
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.
http://www.clasp.org/Pubs/DMS/Documents/1022
677412.0/doc_Every_Door_Closed.pdf
Making Standards Work: an international handbook on
good prison practice, (2001) A manual to assist prison
officials in implementing international instruments on
prison conditions. Available from Penal Reform
International, www.penalreform.org/english/MSW.pdf.
All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S.
State Prisons, 1996, Human Rights Watch. The
report documents sexual abuse of women in U.S.
state prisons. The report highlights the main factor
contributing to this sexual abuse is that the United
States, in violation of international norms, allows
male officers to guard female prisoners during
almost all prison activities. Available on-line at
www.hrw.org/reports/1996/Us1.htm.
Not Part of my Sentence: Violations of the Human
Rights of Women in Custody, 1999, Amnesty
International. This report describes violations of
the internationally guaranteed human rights of
women incarcerated in the United States. These
violations include: rape, sexual abuse, isolation, and
shackling of pregnant women. Available on-line at
www.amnestyusa.org/rightsforall/women/report.

▼

Campaign to Restore Voting Rights, for more information contact Robin Templeton, National Director, 120
Wooster St., New York, NY 10012, (212) 965-0400, or
at rtemp@igc.org.

▼

Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization
that fights to end the prison industrial complex. Critical
Resistance has local chapters throughout the country and
a variety of different resources available on their website.
For more information contact: Critical Resistance,
National Office, 1904 Franklin St., Suite 504, Oakland, CA
94612, (510) 444-0484, www.criticalresistance.org.

▼

Justice Now

Justice Now works with women prisoners and local
communities to build a world without prisons. 1322
Webster St., Suite 210, Oakland, CA 94612, (510)
839-7654, www.jnow.org.
FOR SAMPLE HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINTS
R E G A R D I N G I N C A R C E R AT E D P E R S O N S I N
U.S. COURTS SEE:
▼

Cox v. Livingston County 00 71310 USDC ED MI
Federal class action litigation, brought by the
Michigan ACLU and cooperating attorney Deborah
LaBelle , alleging that the state and countries’ treatment of women inmates in the Livingston County Jail
in Michigan violates jail inmates’ rights protected by
customary international law, treaties and conventions.
This case will be available in the Human Rights Online
Library at www.probono.net/humanrights

▼

Children and Family Justice Center, The Center has
filed an amicus brief on human rights and sentences
of life without parole in the case of the Illinois v. Leon
Miller. For more information contact: Children and
Family Justice Center, Northwestern University School
of Law, 357 East Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, (312)
503-0396, www.law.northwestern.edu.

F O R S A M P L E E D U C AT I O N A L A N D
ORGANIZING TOOLS SEE:
▼

▼

Books Not Bars video-an educational video for young
people about using a human rights framework to challenge US criminal justice policies. The video was produced by the Human Rights Institute at Columbia
University and WITNESS. Available from the Ella Baker
Center for Human Rights, 1230 Market St., PMB #409,
San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 951-4844, www.books
notbars.org, www.ellabakercenter.org.
Prison Activist Resource Center-a source for progressive and radical information on prisons and the criminal prosecution system. The Center’s website has
information about organizing campaigns, statistics,
and educational resources. Visit their website at
www.prisonactivist.org.

F O R S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O M P L A I N T S
R E G A R D I N G I N C A R C E R AT E D P E R S O N S :
▼

Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against
Women, its Causes and Consequences, Report of
the mission to the United States of America on the
issue of violence against women in state and federal
prisons, (January 4, 1999), E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.2,
Radhika Coomaraswany, report is available on the
United Nations human rights commissioner’s website at: www.unhchr.ch. Search website’s charterbased bodies database by key word “violence against
women” or general search by document number.

NOTE: More general human rights resources can be found
in section III.

2 1

The United States has in
recent decades dramatically
accelerated the rate at
which it is executing people.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

P E O P LE W H O A R E O N D E AT H R O W

2 2

Deprivation of life is the most extreme of human rights abuses. The world community is moving
steadily away from the imposition of the death penalty. Many countries have abolished the death
penalty entirely or severely curtailed its use. The United States, however, has in recent decades dramatically accelerated the rate at which it is executing people. Since 1976, 873 people have been put to
death, primarily by state governments. As DNA technology improves, it becomes increasingly clear
that innocent people have been and will continue to be executed. One hundred and eight people have
been exonerated and released from death row since 1973. At least 23 innocent people have been executed this century. It is also clear that the death penalty is imposed in a random manner from state to
state. Further, statistics show that the death penalty has no deterrent value.
Facts about human rights and the death penalty in the United States include:
■
At present, only two countries in the world – the United States and Iran – are sentencing persons
to death for crimes they committed as children.
■
90% of the people for whom the United States government seeks the death penalty are racial
minorities.
■
Over 300 people on death row in the United States are known to be mentally retarded.

Relevant Human Rights Treaties
The death penalty and the manner in which it is implemented in the United States violates several
international treaties, most specifically the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits the death penalty. The U.S. government has not signed the
Second Optional Protocol, although it appears the tide may be slowly turning against the death penalty
in the United States. Reason for optimism exists in the Supreme Court’s gradual recognition of the
human rights implications in the administration of the death penalty. In striking down the death
penalty with respect to a person with mental retardation, in Atkins v.Virginia for example, in June 2002,
the Court noted an amicus brief asserting that U.S. practice was out of sync with that of the rest of the
global community. In August 2003, the Supreme Court of Missouri ruled the death penalty unconstitu-

Photo provided by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

tional with respect to its application against juveniles. The Court cites the U.N. Convention on the
Rights of the Child in its analysis of the growing trend in the international community against juvenile
executions. For more information, see resource section, pg. 25.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Current Human Rights Work
Currently, anti-death penalty advocates in the United States are working on a variety of fronts to end
state-sponsored executions. After more than two decades of organizing to end capital punishment,
advocates are beginning to see the tangible results. In the last several years, hundreds of death penalty
related bills have been introduced in state legislatures, including proposed legislation that would ban
executions of those who were juveniles at the time of their offense, moratoriums, death penalty studies, mandatory DNA evaluation of crime scene evidence, and minimum standards for capital defense.
Activists and advocates are an integral part of pushing this proposed legislation forward.
In addition to legislative action, U.S. anti-death penalty activists continue to engage in direct action
such as marches, rallies, and vigils to draw attention to condemned prisoners awaiting execution on
death rows throughout the country. Activists have also initiated a national campaign to end juvenile
executions. This campaign includes large national and international organizations like the National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Amnesty International, as well as local organizations such
as the Kentucky and Texas Coalitions to Abolish the Death Penalty. This work also has an international
dimension. International connections are emerging between anti-death penalty organizations in the
United States and Japan, for example. As a result of these collaborations the Council of Europe passed
a resolution requiring both countries to show “substantial” movement away from using the death
penalty or risk the loss of their observer status at the Council.

2 3

Suggested Advocacy Strategies
Strategies to strengthen the use of human rights norms in combating the death penalty include:
■
Forging strong alliances with activists working at different levels and in different issues areas in
order to overcome the lack of knowledge regarding human rights and to bring pressure to bear on
states still executing people;
■
Introducing human rights standards early and often into death penalty proceedings, emphasizing
that “evolving standards of decency” include a worldwide movement away from the death penalty;
■
Exploring alternative tactics including greater use of non-violent civil disobedience and economic
pressure related to international investment in death penalty states;
■
Using the media to better advance the abolitionist message; and
■
Using international forums such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the
International Court of Justice to protest United States’ use of the death penalty.

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A C A S E I N P O I N T: T H E D E A T H P E N A LT Y

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Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in the mid-1970’s, the modern anti-death penalty movement has
identified capital punishment as a violation of human rights and has used international standards as a cornerstone of its efforts to end the death penalty in the United States. Over the last two decades, as U.S. death penalty practices have worsened, the international community has become increasingly abolitionist. Opposition to the
death penalty is clearly articulated in a number of important international treaties and by various international
human rights bodies (see appendix B). The unity of opposition to the death penalty among European countries
in particular, serves as important touchstone for those in the United States committed to complete abolition.
U.S. anti-death penalty advocates often rely on human rights standards for legislative, organizing, and education
efforts. U.S. advocates use these human rights standards in part due to an absence of remedies within the U.S.
court system and because there is an overwhelming perception of the death penalty as a human rights violation
by the international community.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s anti-death penalty advocates from the United States have utilized international pressure and human rights standards to advance activism in this country. Some of these activities have
included meeting with United Nations Special Rapporteurs, writing ‘shadow reports’ to the Committee for the
Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination, meeting with members of the European Union, European
Parliament, the International Committee of Jurists, and filing petitions with the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights. Reports and observations of these international bodies have all been critical of the death penalty
in the United States.
The U.S. anti-death penalty movement uses human rights standards strategically. The invocation of human
rights standards aims to highlight how isolated and out-of-step with global opinion U.S. death penalty policies
remain, in spite of the growing international consensus against the use of capital punishment. In 2002, antideath penalty advocates in Indiana led a successful effort to pass legislation banning the execution of juvenile
offenders. The legislation’s primary sponsor repeatedly highlighted that the United States was one of only a few
countries known to execute juvenile offenders and that the U.S. government banned the practice for federal
offenses. For information about this campaign contact the Indiana Citizens to Abolish Capital Punishment at
www.icadp.org.

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National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is a
network of organizations and individuals committed
to the abolition of capital punishment. The
Coalition provides information, advocates for public
policy, and mobilizes activists nationally and locally
to oppose the death penalty. The Coalition can be
reached at 920 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington,
DC 20003, (202) 543-9577, or at www.ncadp.org.

▼

The Moratorium Campaign is a national effort to
mobilize grassroots support for a moratorium on
the death penalty, for more information contact;
P.O. Box 13727, New Orleans, LA 70185, (504) 8641071, www.moratoriumcampaign.org

▼

International Perspectives on the Death Penalty: A
Costly Isolation for the United States (October 1999),
a report prepared by the Death Penalty Information
Center, offering an analysis of the growing global
trend toward abolition of the death penalty and
increasing isolation of the United States in administering this punishment. Available from Richard
Dieter, Executive Director, Death Penalty Information
Center, 1320 18th Street, NW, 5th Floor, Washington,
DC 20036, or through the DPIC website,
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=45
&did=536.

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Death Penalty Information Center provides analysis
and information on issues concerning the death
penalty. The Death Penalty Information Center can
be reached at 1320 18th St., NW, Washington, DC
20036, (202) 293-6970, or at www.deathpenaltyinfo.org.

Beyond Reason: The Death Penalty and Offenders
with Mental Retardation, (March 2001), a report
prepared by Human Rights Watch examines legal
and scientific issues related to prosecution of mentally retarded offenders. The report is available online at www.hrw.org/reports/2001/ustat/.
Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Sentencing
Children to Death (March 2003), a report prepared
by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty (NCADP), documenting use of the death
penalty against those who commit crimes under the
age of eighteen as a violation of international
human rights. Available from Sapna Mirchandani,
Public Education Coordinator, Campaign to End
Juvenile Executions, NCADP, 920 Pennsylvania
Ave., SE, Washington DC20003, or
http://www.ncadp.org/NCADP-juvenile_report.pdf.

▼

Indecent and Internationally Illegal: The Death Penalty
Against Child Offenders, (2002), a report prepared by
Amnesty International USA. The report is available
on-line at www.amnestyusa.org/news/2002/usa
09252002.html.

F O R S A M P L E L E G I S L AT I V E A N D M E D I A
A C T I O N S R E G A R D I N G T H E D E A T H P E N A LT Y :
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National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s
Legislative Action Center. The Coalition’s on-line
Legislative Action Center allows visitors to the site
to obtain updates on anti-death penalty legislation
in every state. Updates include summaries of current and pending legislation as well as contact
information for state legislators. The Action Center
also allows visitors to the site the ability to send
instant messages to legislators to support or
oppose pending bills regarding moratoriums and
other legislation. The Action Center site also contains a media guide. This guide allows visitors to
the site to identify local media contacts on a stateby-state basis using zip code or city searches. The
media guide also enables visitors to the site to send
instant messages or “letters to the editor.” To find
out more information about the Coalition’s
Legislative Action Center visit www.ncadp.org.

FOR SAMPLE DIRECT ACTION AND
ORGANIZING TOOLS:
▼

Abolition Action Center, The Abolition Action Center
is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to
highly visible and effective public education for
alternatives to the death penalty through non-violent direct action. Members of the Action Center’s
ad-hoc group stage an annual fast and vigil to end
the death penalty on the steps of the Supreme
Court. Members of the group have also staged acts
of civil disobedience at the Supreme Court and in
other parts of the country. The Action Center can be
reached at www.abolition.org.

▼

Abolition Flashcard, The Abolition Flash Card is an
initiative of Amnesty International USA. The
Flashcard is a monthly update on resources, news,
information and action from Amnesty International
USA’s Program to Abolition the Death Penalty. To
sign-up for the flashcard contact Amnesty
International USA at: www.amnestyusa.org/abolish,
or email the Program to Abolish the Death Penalty
at padp@aiusa.org or call (202) 544-0200, ext. 500.

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Amnesty International USA, Program to Abolish the
Death Penalty’s Faith in Action Weekend takes place
annually in October and seeks to bring together two
important approaches to social justice — that of
human rights and that of faith-based community
action. This national observance weekend invites
individuals of all faiths, local congregations, and
national religious organizations to organize and
incorporate activities focused on the issue of the
death penalty into their worship service or weekend
activities. For more information contact Amnesty’s
Death Penalty project at; 600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE,
5th Fl., Washington, DC 20003, (202) 544-0200,
www.amnestyusa.org/abolish.

F O R S A M P L E U S E S O F I N T E R N AT I O N A L P R E S S U R E R E G A R D I N G T H E D E AT H P E N A LT Y S E E :
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same brief was also filed on behalf of Daryl Atkins in
Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision which
eliminated execution of the mentally retarded nationwide. The brief can be found at: www.internationaljusticeproject.org/pdfs/emccarver.pdf.
▼

F O R S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O M P L A I N T S
R E G A R D I N G T H E D E A T H P E N A LT Y S E E :
▼

The U.S. Position on the Death Penalty in the InterAmerican Human Rights System, 42 Santa Clara L.
Rev. 1159, Santa Clara Law Review, 2002, Richard
Wilson. This article provides an overview of death
penalty litigations against the United States in the
Inter-American human rights system. It reviews
claims raised in petitions filed in the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights by death row
inmates in the United States, how the United States
defends the decision of domestic courts in those
cases, and how the Commission has evolved in its
resolution of capital issues.

▼

Written Statement on the Death Penalty presented
at 59th Session of the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights. (March 2003), authored by
International Possibilities Unlimited (IPU), a new
non-governmental organization based in the United
States. Available from Dr. Deborah Robinson,
Executive Director, IPU, 8403 Colesville Road, Metro
Plaza Two, Suite 865, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or
through the UN website,
http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/Doc
uments?OpenFrameset.

There are many organizations globally that work to
end the death penalty throughout the world including here in the United States. The National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty created an
International Abolitionist Directory listing contact
information for many of these organizations. Please
see the Coalition’s contact information above.

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FOR SAMPLE HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINTS
I N U . S . C O U R T S R E G A R D I N G T H E D E AT H
P E N A LT Y S E E :

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Napoleon Beazley v. Gary Johnson, Brief of Amici
Curiae in Support of Petitioner (2001) (filed by
Constance de la Vega, counsel of record, in the
United States Supreme Court on behalf of Human
Rights Advocates, Human Rights Watch, Minnesota
Advocates for Human Rights, and Human Rights
Committee of the Bar of England and Wales).
Available from Constance De La Vega, University of
San Francisco Law Clinic, 2130 Fulton Street, San
Francisco, CA 94117, and reprinted with modification
in 42 Santa Clara L. Rev. 1041 (2002). This law
review article can also be found at
www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/ConniedelaVega.pdf.
McCarver v. North Carolina, Brief of Amici Curiae in
Support of Petitioner, (2000) (filed by Rick Wilson,
counsel of record, in the United States Supreme
Court on behalf of the European Union). This brief
addresses the execution of accused who is mentally
retarded. The McCarver case was made moot by the
North Carolina legislature which passed legislation
banning execution of the mentally retarded. This

Simmons v. Roper, SC84454, August 26, 2003.
Recent decision of the Supreme Court of Missouri,
which ruled the death penalty unconstitutional with
respect to its application against juveniles. The
court cites the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the
Child. The opinion can be found at:
www.osca.state.mo.us/courts/pubOpinions.nsf/.

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Avena and Other Mexican Nations (Mexico v.
United States). This International Court of Justice
(ICJ) case brought by Mexico against the United
States for violations of Articles 5 and 36 of the
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations with
respect to 54 Mexican nationals who have been sentenced to death in the states of California, Texas,
Illinois, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, Ohio,
Oklahoma, and Oregon. The ICJ granted provisional measures to Mexico requesting that the United
States take all measures necessary to prevent the
execution of three Mexicans on death row. For
more information go to ICJ website, www.icjcij.org/icjwww/idocket/imus/imusframe.htm?CFID=
35901&CFTOKEN=5e1d3fca4e70404e-B73DF012D639-D3BD-D3FDA0FCD802CE13.

FOR SAMPLE U.N. REPORTS ON THE U.S.
D E A T H P E N A LT Y S E E :

Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial and
Summary Executions on the United States, This report
is available on the website of the International Justice
Project at the bottom of the page there will be a link to
reports of the Special Rapporteur. Visit the
International Justice Project website at: www.internationaljusticeproject.org/juvResources.cfm.

NOTE: More general human rights resources can be found
in section III.

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In the United States, the
wealthiest country in the
world in aggregate terms,
an estimated 33 million
people live below the
federal poverty line.

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THE POOR

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In the United States, the wealthiest country in the world in aggregate terms, an estimated 33 million
people live below the federal poverty line. Official estimates of poverty have been widely critiqued,
however, and researchers developing alternative measures estimate that significantly larger numbers of
people are unable to meet basic needs. This persistent and widespread poverty is generally perceived
as an inevitable bi-product of society that can be managed rather than as a human rights violation that
must be eliminated. Both popular consciousness and political discourse disregard systematic and
structural inequalities that give rise to this high level of poverty, and lay the blame for poverty on individual poor people themselves.
In this way, the poor are socially stigmatized. This social stigma is internalized by poor people themselves, rendering anti-poverty organizing vulnerable to divisions between, for example, low-wage workers and people on public assistance. Poverty must be transformed into a human rights issue and concrete policy proposals for developing and implementing human rights-based solutions to poverty must
be created. In order for those solutions to be effective, it is essential that poor people themselves
define and are at the center of that movement.
Facts about human rights and poverty in the United States
■
The United States has the highest level of child poverty of any fully industrialized nation, and over
10 percent of households in the United States suffer from food insecurity.
■
The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported in December, 2002, that requests for emergency food
assistance increased an average of 19 percent over the previous year in 18 cities, the steepest rise
in a decade. Of those asking for emergency food 48 percent were members of families with children and 38 percent of the adults were employed.
■
74.7 million people had no health insurance for part or all of 2001 and 2002.
■
11.1 million Californians had no health insurance for all or part of 2001 and 2002.
■
The African American poverty rate is at a “historic low” of 22.7 percent, closely followed by 21.4
percent for Hispanics.

Photo by Harvey Finkle

■

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Between 2.5 and 3.5 million people will experience homelessness sometime during the year, and 12
million, or 6.5% of the population, will experience homelessness at some point in their lives. A
quarter of homeless are children, and families with children make up 37 % of the homeless.
In 1996, the federal government dismantled the six decades long welfare entitlement program,
deepening poverty for the “bottom” fifth of the population – i.e. families already considered to be
in “extreme poverty.”

Relevant Human Rights Treaties
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an investigatory body of the Organization of
American States, has jurisdiction over individual complaints from U.S. citizens alleging violations of
rights elaborated in the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. The American
Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man contains several provisions protecting economic and
social rights.
Article XIV: every person has the right to work and to receive adequate remuneration as will assure a
decent standard of living.
Article XVI: every person has the right to social security.
Article XXIII: “Every person has a right to own such private property as meets the essential needs of
decent living and helps to maintain the dignity of the individual and of the home.”
Article XXV : (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of
himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age
or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in
or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
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Article XXVI: (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary
and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the
basis of merit. For more information, see Appendix B.

Current Human Rights Work
Workers in the United States, like their counterparts throughout the globe, have begun to craft new
strategies in order to fight for economic human rights. They have a new vision of social justice, and
organizers are developing models at the local level, such as National Mobilization Against Sweatshops
(NMASS) in New York City, as well as the national level, such as the Poor People’s Economic Human
Rights Campaign (PPEHRC). The economic human rights framework is a vehicle for building a movement that joins the working poor with the jobless poor and unites the poor across color lines.
PPEHRC, for example, develops broad networks with a commitment to economic human rights, and
NMASS works in several languages with a range of communities. Poverty afflicts Americans of all colors, the largest segment being white Americans. PPEHRC and NMASS are part of a new civil rights
movement dedicated to fighting poverty as a human rights violation.

Suggested Advocacy Strategies
Strategies for using the human rights framework in anti-poverty advocacy include:
Build a broad movement to end poverty led by the poor as a united and organized force taking lessons from the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, the Kensington Welfare Rights
Union and organizers around the country using the economic human rights framework;
■
Use the legitimacy of the human rights framework to transform the public debate around basic
needs to a public call for basic rights that guarantee human dignity;
■
Foster unity and leadership of the poor of all colors;
■
Use the world moral and religious legitimacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the United Nations
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the growing global struggles of the world’s poor
majority to support a full fledged transnational economic human rights movement;
■
Conduct nationally coordinated activities to teach that poverty is a human rights violation and set
forth human rights-based solutions;
■
Develop a visual image with symbols and slogans depicting the budding economic human rights
movement in the United States and its new leadership;
■
Incorporate direct actions into anti-poverty activism that foster leadership by and for the poor,
including marches, bus tours, takeovers, tent cities, rallies, and sit-ins;
■
Develop a media strategy;
■
Use culture to highlight injustice, and resistance by poor people;
■
Develop human rights messages around government accountability and social responsibility for
poverty;
■
Build alliances across communities, in particular with faith-based and service organizations;
■
Use international human rights bodies to lodge complaints against the United States for violations
of economic, social, and cultural rights; and
■
Identify and/or develop economic models that demonstrate that poverty can be eliminated.

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■

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A C A S E I N P O I N T: T H E W O M E N ’ S E C O N O M I C A G E N D A P R O J E C T
Working people who never shared in the economic boom of the 1990s set out on August 26, 2002, on the Save
the Soul of America March and Freedom Bus Ride. The eight-day march wound through the East Bay Corridor
from San José to Vallejo and ended on Labor Day, September 2nd, in Oakland. Sponsored by the Women’s
Economic Agenda Project (WEAP) and the Community Homeless Alliance Ministry (CHAM), this was the seventh in a series of mobilizations aimed at building a new movement for economic justice. The march united
California workers who have been economically displaced, including temporary workers, immigrants, the young,
the poor, the homeless, and those cast aside by both the new and the old economies. This event documented
the shameful economic human rights violations in some of the poorest and most destitute areas of Northern
California’s East Bay region, as well as expanded the growing state and national movement known as the Poor
People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC). This movement was developed by the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania whose goal is the elimination of poverty.
WEAP has created more than 24 PPEHRC committees throughout California to document, educate, and declare
that poverty is an economic human rights violation. The committees confront these violations by learning and
teaching the solutions to acquiring adequate health care, living wage jobs, free higher education, and affordable
housing rights covered under Articles 23, 25 and 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Over
the course of the march, WEAP and CHAM strengthened California’s existing PPEHRC committees and laid the
groundwork for new ones to follow. For more information contact: Women’s Economic Agenda Project, 449 15th

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St., 2nd Fl., Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 451-7379, www.weap.org.

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“America Needs Human Rights,” (video produced by
Food First! Institute for Food and Development Policy)
“The time has come to stand up for what’s right in
America. The United States is arguably the richest
nation on Earth, but millions of Americans are not
sharing its bounty. Is it right that 30 million go hungry—12 million of them children—despite abundant
food? Thirty three million live below the poverty
line. These and similar statistics reveal widespread
and systematic violations of universally recognized
human rights, right here in America.” This video is
in VHS NTSC Format. $19.95, visit
www.foodfirst.org.

▼

Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Report on
the United States (1999), “This report shows the
plight and fight of poor people in communities
around the US including farmworkers in Florida,
public residents in Chicago, workfare workers in
San Francisco, and housekeepers in North Carolina.
It documents the beginning of an economic human
rights movement led by poor people themselves.”
48 pages. Available from the Kensington Welfare
Rights Union, P.O. Box 50678, Philadelphia, PA
19132, (215) 203-1945, www.kwru.org.

▼

Civil Society and School Accountability: A Human
Rights Approach to Parent and Community
Participation in New York City Schools, (June 2003),
Report produced by the Center for Economic and
Social Rights (CESR) and the Institute for Education
and Social Policy at New York University. The report
argues that parents and communities have a fundamental human right to participate in the management and oversight of the New York City School
system, and that their participation is essential for
creating greater accountability. The report identifies
and critiques obstacles to participation that currently exist in New York City schools and makes recommendations based on human rights standards for
how to better ensure effective civil society participation. For more information or for a copy of the
report contact CESR at (718) 237-9145 or
rights@cesr.org or visit www.cesr.org.

▼

International Network for Economic, Social, and
Cultural Rights, An emerging coalition of organizations and activists from around the world dedicated
to advancing economic, social, and cultural rights.
For more information visit their website at:
www.escr-net.org.

▼

Circle of Rights, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Activism: A Training Resource, (2000), A training manual created by the International Human Rights
Internship Program. Available on-line at:
www.hrusa.org/hrmaterials.IHRIP/circle/toc.htm.

SPECIFIC ADVOCACY TOOLS
▼

The University of the Poor, is the educational arm of
the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
(PPEHRC) and is concerned with developing and uniting the leaders for the movement to end poverty. One
of the main tools of University of the Poor are regional
economic human rights organizing schools. These
schools, based on the current needs and struggles of
each region, convene regional forums for leaders to
share experiences, refine knowledge and develop strategy in a number of different ways from “train the trainers sessions to leadership exchanges, from roundtable
discussion to teams to teach specific, action-oriented
tools. The form and content of these schools is openended and dependent on each region’s needs. The
schools will focus primarily on leadership development. The University of the Poor also has a Media
College, A School of Theology, a School of Labor, a
School for Social Workers, a School for Youth and
Parent Leadership, a School for Student Organizing
and a School of Artists. To organize a Regional
Economic Human Rights Organizing School or for
more information contact Co-Coordinators Liz
Theoharis (liz@universityofthepoor.org) or Willie
Baptist (willie@kwru.org). Articles available from
University of the Poor include:
◆ “A View from the Bottom: Poor People and Their
Allies Respond to Welfare Reform,” Willie Baptist,
Mary Bricker-Jenkins
◆ “A New and Unsettling Force” by Cheri Honkla and
Willie Baptist. www.kwru.org, also printed in “The
Other Side Magazine.”
◆ “The MLK you don’t see on TV,” Jeff Cohen, Norman
Soloman
◆ “MLK – The Trumpet of Conscience,” King’s
Speeches
◆ Human Rights Documentation and Monitoring
Survey and Form
◆ “The Poor Organizing the Poor” by Willie Baptist

▼

Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign
Mission Statement, Available on the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union website, www.kwru.org.

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Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign
California Newsletter, Summer 2003, Vol. 1, published
by Women’s Economic agenda Project (WEAP). For
copies of the newsletter contact WEAP at: 449 15th
Street, 2nd fl., Oakland, CA 94612, (520) 451-7379,
weap@weap.org.

▼

Questions and Answers about Health and Human
Rights, available from Marketing and
Dissemination, World Health Organization, 20
Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland,
Telephone: 41 22 791 2476, bookorders@who.int.

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Promises to Keep: Using Public Budgets as a Tool to
Advance Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
available from Fundacion Ford-Mexio, Apartado
Postal 105-71, Colonia Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11560.

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F O R S A M P L E S O F V I D E O D O C U M E N TA R Y
A N D A LT E R N A T I V E M E D I A A S H U M A N
R I G H T S O R G A N I Z I N G A N D E D U C AT I O N A L
T O O L S R E L AT E D T O P O V E R T Y S E E :
▼

Outriders (video, available from Skylight Pictures at
www.skylightpictures.com)

▼

Battle for Broad (video, available from Skylight Pictures
at www.skylightpictures.com)

▼

Poverty Outlaw (video, available from Skylight Pictures
at www.skylightpictures.com)

▼

Teen Dreams (video available from Skylight Pictures at
www.skylightpictures.com)

▼

A Day’s Work, A Day’s Pay (video available from New
Day Films at www.newday.com)

F O R S A M P L E D O C U M E N TAT I O N O F P O V E R T Y R E L AT E D I S S U E S A S H U M A N R I G H T S
V I O L AT I O N S S E E :
▼

Hunger is No Accident Report which examines human
rights violations related to the food stamp program in
New York City. Available from the Urban Justice
Center, 666 Broadway, 10th floor, New York, NY 10012,
(646) 602-5630, www.urbanjustice.org.

▼

Human Rights Violations in Welfare Legislation:
Pushing Recipients Deeper into Poverty, Available from
the Urban Justice Center, 666 Broadway, 10th floor,
New York, NY 10012, (646) 602-5630, www.urbanjustice.org.

F O R S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O M P L A I N T S
AND REPORTS REGARDING ECONOMIC
RIGHTS SEE:
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Human Rights Petition before the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, The Center for
Economic and Social Rights (CESR), as co-counsel
with the Center for Constitutional Rights and the
International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic, filed
a petition on June 9, 2003 before the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights against the United
States on behalf of the Economic Human Rights
Campaign. The petition challenges aspects of the
1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act (“welfare reform”) that exclude
whole categories of people from receiving necessary
benefits. For more information or for a copy of the
petition contact CESR at (718) 237-9145 or
rights@cesr.org or visit www.cesr.org.

▼

From the Outside Looking In: Changing New York
City’s Education through the Human Rights Approach,
(April 2002), This is a report produced by Professor
Katarina Tomasevski, The United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the Right to Education. The United
Nations Special Rapporteur works through the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights and produced
this report following her visit to New York City in
October 2001 where she met with local parent, community, and advocacy organizations. This meeting was
organized by the Center for Economic and Social
Rights (CESR) and the Institute for Education and
Social Policy at the New York University. For more
information or for a copy of the report contact CESR at
(718) 237-9145 or rights@cesr.org or visit www.cesr.org.

NOTE: More general human rights resources can be found
in section III.

3 3

Large segments of the U.S.
population continue to
face systemic barriers to
the full enjoyment of their
human rights

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

D I S C R I M I NAT I O N

3 4

Discrimination – in all of its various manifestations — continues to permeate social, political and economic institutions in the United States. The presence of hundreds of U.S. organizations at the August,
2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance,
demonstrates the wide spectrum of advocacy in the United States related to issues of discrimination. A
survey of some of the people and issues represented at the World Conference includes: discrimination
against Africans and African descendants; reparations for descendants of U.S. slavery; justice for Dalits
and the Palestinians; anti-Semitism; anti-Arab racism and Islamaphobia; discrimination against Asians
and Asian descendants; criminal justice issues; colonialism and its continuing effects on society; discrimination against persons with disabilities; education issues; discrimination against ethnic and national
minorities and groups; environmental racism; gender discrimination; globalization issues; hate violence;
police brutality, racial profiling, economic oppression, health issues; discrimination against indigenous
peoples; labor issues; discrimination against migrants; religious intolerance; discrimination based upon
sexual orientation; and discrimination affecting children and the elderly. Despite the U.S. government’s
failure to fully participate, the World Conference succeeded in showcasing the degree to which large segments of the U.S. population face systemic barriers to the full enjoyment of their human rights.

Why Human Rights
The current domestic climate in the United States is characterized by a sustained attack on the legal
and political framework that combats discrimination and inequality in this country. Civil rights and
remedies are being systematically curtailed by all three branches of a hostile and increasingly conservative federal government. By contrast, the human rights framework defines discrimination as an issue
of substantive, rather than solely legal inequality, and thus may positively influence the debate on
issues such as affirmative action and drug sentencing. Recent groundbreaking decisions by the United
States Supreme Court acknowledged the influence of human rights norms and their relevance to U.S.
law and practice regarding discrimination. In a dissenting opinion in the University of Michigan
undergraduate admission case, Gratz v. Bollinger, No. 02-51 and a concurring opinion in Grutter v.
Bollinger, No.02-241, the University of Michigan Law School case, Justice Ginsburg cited both the

Photo provided by the Women’s Rights Network

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. International law was also recognized in
the majority opinion in the sodomy statute case, Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102. Written by Justice
Kennedy, this opinion cited the 1981 decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which struck
down remaining European sodomy statutes.

Relevant Human Rights Treaties
The human rights framework recognizes that discrimination as such an expansive a problem that it
implicates nearly every human rights treaty or declaration. Treaties include:
■
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
■
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
■
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
■
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
■
Convention on the Rights of the Child
■
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
For more detailed information, see Appendix B.

Current Human Rights Work
In addition to the increasing comparative and persuasive importance international human rights
norms are having in the U.S. courts, activists are also using the human rights framework as part of a
political campaign to change the domestic dialogue about discrimination issues. For example, citing
the Conventions on the elimination of racial and gender discrimination, a coalition of local and national non-governmental organizations are working to encourage New York City to pass an ordinance that
would require city agencies and programs to determine whether their policies and practices have a discriminatory impact on women and people of color. Working at the international level, a number of U.S.
organizations filed “shadow reports” with the committee which oversees the race convention exposing
the discriminatory practices in policing, the healthcare system, and education, to name a few, to the
scrutiny of the international community.
3 5

Suggested Advocacy Strategies

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Some suggested human rights activities for anti-discrimination activists include:
■
Raise public awareness about discrimination as an abuse of human rights in the United States
through multi-level human rights work including community organizing documentation, public
campaigns, litigation and pressure on government agencies and policies;
■
Create local and national organizing campaigns focused on Congressional ratification of critical
human rights treaties and declarations, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Covenant
on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights;
■
Submit shadow reports to international human rights enforcement bodies to ensure international
monitoring of the United States, and to educate the U.S. public about human rights and their
application to situations in the United States;
■
Provide training and support to local organizations to document discrimination using human
rights standards;
■
Identify organizations and coalitions that are actually using the human rights framework to fight
discrimination at the local, domestic and international level in order to learn from them and implement strategies that are known to work;
■
Build a youth rights campaign using the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial
Discrimination and referencing the U.S. failure to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Collaborate with youth organizations that are doing anti-discrimination work and especially those
who are already doing human rights work; and
■
Publish a set of best practices on how to apply human rights to anti-discrimination work in the
United States.

3 6

A C A S E I N P O I N T:

H AT R E D I N T H E H A L LW AY S

“Hatred in the Hallways: Violence and Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Students
in U.S. Schools,” is an in-depth report released by Human Rights Watch that documents human rights abuses
against young people in our nation’s school systems. This report is based on interviews with 140 youth and 130
teachers, administrators, counselors, parents, and youth service providers in seven states, and offers the first comprehensive look at the human rights abuses suffered by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (lbgt) students at
the hands of their peers. Human Rights Watch documents physical, verbal, and psychological abuse suffered by
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered teens and the frequent failure of school administrators to protect them.
The report also identifies the consequences of such harassment on students including dropping out of school,
poor academic performance, physical injury, and in some cases suicide. The report also includes recommendations for intervention on the part of school administrators and state and federal agencies. For more info contact:
Human Rights Watch, 350 5th Ave., 34th fl., New York, NY 10018, (212) 290-4700, www.hrw.org.

Resources

DISCRIMINATION

GENERAL:
▼

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

▼

▼

▼

Using the international human rights system to
combat racial discrimination: A Handbook, Amnesty
International, 2001. This handbook is aimed to help
non-governmental organizations negotiate international and regional treaties and standards that prohibit racial discrimination, as well as international
and regional human rights bodies that can serve as
resources in combating racial discrimination.
Available in Arabic, Spanish, and English. To order
a copy, send your request to Amnesty International,
322 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001 or adminus@aiusa.org. You can also see the Amnesty website at www.aiusa.org or call (212) 807-8400.
Combating Racism Together, International Human
Rights Law Group, 2001. In preparation for the
2001 United Nations World Conference Against
Racism, the Law Group created a multi-lingual
guide for Non Governmental Organizations
(NGO’s) participating in the Conference. This
guide provided information to U.S. civil rights and
social justice organizations about Conference participation, lobbying governmental representatives,
and background on the Race Convention. Copies of
the guide are available from the International
Human Rights Law Group, 1200 18th St., NW, Suite
602, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 822-4600 or on
their website at www.hrlawgroup.org.
Voices, International Human Rights Law Group,
2002. During the 2001 United Nations World
Conference Against Racism, the Law Group presented a six day forum on the comparative experiences
of racism. This forum featured 21 individuals from
18 different countries who spoke on their experience
with racism. The testimony provided by these individuals is available in report or CD-ROM form.
They can be found at the International Human
Right Law Group, 1200 18th St., NW, Suite 602,
Washington, DC 20036, (202) 822-4600 or by contacting VoicesProject@hrlawgroup.org.
With Liberty and Justice for All: Women’s Human
Rights in the United States, Malika Dutt for the
Center for Women’s Global Leadership, 1994. Copies
are available from Women Ink, 777 U.N. Plaza, New
York, NY 10017, (212) 687-8633 or by email at
wink@womenink.org, website: www.womenink.org.

▼

Human Rights of Women: A Reference Guide to
Official UN Documents, United Nations documents
can be found at University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts/.

▼

Bringing Equality Home, edited by Ilana LandsbergLewis for the United Nations Development Fund for
Women, 1998. Copies are available from Women
Ink, 777 U.N. Plaza, New York, NY 10017, (212)
687-8633 or by email at wink@womenink.org, website: www.womenink.org.

▼

Racial Discrimination in Healthcare in the U.S. as a
Violation of the ICERD, 14 University of Florida
Journal of Law and Public Policy 45-91, (Fall 2002),
Vernellia R. Randall. The paper discusses disparity
in health status, institutional discrimination in
healthcare, and inadequate legal enforcement,
which points to serious human rights violations
under CERD. Article available on-line at Race,
Healthcare, and the Law website,
www.academic.udayton.edu/health/07humanrights.

▼

Center for Women’s Global Leadership, The Center develops and facilitates women’s leadership for women’s
human rights and social justice worldwide. The Center
can be reached at: Douglass College, Rutgers, The Sate
University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901,
(732) 932-8782, www.cwgl.rutgers.edu.

▼

International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights
Commission (IGLHRC), IGLHR uses advocacy, documentation, coalition building, education, and technical assistance to secure the full enjoyment of the
human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or
expression and/or HIV status. IGLHRC can be
reached at: 1375 Sutter St., Suite 222, San Francisco,
CA 94109, (415) 561-0633, www.iglhrc.org.

▼

Applied Research Center (ARC), ARC is a public policy, educational, and research institute whose work
emphasizes issues of race and social change. ARC
can be reached at: 3781 Broadway, Oakland, CA
94611, (510) 653-3415, www.arc.org.

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Resources
▼

DISCRIMINATION

The Southern Human Rights Organizers’
Conference, (SHROC) was first convened at the
Univeristy of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi
September, 1996. SHROC is a bi-annual gathering
of grassroots human rights and social justice
activists and organizers. Over the years, the conference has been held in Jackson, Mississippi, Atlanta,
Georgia and Miami, Florida. Principal organizations
involved in building SHROC are: Mississippi workers’ Center for Human Rights, Amnesty
International Southern Regional Office and the
National Center for Human Rights Education. Visit
our website www.msworkerscenter.org or call (662)
334-1122.

▼

“Battered Mothers Speak Out: A Human Rights
Tribunal on Domestic Violence and Child Custody”
(video, 2002) Available from the Women’s Right’s
Network, Wellesley Center for Women, 106 Central
St., Wellesley, MA 02481, (781) 283-2548,
www.wcwonline.org/wrn.

▼

Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.
Regional resource for organizations addressing
racial discrimination and worker’s rights. Center
provides sample advocacy tools such as sample
petitions, position papers on hostile work environment issues, sample press releases and flyers, and
guidelines for holding town meetings and press
conferences. For more information, call: 662-3341122 or e-mail: rightsms@bellsouth.net.

▼

Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the
War on Drugs, (May 2000), Available from Human
Rights Watch, 350 5th Ave., New York, NY 10118,
(212) 290-4700, or at
www.hrw.org/reports/world/usdom-pubs.php.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

FOR SAMPLE “SHADOW REPORTS” TO THE
RACE CONVENTION COMMITTEE SEE:

3 8

▼

The Persistence of White Privledge and Institutional
Racism in U.S. Policy, Applied Research Center,
Transnational Racial Justice Initiative’s Shadow
Report for CERD, 2000. Available from the Applied
Research Center, 3781 Broadway, Oakland, CA
94611, (510) 653-3415 or on-line at www.arc.org/trji.

▼

CERD Shadow Report, Racial and Ethnic
Discrimination in the U.S., Status of Compliance by
the U.S. Government with the ICERD, World
Organization Against Torture/USA, 2001. Available
from the World Organization Against Torture, 1725
K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 296-5702
or on-line at www.woatusa.org/cerd/.

▼

Compliance with Article 5: Economic Social and
Cultural Rights Under the International Convention
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: A
Report on US Government Compliance with ICERD,
Available from the Urban Justice Center, 666
Broadway, 10th floor, New York, NY 10012, (646)
602-5630, www.urbanjustice.org.

FOR SAMPLE COMPLAINTS, OPINIONS OR
AMICUS BRIEFS IN U.S. COURTS SEE:
▼

Gratz v. Bollinger, No. 02-516, Supreme Court decision which struck down the University of
Michigan’s undergraduate affirmative action policy.
Justice Ginsburg dissented from the majority opinion and cited human rights treaties (Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination and the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women). To view her dissenting opinion see the
Supreme Court website:
www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions.

▼

Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 02-241, Supreme Court decision which upheld the University of Michigan Law
School’s affirmative action policy. Justice Ginsburg
concurred with the majority opinion and cited
human rights treaties (Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women). To view her
concurring opinion see the Supreme Court website:
www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions.

▼

Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 02-241, Brief of Amici Curiae
in Support of Petitioner, (2002) (filed by the
National Organization for Women Legal Defense
and Education Fund [NOWLDEF]). This brief
addresses the importance of international treaties
and the decisions of foreign courts when ruling on

F O R S A M P L E D O C U M E N TAT I O N S E E :
▼

Key Survey Findings: Assessing the Intersection of
Race and Welfare Reform for New York City
Households, Available from the Urban Justice
Center, 666 Broadway, 10th floor, New York, NY
10012, (646) 602-5630, www.urbanjustice.org.

▼

Battered Mothers Speak Out: A Human Rights
Report on Domestic Violence and Child Custody in
the Massachusetts Family Courts. Available from
the Women’s Right’s Network, Wellesley Center for
Women, 106 Central St., Wellesley, MA 02481, (781)
283-2548, www.wcwonline.org/wrn.

Resources

DISCRIMINATION

the constitutionality of affirmative action. The brief
can be found at the NOWLDEF website : www.nowldef.org/html/issues/whr/pdf/gruttervbollingeremail.pdf.
▼

Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102, Supreme Court decision which struck down state sodomy laws. The
majority opinion, by Justice Kennedy, cites a previous decision by the European Court of Human
Rights which struck down European sodomy laws.
To view the decision, visit the Supreme Court website at: www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions.

▼

Amicus Brief in Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102 filed
by Mary Robinson, Amnesty International, USA,
Human Rights Watch, Interights, Lawyers
Committee for Human Rights, Minnesota
Advocates for Human Rights, Brief is available on
the website of the Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights, www.lchr.org/international_justice/
various/lawrence.pdf. The Lawyers Committee can
be reached at 333 7th Ave., 13th floor, New York, NY
10001.

F O R S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L
COMPLAINTS SEE:

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A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

▼

International Human Rights Law Group, 1200 18th
St., NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC 20036, (202)
822-4600, www.hrlawgroup.org. In 1999 and 2000
the Law Group provided training and support to
U.S. racial, criminal, and environmental justice
organizations enabling them to present information
about discrimination in the United States to members of the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights. Additionally, the Law Group provided training and assistance to U.S. social justice groups in
2001 to prepare and submit shadow reports to the
United Nations CERD Committee. Information
about this initiative can be found on the Law Group
website at www.hrlawgroup.org/country_programs/united_states/capacity_building.asp.

NOTE: More general human rights resources can be
found in section III.

3 9

O, let my land be a land where
Liberty Is crowned with no
false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real,
and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
Langston Hughes

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Section III:

4 0

T H E

U . S .

H U M A N

R I G H T S

M O V E M E N T

Social justice organizations in the United States have a long history of using human rights as one of
many tools in the fight for fundamental change. During the latter half of the last century that history –
and the pioneering activism it reflected – was at risk of being lost. Now, as a result of globalization, the
events of September 11, 2001, mounting threats to domestic civil rights and liberties, increased economic inequality and insecurity and other factors, the use of human rights in U.S. social justice work is
being reclaimed.
The emerging U.S. human rights movement sees in human rights a way to reframe their rights work in
broader, more integrated and more participatory terms. Human rights recognizes rights in all aspects
of civil, political, economic, social and cultural life, and sees these rights as interdependent on one
another. Human rights also restores the notion of the inalienability of rights, investing them not in any
particular law or type of person, but in the simple status of being human. Human rights is a common
vision of opportunity and well being for all – a powerful starting place for the participatory methodology and multi-issue, cross-constituency human rights advocacy described below.
The previous section examined ongoing U.S. human rights work in specific issue areas. This section
takes a more general look at non-issue specific human rights methods and strategies that activists are
using to assist those whose rights are under attack in their communities. These include 1) educating
communities about human rights standards, 2) organizing public protest and response to human
rights violations; 3) documenting human rights violations; 4) infusing international human rights standards into the U.S. legal system; 5) assessing and shaping U.S. rights policy in human rights terms;
and 6)producing scholarship that reflects and supports U.S. human rights work.

These methods and strategies continue to be explored and expanded by domestic activists with the
goal of bringing the United States government in line with human rights standards. As that work
unfolds, several basic principles have begun to emerge. These are:
■
Human Rights are interdependent and universal;
■
Human Rights include civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
■
Human Rights are protected through building social movements;
■
Human Rights movements must ensure leadership by those most directly affected;
■
Human rights advocacy must always respect the diversity within communities; and
■
Human rights organizations must be financially responsible and accountable.
We offer the following toolkit for putting human rights into action with these basic principles in mind.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Photo by Harvey Finkle

4 1

M E T H O D S
A T o o l k i t

A N D S T R A T E G I E S I N A C T I O N :
f o r H u m a n R i g h t s A d v o c a c y

H U M A N R I G H T S ED U CAT I O N

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Public awareness of human rights in the United States is extraordinarily low. Unlike some nations, where
human rights education has become a routine practice, it is severely lacking in the United States. A poll conducted by Human Rights USA in 1997 indicated that only 8% of Americans knew of the existence of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Clearly, this lack of education has taken a large toll on general awareness of human rights, has kept Americans from identifying social justice struggles as human rights struggles
and has fueled the perception that human rights violations happen only outside the United States.
When the term “human rights” is raised in
the United States, it is often presented as a
concept that applies elsewhere or is only
accessible to experts. Such approaches fail to
acknowledge the experience and wisdom of
U.S. communities that are affected by
human rights violations. A progressive
approach to human rights education can
remedy this situation, both by making
human rights accessible to communities
and by offering them a radical tool for
empowerment and organizing. By providing
tools and information that inherently support the dignity of individuals and communities, human rights education can become a
transformative process that allows the development of a common framework for social
justice across identities and issue areas.

Many domestic social justice organizations include human rights
education amongst their activities. These organizations include
those involved in issues such as workers rights (Mississippi
Worker’s Center for Human Rights) , ending poverty (Kensington
Welfare Rights Union) immigrants’ rights (National Network for
Immigrant and Refugee Rights) to name just a few. Additionally,
organizations like the National Center for Human Rights
Education bring human rights education to activists and organizations from around the country. The Mississippi Worker’s
Center’s education efforts place local worker’s struggles in a larger context of global worker’s struggles and international human
rights. Trainings led by the Worker’s Center include information
about domestic concerns such as the Occupational Safety and

The value of human rights education cannot be overstated: it is the first step in building awareness of the concept of human rights itself. Strategically,
human rights education is crucial to the success of any campaign or organizing drive engaging the human
rights framework. Only by building more familiarity with the concept of human rights among community
members, constituents, allies, and decision-makers will a human rights message be fully understood. In
addition, human rights education can serve as an organizing opportunity, by empowering community members to participate in a process that may have at first seemed far removed from local conditions.

Strategies:
■
■

■
■

■

■

4 2

A C A S E I N P O I N T:
H U M A N R I G H T S E D U C AT I O N

■

Integrate human rights education as a vital part of an organizing strategy in campaigns;
Integrate information about human rights into other educational events and/or workshops that organizations already conduct on many issues;
Create methods for human rights education that address the specific needs of your community;
Hold human rights institutes or trainings for trainers to further empower social justice activists to use
human rights education as a tool in their communities;
Ensure that those whose human rights are violated are involved in the preparation and implementation
of human rights trainings;
Facilitate human rights education for funders and foundations and other influential community members to address lack of resources and other support; and
Work with educators in local schools to integrate a human rights framework into their curriculum.

Resources

HUMAN

RIGHTS

EDUCATION

O R G A N I Z AT I O N S
▼

National Center for Human Rights Education, the Center
can be reached through their website, www.nchre.org ,
P.O. Box 311020, Atlanta, GA 31131or by phone at (404)
344-9629. The Center has a variety of resource materials available for educators, including fact sheets adapted
to various issue areas and pocket-size copies of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

▼

Health Administration as well as information about the Universal

P U B L I C AT I O N S

Declaration of Human Rights. The National Center for Human

▼

Learning, Reflecting, and Acting: 149 Activities Used in
Learning Human Rights is a guide to introducing
human rights education in community settings.
Published by People’s Decade for Human Rights
Education. Visit www.pdhre.org for more information.

▼

Popular Education for Movement Building: A Resource
Guide Vol. 1 This great introduction to popular education for social change includes workshops on Welfare
in the Global Economy, Health Care for All & Criminal
Injustice & the Police State. Additionally, it contains
descriptions of 8 popular education tools developed at
the 1st Southern Institute for Popular Education, as
well as suggestions for designing your own workshops.
A publication of Project South. $25.00, visit www.projectsouth.org for more information.

▼

Primary, Intermediate, and Secondary School Kits on
the United Nations. These three publications offer
ready-to-go curriculum on human rights for school
teachers at all levels. For more information, contact
U.N. Publications at 212-963-8302.

▼

Women’s Education in the Global Economy (WEdGE)
is a workbook of lessons, activities, games and skits
for better understanding the impact of the global economy on women all around the world. Includes modules on the importance of human rights to these
issues. Published by the Women of Color Resource
Center. ($24.95, visit www.coloredgirls.org for more
information).

Rights Education offers an array of trainings on human rights,
and has tailored numerous presentations, fact sheets, and
resource lists for organizations working on a variety of social justice issues. The Kensington Welfare Rights Union provides
human rights education to anti-poverty organizations around the
country as part of its efforts to organize the Poor Peoples
Economic Human Rights Campaign. The National Network for
Immigrant and Refugee Rights has created educational curriculums that feature popular education workshops geared toward
community organizing and human rights (please see resource

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

section for information about all these materials). For general

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

Amnesty International USA, (national office) 322 8th
Ave, New York, NY 10001, (212) 807-8400,
www.aiusa.org. Amnesty has created a variety of different educational materials for young people and other
audiences including a manual for human rights education, human rights syllabi, sample lesson plans, and
classroom materials for grades K-12. These educational materials are available on-line at www.amnesty-volunteer.org/usa/education/index.

human rights education contact: The National Center for Human
Rights Education, P.O. Box 311020, Atlanta, GA 31131, (404) 3449629, www.nchre.org.

▼

The People’s Decade for Human Rights Education
publishes a number of training manuals and teaching
materials on the subject of human rights education.
For more information, visit www.pdhre.org.

▼

Human Rights Education Associates is an international organization that provides a clearinghouse of
human rights curricula, study guides, and news. Visit
www.hrea.org for more information.

▼

The Refugee Women’s Network offers technical assistance and expertise to emerging local refugee women’s
groups. Training programs that enhance refugee
women’s skills include conflict resolution, board development, grant writing, program management, grassroots community organizing, participation in civil society, effective communication, strategic planning and
others. For more information, visit www.riwn.org.

NOTE: Information on relevant international and regional
human rights documents can be found in Appendix B.

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The message of human
rights has tremendous
potential for mobilizing
communities.

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HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZING

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Grassroots and community organizing is key to achieving social change in the United States. For a
human rights movement to be successful, the communities most affected by human rights violations
must be organized and at the center of the movement. The message of human rights has tremendous
potential for mobilizing communities. By framing struggles as human rights issues, communities are
empowered to claim their rights for themselves and demand accountability to internationally recognized standards.
Human rights organizing work is already underway in the United States with workers, former prisoners, immigrants, youth, people of color, American Indians, women, and the
Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgendered community. Moreover, organizers are using human rights to advocate
on a wide range of issues including welfare rights, a living wage, work conditions and healthcare benefits for factory and domestic workers, land rights, housing, criminal justice and police brutality, militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and women’s rights. Human rights can also bring diverse communities fighting for a wide range of issues together under a common framework. Such an approach
goes a long way towards addressing chronic divisions in U.S. social justice work that have resulted in
part from turf issues and in part from affected communities being far too removed from the policy and
legal work undertaken on their behalf.
One of the biggest challenges facing human rights organizers in the United States is the population’s
general lack of familiarity with human rights, the product in part US exceptionalism and underlying
assumptions that these standards are not relevant or enforceable domestically. Organizers need to
redefine issues so that people can relate to human rights in their daily lives in their local communities.
Even as such links begin to be made, however, organizers must address potential backlash against
claims of human rights violations. All advocacy efforts carry some risk, but experience has shown that
use of the human rights language can intensify the backlash. When the targets of the backlash are
poor or undocumented it is extremely hard to protect them. They can face unemployment or deportation – even criminalization — for claiming their rights. Yet, these voices are critical for making gains

Summit participants Rick Halperin, Trishla Deb, Ethel Long Scott

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in achieving human rights. Any organizing effort has got to take that into account and ensure that
developing community leaders also have their fundamental needs and rights safeguarded. Indeed, it
is essential to have the people most affected lend their voice while simultaneously addressing their
immediate needs.

Strategies
■
■

■

■

■

■

Ensure the development of community leaders who represent those directly affected by violations;
Incorporate a participatory approach to organizing, ensuring that the communities most affected
identify organizing priorities;
Build the capacity of community leaders in using a human rights approach, through trainings and
dialogues on strategy and direction;
Facilitate dialogue across organizing communities and issues using the power of human rights to
bring together diverse constituencies;
Develop multi-faceted campaigns which include strategies for education, media, litigation, and
direct action;
Increase the visibility of human rights organizers by facilitating access to media, technology, and
national and international fora where key human rights issues are being debated and decided.

The chief lesson learned by U.S. human rights organizers is that those most affected must be central
to the movement for it to have lasting effect in local communities. Acting on this principle, organizers
have learned to prioritize capacity-building and not to allow the need to “win” on a given issue to overtake efforts to build leadership. As community leadership grows, the human rights framework enables
organized constituencies in different issue areas to build coalitions and to make connections between
different social strata, such as, between low wage workers and those on public assistance. The focus
on leadership building, however, does not eliminate the need to focus of tangible goals, even if they
are long-term. Reframing organizing efforts, including civil disobedience, as human rights work also
gives people a sense of empowerment, helps attract media attention, creates moral force, and helps to
meet real needs.
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A C A S E I N P O I N T: H U M A N R I G H T S O R G A N I Z I N G
The Deaf & Deaf-Blind Committee on Human Rights (DDBCHR) is an example of the human rights organizing
efforts that are taking place across the country. The DDBCHR, based in Ohio, works to build a movement to gain
equality, a respectful living environment, and human rights for all deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind people. The
DDBCHR fights for housing, healthcare, social services, and living wage jobs for the deaf and deaf-blind community. Since its formation in 1998, the DDBCHR has held demonstrations to demand interpreters for deaf and deafblind patients at local hospitals, participated in national marches for economic human rights, and provided ongoing educational forums for the deaf and deaf-blind community. For more information contact: The Deaf and

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Deaf-Blind Committee for Human Rights, 1875 North Ridge Rd. East, Suite A, Lorain, OH 44055, (440) 277-7946.

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Resources

ORGANIZING

EXAMPLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ORGANIZING CAMPAIGNS:

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▼

Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign,
The campaign is spearheaded by the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union, P.O. Box 50678, Philadelphia,
PA 19132, (215) 203-1945, www.kwru.org. The Poor
People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is a
national effort led by poor and homeless women,
men and children of all races to raise the issue of
poverty as a human rights violation. The campaign
is made up of over 50 organizations of poor people
from across the United States of America, from
public housing residents facing the demolition of
their housing in Chicago to welfare recipients about
to be cut off from assistance in Philadelphia; from
farm workers working for poverty wages in Florida
to workfare workers organizing in San Francisco.
For more information contact the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union or visit their website at
www.kwru.org.

▼

People’s Coalition to Take Back Our Schools, The
People’s Coalition to Take Back Our Schools is a
coalition of parents, community organizations and
individuals fighting for the right to a quality education for all New York City children. They base their
advocacy on the human rights of parents, students
and communities to participate in the governance
of the education system, to have effective remedies
available for violations of their rights, and independent monitoring of the school system. They support
the creation of a human rights ombudsperson office
to support parent and community participation and
monitor the quality of education in New York City
schools, www.takebackourschools.info.

▼

City of Santa Cruz, Moratorium Resolution (May
1998) This notes the findings of United Nation’s
Special Rapporteur that the application of the death
penalty in the United States violates international
law in certain respects and that the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights calls for a moratorium on the death penalty).
Available from Equal Justice USA, P.O. Box 5206,
Hyattsville, MD 20782, or
www.quixote.org/ej (under sample resolutions,
Santa Cruz, CA).

P U B L I C AT I O N S :
▼

Human rights manual on domestic violence and
sexual assault as human rights violation. For use
with advocates and service providers. Available
from the Women’s Right’s Network, Wellesley
Center for Women. Call (781) 283-2548, or visit
www.wcwonline.org/wrn.

▼

Strategy Connections. These papers outline some of
the connections between the strategic considerations faced by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his helping
to build a non-violent social movement led by poor
people, and those faced by the Poor People’s
Economic Human Rights Campaign as they try to
build a similar movement of the American people to
end poverty, led by the poor. Available from the
Kensington Welfare Rights Union, PO Box 50678,
Philadelphia, PA 19132, (215) 203-1945,
http://www.universityofthepoor.org/library/stratpapers/stratpapers.htm1).

▼

Forefront Handbook Series, Forefront is a human
rights organization which provides resources to
other grassroots groups. Publications include:
Making the Most of the Media: Tools for Human
Rights Groups Worldwide, A Handbook of Practical
Strategies for Local Human Rights Groups, Human
Rights Institution-Building: A Handbook on
Establishing and Sustaining Human Rights
Organizations, A Quick Guide to Funding Sources
for Human Rights Organizations. Forefront can be
reached at 333 7th Ave., 13th Floor, New York, NY
10001, (212) 845-5273, www.forefrontleaders.org.

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Documenting human
rights violations can be a
powerful way to make
abuses visible and credible.

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H U M A N R I G H T S D O C U M E N TAT I O N

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Documenting human rights violations can be a powerful way to make the abuses faced by your community visible and credible, and can help to expose and challenge the perpetrators of the abuse. By
collecting information about human rights violations in your community, it is possible to introduce a
human rights perspective to your work, while empowering community members to speak for themselves in confronting human rights abuses. Documentation of abuse also provides a quantifiable, yet
human face to a situation, providing a tool for further action.
Human rights documentation can be used in a variety of ways to build public and legal support to stop
abuse. For example, the results of documentation are often used as a way to raise public and media
awareness about a problem, putting pressure on those responsible to change the situation. Efforts to
document human rights abuses in the United States have included the mapping of native land, documenting race and gender discrimination in education, exposing abuses by the U.S. border patrol, tracking the denial of basic rights to an adequate standard of health care or housing, and publicizing the
failure of states to protect against domestic violence. These findings have also been used as evidence
in domestic and international legal complaints against perpetrators of human rights abuses.
While human rights documentation can prove to be challenging, time-intensive and exacting work, the
results of a community fact-finding mission can become an important tool in all aspects of a human
rights campaign, from community organizing to political and legal advocacy. In the past, large, wellfunded human rights organizations have used their resources to draw attention to specific human
rights violations, but increasingly grassroots organizations are using participatory methods of research
to gather information in their communities and pursue advocacy campaigns on their own behalf.
Through these participatory methods, documentation becomes a powerful organizing tool whereby
affected communities get actively involved in exposing, analyzing, and combating abuse. The following
list provides some strategies that local community groups and others have used to ensure accountability and empowerment in human rights documentation, whether documentation is conducted by community members or by external activists.

Summit participant Steve Hawkins

Strategies:
■

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■

■

■

■

Provide community-appropriate human rights education to all involved in the documentation
process;
Train community members and activists in human rights documentation standards, methods and
techniques (including less traditional methods like video);
Engage the leadership and involvement of community members and activists to document abuses
as an organizing opportunity;
Develop a communications, media, and advocacy strategy that involves and empowers community
members when publicizing the results of documentation; and
Develop participatory methods of research with an emphasis on transparency and accountability
in the documentation process, and acknowledge biases of researchers.

A C A S E I N P O I N T: B A T T E R E D M O T H E R ’ S T E S T I M O N Y P R O J E C T
The Women’s Rights Network’s Battered Mother’s Testimony Project (BMTP) is a human rights documentation
project that assessed the extent to which the Massachusetts family court system adheres to international human
rights standards and norms in domestic violence and child custody cases and identifies the necessary changes to
ensure that the family courts meet their human rights obligations. Components of the BMTP included documentation, a human rights report, and a human rights tribunal. The project trained volunteers to gather qualitative data
from the affected community and produced a human rights report which advocated for a higher standard of government accountability for protecting battered women and their children. Battered mothers were involved in all
aspects of the project including planning, interviewing, and production of the report. For more information contact: The Women’s Rights Network, Wellesley Center for Women, 106 Central St., Wellesley, MA 02481, (781) 2832548, www.wcwonline.org/wrn.

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Resources

DOCUMENTATION

EXAMPLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS
D O C U M E N TAT I O N :

Community organizations:
▼
Hunger is No Accident, July 2000. Report which examines human rights violations related to the food stamp
program in New York City. Available from the Urban
Justice Center, 666 Broadway, 10th floor, New York, NY
10012, (646) 602-5630, www.urbanjustice.org.
▼

Battered Women Speak Out, November 2002.
Available from the Women’s Right’s Network,
Wellesley Center for Women, 106 Central St., Wellesley,
MA 02481, (781) 283-2548, www.wcwonline.org/wrn.

▼

Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Report on the
United States, for information about this report please
see the website for the Kensington Welfare Rights
Union, P.O. Box 50678, Philadelphia, PA 19132, (215)
203-1945 www.kwru.org.

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▼

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▼

Manuals on Human Rights Documentation
▼
The Human Rights Abuse Documentation Reference
Manual, a publication of Casa de Proyecto Libertad,
Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project, and
the Border Network for Human Rights. This manual
provides information on documenting human rights
abuses in the U.S. immigration law enforcement context. Contact Nathan Selzer, Casa de Proyecto Libertad,
113 N. 1st St., Harlingen, TX 78550. Tel: 956-425-9552.
▼

Women’s Human Rights Step by Step: a Practical
Guide to Using International Human Rights Law and
Mechanisms to Defend Women’s Human Rights,
(1997) a publication of Women, Law, and Development
International, 1350 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 1100,
Washington, DC 20036, (202) 463-7477, www.wld.org.
A basic guide to human rights mechanisms and strategies and how to use them to uphold women’s human
rights. Copies of the guide are available from Women
Ink, 777 U.N. Plaza, New York, NY 10017, (212) 6878633 or by email at wink@womenink.org, website:
www.womenink.org.

▼

Ripple on Still Water: Reflections by Activists on Local
and National Level Work on Economic, Social, and
Cultural Rights, written by Dana Buhl for the
International Human Rights Internship
Program/Institute for International Education, 1400 K
St., NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 3267725, www.iie.org. The book is available on-line from
the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library at
www.1umn.edu/human/rts/edumat/HRIP/ripple.

▼

Video for Change: A Practical Guide for Activists,
(August 2000), A guide for activists interested in using
video documentation for their social justice work. The
guide is available on-line from WITNESS, 353
Broadway, New York, NY 10013, (212) 274-1664,
www.witness.org.

Behind Every Abuse There is a Community, 2001.
Available from the Border Network for Human Rights,
611 Kansas St., El Paso, TX 79901. Telephone: (915)
577-0724.

International organizations:
▼
Human Rights Watch publishes a comprehensive
series of reports documenting human rights abuses
around the world, including the United States,
www.hrw.org.
▼

Amnesty International has produced reports that document human rights abuses in the United States and
internationally. For Amnesty International USA, visit
www.aiusa.org.

▼

International Human Rights Law Group, publishes
reports and training manuals addressing human rights
abuses around the world, including in the United
States. For responses to the U.S. “War on Terrorism”
see the Law Group’s: “Statement of Principles
Regarding Constitutional Law Enforcement” (2002)
and “Liberties Lost in the Hunt for Terrorists: Why We
should Care” (2002). Both documents are on the Law
Group’s website. The Law Group can be reached at
1200 18th St., NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC 20036,
(202) 822-4600 or on their website at www.hrlawgroup.org.

Global Child Survival: A Human Rights Priority, a comparative study of child mortality from a human rights
point of view with a chapter on the United States. The
Study available from Minnesota Advocates for Human
rights, 310 Fourth Ave. South, Suite 1000, Minneapolis,
MN 55415, (612) 341-3302, mnadvocates@igc.apc.org.

The U.S. government is
notorious for disregarding
international human rights
laws —particularly when it
comes to its own actions.

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C R E AT I N G H U M A N R I G H T S P O LI C I E S
The U.S. government is notorious for disregarding international human rights laws—particularly when it
comes to its own actions. Claiming that the U.S. system of Constitutional rights removes the need to observe
human rights, many policy makers dismiss and actively block the use of human rights language and standards in federal and state legislation. Human rights activists working through policy channels thus face a
double challenge: to take positions on unpopular policies affecting vulnerable communities and at the same
time to argue for the relevance of human rights with officials who are often unfamiliar with or opposed to the
domestic application of international standards.
Much current U.S. human rights policy work focuses on foreign rather than domestic policy and is carried out
largely by international human rights organizations based in the United States, rather than by local or national
groups. This foreign policy work is crucial, for example, to evaluating U.S. actions post September 11th. More recently human rights analysis has begun to inform domestic policy work. Groups working on everything from race/
gender discrimination, to incarceration, to welfare policy are using the framework of human rights to assess the
cause and effect of federal and state policies in these areas and to argue for alternatives. Some examples include:
■
The use by activists in states and cities across the United States of the conventions on the elimination of race and gender discrimination to critique existing anti-discrimination law and practice and
introduce alternatives. In the city of San Francisco for example, the race and gender conventions
were adopted as law governing city anti-discrimination policy and brought about a more proactive
and coherent approach to the elimination of discrimination. This effort is now being replicated in
other municipalities including New York City.
■
In states across the country, anti-death penalty advocates are seeking to shape criminal justice policy by
using human rights, largely through the adoption of moratoriums on juvenile and other executions. In
the state of Indiana for example in 2002, anti-death penalty advocates led a successful effort to pass legislation banning the execution of juvenile offenders. The legislation’s primary sponsor repeatedly highlighted that the United States was one of only a few countries known to execute juvenile offenders and
that the U.S. government banned the practice for federal offenses. Organizers used this information to
drive home the point that Indiana was out of step with the rest of the world and with the U.S. Congress.
■
For more than a decade women’s and prisoner’s rights activists in states across the United States have
been combating sexual abuse of women in custody. A report by the National Women’s Law Center in 1994,

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and one by Amnesty International in 2000 revealed that many U.S. states had weak policies governing custodial sexual contact and that 13 states had no law whatsoever prohibiting such abuse. As a result of a
national campaign spearheaded by Amnesty International USA and a broad coalition of community
groups, 11 of those 13 states now have laws that criminalize sexual contact between officers and prisoners.
A much larger number have reformed existing laws and practices against the framework of human rights
protections in this area, including with respect to the guarding of prisoners by officers of the same sex.
As attention to the implications of a human rights approach to domestic policy increases, it will be necessary
to keep in mind the foreign policy dimension of domestic issues as well, and to endeavor to make sure that
human rights activists working at either or both levels reinforce one another.
Analyzing U.S. domestic policy through a human rights lens is not easy. Community-based activists at the forefront of the U.S. human rights movement do not always focus on federal policy, and policy advocates usually have
had very little exposure to human rights. Moreover the U.S. Congress has – up to this point at least – demonstrated
a consistent resistance to the domestic application of human rights. A systematic educational and organizing campaign is essential if policy advocates are ever meaningfully to shape U.S. policy to accord with human rights.
Despite these obstacles — which are considerable – existing U.S. human rights policy advocacy has produced some promising results. Here are some suggested strategies:

Strategies:
■

■

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■

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■

Convene local activists to analyze a given state or city policy and identify a set of remedies (in human
rights terms);
Develop human rights policy advocacy campaigns drawing on the successful efforts around the local
adoption of the race and gender conventions or the anti-death penalty moratoriums;
Reach out to national organizations about the potential relevance of human rights to the issues on
which they work;
Press to your senators for United States ratification of international human rights treaties; and
Provide a resource kit to advocates which contains the human rights tools, information, and organizations that could help advance policy work in their area.

A C A S E I N P O I N T: M D R I
Established in 1993, Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) documents conditions, publishes reports on human rights
enforcement, and promotes international oversight of the rights of people with mental disabilities. Drawing on the skills and
experience of attorneys, mental health professionals, human rights advocates, people with mental disabilities and their family
members, MDRI trains and supports advocates seeking legal and service system reform and assists governments to develop
laws and policies to promote community integration and human rights enforcement for people with mental disabilities.
Many of the projects and reports initiated by MDRI have focused on the treatment of people with mental disabilities in other
countries. Recently however, MDRI has begun to work collaboratively with domestic mental disability advocacy organizations
to monitor and critique U.S. foreign policy regarding relations with other nations and their commitment to addressing discrimination and abuse of persons with mental disabilities. In particular, MDRI has worked to change the U.S. State Department’s
annual assessment of human rights abuses in other countries to include coverage of governmental responsibility for the care
and protection of persons with mental disabilities. Additionally, MDRI works to educate domestic mental disability advocacy
organizations about the proposed International Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities and the role of the

5 2

U.S. government in the process of drafting and ratifying this document. For more information contact: Mental Disability Rights
International, 1156 15th St., NW, Suite 1001, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 296-0800, www.mdri.org.

Resources

CREATING

HUMAN

RIGHTS

F O R I N F O R M AT I O N A B O U T L O C A L E F F O R T S
T O P A S S C E D AW / C E R D L E G I S L AT I O N
▼

Women’s Institute for Leadership Development
(WILD), For information about the successful effort to
pass local CEDAW/CERD legislation in San Francisco
contact WILD at 1375 Sutter St., Suite 407, San
Francisco, CA 94109, (415) 345-1195, or at their website
www.wildforhumanrights.org.

▼

NOW Legal Defense Fund (NOW LDEF), For information about current efforts to pass local New York City
CEDAW legislation contact NOW LDEF at 395 Hudson
St., New York, NY 10014, (212) 925-6635, or at their
website www.nowldef.org, the Urban Justice CenterHuman Rights Project, 666 Broadway, 10th floor, New
York, NY 10012, (646) 602-5630,
www.urbanjustice.org, or the Human Rights Institute
at Columbia University Law School, 435 W. 116th St., B28, New York, NY 10027, (212) 854-0706.

POLICIES

▼

Abuse of Women in Custody: Sexual Misconduct and
Shackeling of Pregnant Women, A State-by-State
Survey of Policies and Practices in the United States,
This report, which includes the current state of legislative efforts across the United States, is available from
Amnesty International, USA, 322 8th Ave, New York,
NY 10001, (212) 807-8400, www.amnestyusa.org/
women/custody/.

▼

Moratorium Campaign, The Campaign’s website has
information and links to state and local legislation and
campaigns regarding the death penalty. For legislative
information visit their website and go to the legislation
section. Contact the Campaign at P.O. Box 13727, New
Orleans, LA 70185, (504) 864-1071 or at their website
www.moratorium2000.org.

F O R I N F O R M AT I O N A B O U T S TAT E
L E G I S L AT I V E E F F O R T S :

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
(NCADP), The NCADP’s website has information and
links to state and local legislation and campaigns
regarding the death penalty. For legislative information
visit their website and go to the Legislative Action
Center section. Contact the NCADP at 920
Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington, DC 20003, (202)
543-9577 or at www.ncadp.org.

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▼

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...lawyers need to use their
legal skills outside the
courtroom to assist in
organizing, education, documentation, and policy and
legal advocacy.

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U S I N G H U M A N RI G H T S LAW

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The use of the law is a crucial part of the domestic human rights movement, but the law alone is insufficient to realize human rights in the United States. In addition to developing a long-term strategy
aimed at legal enforcement of human rights standards in the United States, lawyers need to use their
human rights skills outside the courtroom to assist in organizing, education, documentation, and policy and legal advocacy. Legal human rights discourse can play a key role in changing public attitudes
and perceptions about the applicability of human rights to U.S. work. At the same time, community
activism and organizing can both create political pressure to influence legal and policy outcomes and
assure that organized communities are in place so that legal victories are not short-lived.
Primary legal avenues for human rights implementation in the United States include introducing
human rights into domestic litigation strategies and using international and regional forums to pressure the United States to comply with international human rights obligations.
Lawyers can take several approaches when using human rights in domestic litigation. The Alien Tort
Claims Act (ATCA) allows non-U.S. citizens to sue in the U.S. courts for violations of international law.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has used ATCA to bring cases against U.S. companies for human
rights violations committed in other countries. The Rutgers University Law School Clinic has also used
ATCA to bring suit on behalf of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detainees challenging
the conditions of their confinement in INS detention centers, arguing that the treatment of these prisoners is cruel and inhuman.
Lawyers can also use international human rights law to help interpret U.S. law. Legal arguments can
be made to challenge practices, like the execution of juveniles, that “violate evolving standards of
decency” as defined at least in part by the practices of the international community. Examples of this
type of intervention include using international standards to interpret the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and inhuman treatment or using the race and women’s conventions to shape government obligations with respect to the elimination of discrimination. International law was also recog-

Photo by Hisham F. Ibrahim/Getty Images

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nized in the majority opinion in the sodomy statute case, Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102. Written by
Justice Kennedy this opinion cited the 1981 decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which
struck down remaining European sodomy statutes.
International and regional forums, like U.N. treaty body committees and the Organization of American
States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, are another avenue available to the U.S. legal
community to raise human rights claims with respect to domestic human rights abuse. The U.S. government has reporting requirements to committees that oversee compliance with international
treaties. These committees issue reports and review complaints and can be highly visible venues for
bringing attention to human rights violations. U.S. advocates affiliated with the Western Shoshone
Defense Project and the Indian Law Resource Center, for example, appeared before the committee that
oversees the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to protest
the taking of Indian lands. Similarly, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty submitted a
report to the same committee highlighting the racial disparities in capital sentencing in the United
States. In both instances, the CERD committee issued remarks condemning the actions of the U.S.
government and suggesting specific remedies.
Among the challenges faced by human rights litigators in the United States is the fact that the government has attached conditions to its treaty ratifications that significantly limit its obligations, including
a reservation stating that the treaties do not automatically have the force of law in the United States.
The current judicial environment also makes it difficult to successfully bring human rights claims.
Some notable exceptions include the dissenting opinions in the University of Michigan admission
cases, Gratz v. Bollinger, No. 02-516 and Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 02-241, both written by Justice Ginsburg
and citing both the Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. There is a pressing
need for legal education and training in human rights because many lawyers and judges are unfamiliar
with the international law standards and system.
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Strategies:
Effective strategies for incorporating human rights into legal work include:
E D U C AT I O N / T R A I N I N G
■

■

■

■

■

■

Create human rights trainings available to a broad spectrum of lawyers (including public defenders
and legal aid attorneys) in the form of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes. CLE classes,
which are mandatory for all attorneys, could be an effective avenue to familiarize attorneys with
the discourse of human rights;
Begin a dialogue with judges who are interested in human rights issues with the eventual goal of
providing training for judges;
Work with state bar associations and other legal organizations to familiarize them with basic fundamentals of international human rights law and principals;
Make an effort to utilize the discourse of human rights in public speeches, discussions, presentations, writings, etc. Simply using the language of human rights can have an effect in making the
terminology more commonly used and understood;
Work to create a specific human rights focus geared toward training new and developing lawyers
through the creation of internships, mentoring programs, and clinical work in law schools, classes
taught from the “traditional civil rights” perspective need to more consistently introduce human
rights paradigm where appropriate; and
Foster legal scholarships in support of the domestic application of human rights.

L I T I G AT I O N
■

■

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■

■

Develop a common long-term legal strategy and carefully choose cases to build precedents applying international human rights law in the United States;
Explore key legal issues and potential causes of action from a human rights perspective;
Identify good test cases for domestic implementation of international human rights principles;
and
Expand forums for discussing human rights cases among lawyers, judges, academics and
advocates.

N E T W O R K I N G A N D C O L L A B O R AT I O N
■

■

■

Build coalitions and networks with community groups, and other grassroots organizations that are
currently doing human rights related work;
Develop ties to legal and community/grassroots organizations in other countries, given the overwhelming international consensus regarding many of the most important human rights laws and
principles; and
Continue to pressure the U.S. government to remove many of the reservations it has attached to
international human rights treaties and encourage the meaningful ratification of international
treaties that the United States has currently not signed and/or ratified.

A C A S E I N P O I N T: U S I N G H U M A N R I G H T S L AW I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S
In 1998, the Human Rights Institute (HRI), located at Columbia University Law School, created the Bringing
Human Rights Home Lawyers’ Network. The Network facilitates dialogue between domestic human rights advocates to develop new models of advocacy which include legal strategies that advance human rights implementation
in the United States. The Network provides a forum for experienced public interest lawyers to learn about new
human rights strategies, to collaborate with students and other attorneys, and to develop new models of legal
advocacy. The Network’s Human Rights Online is a website database created in collaboration with the online public interest legal community probono.net, that supports lawyers who want to make domestic human rights arguments in court. The database includes: 1) briefs, 2) pleadings (complaints), 3) articles (law reviews and other articles), and 4) links to United Nations’ and other international and regional documents.
One legal case brought by a Network member, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), (Turkmen vs. Ashcroft) is a federal civil suit that charges the U.S. government with arbitrary detention and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of
Muslim non-citizens from the Middle East and South Asia who were detained post 9/11 and who, despite having received
final deportation orders or grants of voluntary departure, remained in INS custody far beyond the period necessary to
secure their removal. CCR attorneys continue to consult with Network members to request feedback and ideas regarding
the use of human rights standards in their legal arguments and the use of international human rights mechanisms to

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pursue these claims. For more information contact: Cindy Soohoo at the Bringing Human Rights Lawyers’ Network,
Human Rights Institute, Columbia University Law School, 435 W. 116th St, B-28, New York, NY 10027, (212) 854-0706.

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Resources

USING

THE

LAW

GENERAL
▼

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▼

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Human Rights Online, www.probono.net/humanrights, a website for participants in Columbia
University’s “Bringing Human Rights Home” project. The website includes legal tools to support the
work of attorneys who are using or are interested in
using human rights standards in domestic legal
cases. The website includes model briefs, pleadings, and other resources which are shared on the
site through a brief bank, online library, bulletin
board and chat space to assist in developing legal
strategies for “bringing human rights home.” There
are currently 60 members to the website. If you are
interested in joining you must fill out an initial
application which can be found on the website.
Human and Constitutional Rights Resource website,
www.hrcr.org/, a website for rights resources administered by the Columbia University Law School
Library.

▼

Bibliography on International Human Rights and
US Constitutional Rights Law: Available online at
Fordham University Law School’s Crowley Human
Rights Program at
http://law.fordham.edu/crowley.html.

▼

ACLU International Civil Liberties Reporter, this
annual report compiles articles discussing key
developments in human rights law,
www.aclu.org/International.

Commission to protect the rights of Guantanamo
Bay detainees under Article 25 of the Commission’s
regulations. This case can be found at the Human
Rights Online library on their website,
www.probono.net/humanrights/.
FOR SAMPLE HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINTS
IN U.S. COURTS:
▼

Jama v. United States, 22 F. Supp. 2d 353 (D.N.J.
1998), This case, which relies on the Alien Tort
Claims Act, was brought on behalf of Immigration
and Naturalization Service detainees alleging that
the conditions of their confinement violated international standards prohibiting cruel, inhuman, and
degrading treatment. This case can be found at the
Human Rights Online library at:
www.probono.net/humanrights/.

▼

Nicholson v. Williams, 203 F. Supp. 2d 153 (E.D.N.Y.
2002), This decision granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting the removal of children from their
mothers’ custody on the grounds that the mothers
were victims of abuse, notes that the U.S.’s international law obligations require extreme care when
making decisions that could threaten the right to
family integrity. This case can be found at the
Human Rights Online library on their website,
www.probono.net/humanrights/.

FOR SAMPLE AMICI BRIEFS IN U.S. COURTS:
▼

Brief of Amici Curiae in Lawrence v. Texas, No. 02-102
filed by Mary Robinson, Amnesty International, USA,
Human Rights Watch, Interights, Lawyers
Committee for Human Rights, Minnesota Advocates
for Human Rights, Brief is available on the website
of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights,
www.lchr.org/international_justice/various/lawrence.
pdf. The Lawyers Committee can be reached at 333
7th Ave., 13th floor, New York, NY 10001.

▼

Napoleon Beazley v. Gary Johnson, Brief of Amici
Curiae in Support of Petitioner (2001) (filed by
Constance de la Vega, counsel of record, in the
United States Supreme Court on behalf of Human
Rights Advocates, Human Rights Watch, Minnesota
Advocates for Human Rights, and Human Rights
Committee of the Bar of England and Wales).
Available from Constance De La Vega, University of
San Francisco Law Clinic, 2130 Fulton Street, San
Francisco, CA 94117, and reprinted with modification
in 42 Santa Clara L. Rev. 1041 (2002). This law
review article can also be found at
www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/ConniedelaVega.pdf.

S A M P L E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C O M P L A I N T S :
▼

▼

Mexico v. the United States, International Court of
Justice (ICJ), this case was brought by Mexico
against the United States in the International Court
of Justice for violations of Article 5 and 36 of the
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations with
respect to 54 Mexican nationals who have been sentenced to death in ten states. Mexico has requested
provisional measures necessary to ensure that no
Mexican national be executed and that no execution
dates be set for any Mexican national. This case
and a link to the ICJ can be found at the Human
Rights Online library on their website,
www.probono.net/humanrights/.
Request for Precautionary Measures on behalf of
the Guantanamo Bay Detainees, This request submitted to the Inter-American Commission of
Human Rights by the Center for Constitutional
Rights, the Human Rights Clinic of Columbia Law
School, and the Center for Justice and International
Law. The request seeks the intervention of the

Resources
▼

USING

THE

LAW

McCarver v. North Carolina, Brief of Amicus Curiae
in Support of Petitioner, (2000) (filed by Rick
Wilson, counsel of record, in the United States
Supreme Court on behalf of the European Union).
This brief addresses the execution of the accused,
who is mentally retarded. The McCarver case was
made moot by the North Carolina legislature which
passed legislation banning execution of the mentally
retarded. This same brief was also filed on behalf of
Daryl Atkins in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court
decision which eliminated execution of the mentally
retarded nation-wide. The brief can be found at:
www.internationaljusticeproject.org/pdfs/emccarver.pdf.

F O R T R A I N I N G S F O R L AW Y E R S O N H U M A N
R I G H T S T R E AT I E S , L AW S A N D O R G A N I Z I N G
S T R AT E G I E S :

Human Rights at Home: International Law in U.S.
Courts, The American Civil Liberties Union will provide a national training conference for lawyers
October 10 & 11, 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference will familiarize lawyers and advocates with
international human rights treaties, laws and organizing strategies that can strengthen domestic social
justice work. Continuing Legal Education credit will
be offered. Travel and accommodation scholarships
are available on a needs basis. For more information contact Lydia Milnes at (212) 519-7815 or
lmilnes@aclu.org. For preliminary program schedule see www.aclu.org/Files/OpenFile.cfm?id=12220.

NOTE: Information on international and regional
human rights treaties can be found in Appendix B.

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▼

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Much more could be done
to bridge the theory/
practice divide and make the
academy more supportive of
and useful to the human
rights movement.

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HUMAN RIGHTS SCHOLARSHIP

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Human rights scholarship ranges from traditional written scholarly pieces examining human rights theories
and doctrines to music and other cultural productions used for the purposes of popular human rights education. Such scholarship is produced in criminal justice, economics, ethnic studies, history, international
affairs, philosophy, women’s and gender studies departments, as well as schools of law and public health. It
is also produced in the streets, kitchens, churches, offices, meeting halls, and courtrooms of the frontline
struggle for human rights.
Key issues for U.S. human rights scholarship include the relationship between the academy and the movement; the marginalization of human rights scholarship within academic circles; and the resistance to crossdisciplinary work that human rights scholarship encounters. Much more could be done to bridge the theory/practice divide and make the academy more supportive of and useful to the human rights movement.
Human rights scholars, however, may find that doing human rights work and being taken seriously as an
academic are mutually exclusive. They often face the “suicidal choice” of either remaining focused on social
justice work, thereby risking professional derailment, or moving smoothly along the tenure track by producing “acceptable” scholarship and neglecting their human rights interests. Such choices are further complicated by the fact that human rights scholarship often involves negotiating across multiple disciplines simultaneously and necessarily involves the use of rights language at a moment when leftist scholarship increasingly questions the legitimacy of rights-talk.
Since the mid-1990’s, numerous conservative scholars have written and published articles attacking the
legitimacy of human rights law in U.S. courts. While these articles often run counter to established precedent, the executive branch and an increasingly conservative judiciary frequently rely on the conservative
scholar’s arguments to re-examine and undermine the domestic use of international law. Progressive
human rights scholars can play a key role in challenging such conservative trends and develop and reinforce
the theoretical underpinnings of existing affirmative precedent concerning the role of international law in
U.S. courts.

Summit participants Tonya McClary, Sherry Wilson, and Jaribu Hill

Strategies:
■

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■

■

■

Help open academic institutions to non-academic human rights scholars and other activists who want
to spend time thinking about their work in ways that the crush of day-to-day activity usually will not permit them to do;
Change models of pedagogy to make organizing activities part of academic training, where students
become engaged in movement work as part of the requirements for receiving academic credit;
Hold multidisciplinary meetings focusing on specific case studies of human rights work to determine
how to improve the ways people work together across both disciplines and the “theory/practice” divide;
and
Host academic conferences focused on the application of human rights in the United States and support the generation of related scholarship within the academy.

Resources
(See select bibliography at Appendix C)

A C A S E I N P O I N T: T H E H O W A R D L A W J O U R N A L
The Howard Law Journal consistently publishes articles that address human rights as a domestic issue. One example of
this commitment is the spring of 1997 edition of the Journal which addressed the U.S. government’s compliance with the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Publication of this edition of the journal
was meant to coincide with the expected release of the United States government’s report to the CERD committee on its
record of compliance with the treaty. The editors envisioned the journal and the symposium that preceded it as a “shadow” report to the reporting of the government regarding the state of racial discrimination in the United States. The symposium and journal also highlighted the historic engagement of African-Americans with the United Nations and other
international bodies toward the goal of holding the U.S. government accountable for ensuring the fulfillment of human
rights for racial minorities. Howard Law Journal, Spring 1997. For more information visit the law journal website:
www.law.howard.edu/student-org/lawjournal.
6 1

The cause of freedom is not
the cause of a race or a sect,
a party or a class—it is the
cause of human kind, the
very birthright of humanity.
Anna Julia Cooper, 1892

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Section IV:

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C H A L L E N G E S ,

N E E D S

A N D

P R I O R I T I E S

The Second Leadership Summit on Human Rights in the United States enabled U.S. activists working
on different issues with various methods to come together and begin to interconnect their activism
using the common framework of human rights. This is easier said than done. The highly fractured
state of the U.S. domestic rights movements, the age old competition for resources and the existence
of profound political and strategic differences all pose a significant challenge to the collaborative spirit
needed to build a U.S. human rights movement. This challenge is exacerbated by the U.S. activists’ relative unfamiliarity with the human rights framework and its long association either with other countries or with U.S.-based international organizations that have had little sustained connection to domestic rights advocacy.
Even a relatively brief attempt, like the Howard Summit, to foster collaboration amongst U.S. activists
within the framework of human rights exposes a significant amount of tension both substantively and
methodologically. With respect to the former, participants noted the tensions, for example, between sentencing reform work and anti-death penalty advocacy that promotes the alternative of life without parole;
or the tension between the promotion of individual versus collective rights. With respect to the latter,
the conference participants highlighted conflicts, for example, between popular and elite advocacy
strategies and activists; between cross-constituency and single identity work; and between what activists
preach about human rights and what we practice, particularly with regard to equality, transparency and
accountability.
This list of examples is not exhaustive, nor are such complexities easily or, in some cases, ever
resolved. In fact, the ongoing existence of creative tensions between advocates is central to the collaborative process and its potential to generate an alternative vision of rights work in the United States.
Perhaps this accounts for the great appeal of the human rights approach: it allows for enormous variety in terms of analysis and focus while rooting this diversity in the common ground of the language,
standards, strategies and, most important, values associated with fundamental human rights.

Photo by Harvey Finkle

As the Howard Summit participants evaluated their efforts to re-frame and carry out their U.S. work in
human rights terms, a range of specific needs and several common priorities emerged. These are summarized below:

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ISSUE/METHOD SPECIFIC NEEDS
With respect to U.S. human rights work on the death penalty, discrimination, immigration, incarceration, poverty and sovereignty, for example, several specific needs were highlighted. These included:
■
Timelier and steadier insertion of human rights arguments into death penalty cases, including at
the state level;
■
Increased use of the U.N. Conventions on race and gender discrimination in domestic equality work;
■
Promotion of human rights vision and analysis in immigration and refugee work inside the United
States;
■
More critical and engaged use of human rights in U.S. criminal justice work;
■
Sharper definition of poverty as a human rights violation in order to strengthen the advocacy focus
on prevention; and
■
Greater sensitization of the human rights community to the concerns of the indigenous community and greater links between the two.
With respect to U.S. human rights education, organizing, documentation, policy advocacy, legal reform
and scholarship, for example, specific needs included:
■
Greater use of human rights education as an organizing tool;
■
Expanded resources to community-based organizing;
■
Increased capacity for U.S. groups to conduct participatory human rights documentation, including through non-traditional means, like video;
■
More thorough use of human rights to analyze and shape U.S. rights policy, foreign and domestic,
particularly post 9/11;
■
Additional training for U.S. lawyers, and young lawyers in particular, in the use of human rights; and
■
Increased multi-disciplinary human rights scholarship focused on the United States.
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C O M M O N

P R I O R I T I E S

As the Summit participants assessed their progress and identified specific needs, several common
priorities emerged. These included:

Ongoing Collaborative Work
Every single working group at the Howard Summit acknowledged that human rights activism in the
United States is taking place at multiple levels, on different issues, using various strategies simultaneously. Virtually without exception, the participants shared a determination to work more collaboratively, both to strengthen their individual advocacy and to increase the impact of U.S. human rights work
overall. In identifying greater collaboration as a priority, participants highlighted the need to develop a
collective, alternative vision of rights in the United States expressly framed in human rights terms, to
identify and resolve conflicts and inconsistencies in ongoing advocacy and to greatly increase overall
visibility.

Advanced Communications and Media Strategy
Throughout the Howard planning process and the meeting itself, attention was consistently paid to
the need for U.S. human rights groups to develop a much more sophisticated and creative communications strategy, particularly through concerted work on messaging, dedicated media training and the
strategic use of information technology. Aside from developing their own capacity in this area, a clear,
common commitment also emerged to do more media education and outreach, particularly with alternative media in the print and broadcast arenas.

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Increased Leadership, Institutional and Technical Capacity

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Although participants identified a range of different concerns in this area, they shared a common commitment to the leadership and participation of those most affected in U.S. human rights work.
Additionally, they shared the commitment to increase outreach to youth groups and to enhance youth
leadership in the U.S. human rights movement. A pressing need exists to develop inter-generational
leadership strategies, to address the institutional fragility of many U.S. human rights groups and to
undertake training across the board in human rights history, standards, mechanisms, methodologies,
strategies and pedagogy.

Resources
Most U.S. human rights activists are currently doing their work with very limited resources and will
continue to do that work even if available resources do not increase. As one participant put it, “this is
not about compensation, it’s about commitment,” a view that was endorsed by the summit more generally. This is not to suggest the burgeoning U.S. human rights movement does not see greater
resources as a crucial need. It does. But that need is filtered through the human rights lens itself,
and prioritizes the effort to reach underserved community-based groups, emergent human rights programs within more established U.S. organizations and nascent collaborative work. It also sees donors
as partners rather than merely benefactors of this work, particularly as support for U.S. human rights
activism often requires funders to re-examine the splits between international and domestic rights
funding that is common to many of their own programs.

Without concerned citizen
action to uphold [universal
rights] close to home, we
shall look in vain for progress
in the larger world.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Section V:

N E X T

S T E P S

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Collaborative Action: Founding of U.S. Human Rights Network
While many specific next steps were identified with respect to different issue areas and methods of work, the
Howard Summit generated overwhelming interest in strengthening collaborative action and working together to build the U.S. human rights movement. As the participants met in plenary on the final day of the conference, July 13, 2002, to review their work, an unexpected and energized interest in continuing to work
together emerged. By that session’s close the Howard participants had taken the historic decision to found
the first ever national network on human rights in the United States.
In the months between July 2002 and the publication of this resource guide, the Howard participants, operating in twelve working groups organized by issue area and method of work, voted to establish the U.S. Human
Rights Network, identified a 12-person coordinating committee drawn from the working groups and selected a
three-person administrative body. In the coming months, the Network will work to create links between U.S.
human rights activists through a series of meetings, conference calls, trainings, list serves, and a website.
For more information about the U.S. Human Rights Network, visit their website at www.ushrnetwork.org or
email them at info@ushrnetwork.org.

Issue/Method Specific Work
In addition to resolving as a group to found the U.S. Human Rights Network, the Howard participants
agreed to specific next steps with respect to their particular issue areas/method of work. These included:
ISSUE AREAS
Death Penalty:

develop a law school clinic consortium to help insert human rights arguments into death
penalty cases, including at the state level;

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Discrimination:

Immigration:
Incarceration:
Poverty:

Sovereignty:

initiate a youth rights campaign with a focus on the race and children’s rights conventions
and produce a shadow report to the next U.S. government report on its compliance with
the race convention;
hold human rights tribunals on immigrant and refugee rights post 9/11
develop an economic rights analysis of the consequences of involvement with the criminal
justice system;
conduct an assessment of the capacity of anti-poverty groups operating at the local level
and host a series of issue-specific meetings to devise alternatives to existing anti-poverty
policies framed in terms of economic, social and cultural rights; and
develop a video on human rights for use in the American Indian community and build
stronger relationships between the human rights and AI communities.

METHODS

Education:

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launch a national public education campaign on the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights;
Organizing:
develop a long-term, multi-phase networking process for U.S. human rights groups;
Documentation: produce a best practices tool kit for human rights documentation and hold a national
training session on participatory human rights documentation;
Policy advocacy: produce an analysis of US rights policy by issue area with suggested alternatives from a
human rights point of view;
Legal reform:
launch a continuing legal education (CLE) effort to expose legal practitioners to the use of
human rights and build on the existing Bringing Human Rights Home Network at
Columbia University Law School; and
Scholarship:
publish a multi-disciplinary U.S. human rights reader and host a symposium on U.S.
human rights scholarship.

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"We must love and
promulgate equality of
human rights with
everything we’ve got."
June Jordan

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Section VI:

C O N C L U S I O N
Underlying all human rights work in the United States is a commitment to challenge the pernicious
belief that the United States is inherently superior to other countries of the world, and that neither the
U.S. government nor the U.S. rights movements have anything to gain from the domestic application
of human rights. Rather, in the view of a growing number of U.S. activists, the U.S. government
should no longer be allowed to shield itself from accountability to human rights norms and the U.S.
civil, women’s, worker, immigrant, lgbt, prisoner and other rights movements stand to benefit, perhaps
now more than ever, from an end to U.S. impunity in this regard.
Such an avowedly internationalist and multi-lateralist stance has not been common to domestic rights
advocacy in the United States since the Cold War. Its current resurgence in U.S. rights work, from the
death penalty to economic justice, signals a fundamental shift in the politics of U.S. rights activism.
The current approach eschews insularity in favor of global engagement; territoriality in favor of collaboration; supremacy in favor of participation and egoism in favor of equality and dignity. Such progressive politics are not inherent in the use of a human rights approach. But a human rights approach
readily accommodates and even engenders such politics.
The resonance of human rights with progressive trends in U.S. rights work ensures its increasing relevance to domestic activists. The question we face now is less whether to adopt a human rights approach
to U.S. social and economic justice work, than where such an approach will lead us. It is still too early,
and the Howard participants too few, to say for sure. But one thing is perfectly clear: The days when
political pundits can argue that “no movement in the United States has succeeded in bringing human
rights home” are over. The movement for human rights in the United States is here and plans to stay.

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Appendix A
Appendix A

SUSAN ALVA (POLICY CAUCUS, IMMIGRATION
WORKING GROUP)

AJAMU BARAKA (ORGANIZING CAUCUS, DEATH
PENALTY WORKING GROUP)

HOWARD HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMIT PARTICIPANTS
(working group and caucus affiliations
are listed in parenthesis)

Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights of
Los Angeles

Amnesty International, USA

CATHY ALBISA (FACILITATOR POVERTY
WORKING GROUP, ORGANIZAING CAUCUS)
Center for Economic and Social Rights

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Brooklyn, NY
(718) 237-9145 ext.19
(718) 237-9147 fax
calbisa@cesr.org
www.cesr.org

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The Center for Economic and Social
Rights (CESR) was established in 1993
to promote social justice through
human rights. CESR works with social
scientists and local partners in affected
communities to document rights violations, advocate for changes in policies
that impoverish and exploit people, and
mobilize grassroots pressure for social
change. As one of the first organizations to challenge economic injustice as
a violation of international human rights
law, CESR believes that economic and
social rights — binding on all nations
— can provide a universally accepted
framework for strengthening social justice activism. CESR believes that by
engaging the US public to raise issues
of poverty and declining standards of
housing and healthcare as human rights
violations, grassroots organizations and
activists can generate new legal and
activist strategies to improve living conditions in their own communities.
PATRICIA ALLARD (DOCUMENTATION CAUCUS,
INCARCERATION WORKING GROUP)
(formerly of the) Sentencing Project

514 10th ST., NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-0871
(202) 628-1091 fax
www.sentencingproject.org
She can now be reached at:
The Brennan Center
(212) 998-6740
patricia.allard@nyu.edu

The Sentencing Project is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization which promotes
decreased reliance on incarceration and
increased use of more effective and
humane alternatives. It is a nationally
known source of criminal justice policy
analysis, data and program information.
Its reports, publications and staff are
relied upon by the public, policymakers
and the media.

1521 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 353-1339
(213) 353-1344
salva@chirla.org
www.chirla.org
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant
Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) is a
nonprofit organization founded in 1986
to advance the human and civil rights of
immigrants and refugees in Los
Angeles. As a multiethnic coalition of
community organizations and individuals, CHIRLA aims to foster greater
understanding of the issues that affect
immigrant communities, provide a neutral forum for discussion, and unite
immigrant groups to more effectively
advocate for positive change.

131 Ponce De Leon Ave., NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 876-5661
(404) 876-2661 fax
ajbaraka@aiusa.org
Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty
International is a Nobel Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with
over one million members worldwide.
Amnesty International is dedicated to
freeing prisoners of conscience, gaining
fair trials for political prisoners, ending
torture, political killings and “disappearances,” and abolishing the death penalty
throughout the world. Amnesty
International USA (AIUSA) is the U.S.
Section of Amnesty International.
ANN BEESON (LEGAL CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
American Civil Liberties Union

SANDRA BABCOCK (LEGAL CAUCUS, DEATH
PENALTY WORKING GROUP)
Babcock Law Offices

2520 Park Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(612) 871-5080
sandrababcock@earthlink.net
Sandra Babcock is an attorney in private
practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who
specializes in international criminal law.
She is the Director of the Mexican
Capital Legal Assistance Program, a pioneering project funded by the
Government of Mexico to assist its
nationals in capital cases at trial and on
appeal. Through this Program, she has
provided litigation support to attorneys
in over 65 capital cases involving
Mexican nationals, and routinely
appears as Mexico’s counsel in state
and federal courts around the country.
RADHIKA BALAKRISHNA (SCHOLARSHIP
CAUCUS, POVERTY WORKING GROUP)
Marymount Manhattan College

221 E. 71st St.
New York, NY 10021
(212) 774-4842
(212) 517-0528
rbalakra@igc.org

125 Broad St., 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10004
(212) 549-2601
(212) 549-2651 fax
abeeson@aclu.org
www.aclu.org
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) works daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and
preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this
country by the Constitution and laws of
the United States. Since its founding in
1920, the nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU
has grown from a roomful of civil liberties activists to an organization of nearly
300,000 members and supporters, with
offices in almost every state. The ACLU
has also maintained, since its founding,
the position that civil liberties must be
respected, even in times of national
emergency. In support of that position,
the ACLU has appeared before the
Supreme Court and other federal courts
on numerous occasions, both as direct
counsel and by filing amicus briefs. The
ACLU’s mission is to fight civil liberties
violations wherever and whenever they
occur. The ACLU is also active in our
national and state capitals, fighting to
ensure that the Bill of Rights will always
be more than a “parchment barrier”
against government oppression and the
tyranny of the majority.

Appendix A
DEB BENKO (POLICY CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)

JONATHAN BLAZER (LEGAL CAUCUS, POVERTY
WORKING GROUP)

HONORABLE MARK BUTTERFIELD (POLICY
CAUCUS, SOVEREIGNTY WORKING GROUP)

(formerly of ) Mental Disability Rights
International

(formerly of ) Community Legal Services

Ho-Chunk Nation Court System

3638 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19140
(215) 227-2400
(215) 227-2435 fax
www.clsphila.org
He can now be reached at:
American Friends Service Committee
(215) 241-7100
jblazer@afsc.org

P.O. Box 70, W9598 Hwy 54 East
Black River Falls, WI 54615
(800) 434-4070
(715) 284-3136 fax
www.ho-chunknation.com

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

1156 15th St., NW
Suite 1001
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 296-0800
(202) 728-3053 fax
www.mdri.org
Mental Disability Rights International
(MDRI) is a non-governmental advocacy
organization dedicated to the recognition and enforcement of the rights of
people with mental disabilities.
Established in 1993 as a joint project of
the Bazelon Center for Mental Health
Law and American University’s Center
for Human Rights and Humanitarian
Law, MDRI documents conditions, publishes reports on human rights enforcement, and promotes international oversight of the rights of people with mental
disabilities. Drawing on the skills and
experience of attorneys, mental health
professionals, human rights advocates,
people with mental disabilities and their
family members, MDRI trains and supports advocates seeking legal and service system reform and assists governments to develop laws and policies to
promote community integration and
human rights enforcement for people
with mental disabilities.

For nearly three decades, Community
Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) has provided
the highest quality legal assistance to
the needy with the ongoing support of
the Philadelphia Bar Association and the
legal community. Our mission is to help
low-income Philadelphia residents with
legal problems by providing them with
advice and representation in civil matters. In 1999 alone, we handled over
20,000 cases. Since we opened our
doors, we have served over one million
individuals directly. This is in addition to
providing community education to
inform low-income communities about
their legal rights, policy analysis and
advocacy, and filing class action law
suits to help large numbers of poor people facing similar injustices.
WIDNEY BROWN (POLICY CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
Human Rights Watch

CHANDRA BHATNAGAR (FACILITATOR LEGAL
CAUCUS AND DISCRIMINATION WORKING
GROUP)
(formerly of ) Human Rights Institute
Columbia Univ. Law School

435 W. 116th St., B-28
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-0706
(212) 854-3554(fax)
He can now be reached at
Asian American Legal defense Fund
(212) 966-6030
cbhatnagar@aaldef.org
Founded in 1998, the Human Rights
Institute at Columbia Law School is
training the new generation of human
rights lawyers. As a crossroads for practitioners, scholars, and activists, the
Human Rights Institute (HRI) bridges
law and other disciplines; theory and
practice; international human rights and
national constitutional rights. Working
closely with a network of civil and
human rights lawyers and Columbia’s
Human Rights Clinic and Public Interest
Programs, HRI’s “Bringing Human
Rights Home” Program develops new
strategies and legal support for the
domestic implementation of international human rights standards.

350 5th Ave., 34th Fl.
New York, NY 10118
(212) 216-1257
(212) 736-1300
brownw@hrw.org
www.hrw.org
Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people
around the world. We stand with victims
and activists to prevent discrimination, to
uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime,
and to bring offenders to justice. We
investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We
challenge governments and those who
hold power to end abusive practices and
respect international human rights law.
We enlist the public and the international
community to support the cause of
human rights for all. Human Rights
Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.

The Ho Chunk People have remained and
continue to remain one of the strongest
indigenous Nations in the United States.
This is because the Elders of the Nation
are honored and their teachings have
upheld throughout history.
GRACE CHANG (SCHOLARSHIP CAUCUS,
IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP)
Evergreen State College

Olympia, WA
graceunderpresr@aol.com
Grace is a writer and activist in struggles
for immigrant rights and welfare rights for
immigrant women and women of color.
Grace was a co-editor of Mothering:
Ideology, Experience and Agency. She is
the author of Disposable Domestics:
Immigrant Women Workers in the Global
Economy (South End Press, 2000). As a
consulting researcher for the DataCenter,
she produced a report on criminal justice
reform organizing based on interviews
with CJ reform groups across the country.
Currently, she teaches courses in Ethnic
Studies, Women’s Studies, and
Globalization at Evergreen State College.
Grace works with the Movement Strategy
Center (MSC). MSC is a movement building intermediary that engages youth and
adults across issues and regions - through
a collective visioning and mapping
process that encourages collaboration and
joint strategizing in order to develop
stronger, more effective movements for
democracy, equity and social change.
NANCY CHANG (LEGAL CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
Center for Constitutional Rights

666 Broadway, 7th Fl.
New York, NY 10012
(212) 614-6420
(212) 614-6499 fax
nchang@ccr-ny.org
www.ccr-ny.org
The Center for Constitutional Rights
(CCR) is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed
by the U.S. Constitution and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
CCR uses litigation proactively to
advance the law in a positive direction,
to empower poor communities and
communities of color, to guarantee the

6 9

Appendix A
rights of those with the fewest protections and least access to legal resources,
to train the next generation of constitutional and human rights attorneys, and
to strengthen the broader movement for
constitutional and human rights.
EUNICE CHO (FACILITATOR IMMIGRATION
WORKING GROUP AND EDUCATION CAUCUS)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee
Rights

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

310 8th St., Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 465-1984 x303
(510) 465-1885 (fax)
echo@nnirr.org
www.nnirr.org

7 0

The National Network for Immigrant
and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) is a national organization composed of local coalitions and immigrant, refugee, community, religious, civil rights and labor organizations and activists. It serves as a
forum to share information and analysis,
to educate communities and the general
public, and to develop and coordinate
plans of action on important immigrant
and refugee issues. We work to promote
a just immigration and refugee policy in
the United States and to defend and
expand the rights of all immigrants and
refugees, regardless of immigration status. The National Network bases its
efforts in the principles of equality and
justice, and seeks the enfranchisement
of all immigrant and refugee communities in the United States through organizing and advocating for their full labor,
environmental, civil and human rights.
LARRY COX (POVERTY WORKING GROUP)
Ford Foundation

320 E. 43rd St.
New York, NY 10017
(212) 573-4709
(212) 351-3657
lcox@fordfound.org
www.fordfound.org
LISA CROOMS (FACILITATOR INCARCERATION
WORKING GROUP AND SCHOLARSHIP
CAUCUS)
Howard University Law School

2900 Van Ness St., NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 806-8053
(202) 806-8428 fax
lcrooms@law.howard.edu

MARTHA DAVIS (SCHOLARSHIP CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
(formerly of ) NOW Legal Defense and
Education Fund

395 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10014
(212) 925-6635
(212) 226-1066 fax
She can now be reached at:
Northeastern School of Law
(617) 373-8921
m.davis@neu.edu
Since 1970, the NOW Legal Defense and
Education Fund has been at the center of
every major social and economic justice
concern on the women’s rights agenda,
defining the issues and bringing them to
public attention. NOW Legal Defense pursues equality for women and girls in the
workplace, the schools, the family and the
courts, through litigation, education, and
public information programs. NOW Legal
Defense’s docket of 70 cases covers a wide
range of gender equity issues. NOW Legal
Defense also provides technical assistance
to Congress and state legislatures, employs
sophisticated media strategies, distributes
up-to-the-minute fact sheets, and organizes
national grassroots coalitions to promote
and sustain broad-based advocacy for
women’s equality. Established in 1970 by
the founders of the National Organization
for Women, NOW Legal Defense is a separate organization with its own mission, programs and Board of Directors.
CAROLYN H. DE LEON(ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities

2473 Valentine Ave.
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 220-7391 ext12
(718) 220-7398
chdeleon@caaav.org
www.caav.org
The Committee Against Anti-Asian
Violence (CAAAV) was started in 1986. It
has since been working with Asian communities on issues of racially motivated
violence and police brutality. CAAAV
brings together Asians of different nationalities, ethnicities and generations to
address issues of racism, anti-immigration discrimination and economic injustice. CAAAV’s most visible success has
been in assisting hundreds of victims of
anti-Asian violence over the last eight
years. In addition to this visible task of
fighting anti-Asian violence related cases,
CAAAV seeks to unite New York’s Asian
communities so as to force changes in
the police department, criminal justice
system, public policy and media representations. Further CAAAV is involved in
organizing projects with the Chinese,

Korean, South Asian and the South East
Asian immigrant communities in areas of
youth leadership and worker organizing.
TRISHALA DEB (ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP)
Audre Lorde Project

85 South Oxford St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 596-0342
(718) 596-1328 fax
tdeb@alp.org
www.alp.org
The Audre Lorde Project is a Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, Two Spirit and Transgender People
of Color center for community organizing,
focusing on the New York City area.
Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic
justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities.
KRISHANTI DHARMARAJ (FACILITATOR POLICY
CAUCUS AND SOVEREINTY WORKING GROUP)
WILD for Human Rights

1375 Sutter St., Suite 407
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 345-1195 x400
(415) 345-1199 (fax)
krishanti@wildforhumanrights.org
www.wildforhumanrights.org
WILD’s Mission is to promote human
rights through the conscious leadership
and action of women and girls. With a
vision of social and political change, we
strive to improve the conditions of
women and girls and their communities.
WILD provides human rights education,
engages in public advocacy, and collaborates on the adoption and implementation of international human rights standards in the United States. WILD was
founded in June 1996, after the 1995
United Nations Fourth World
Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
DAZON DIXON DIALLO (EDUCATION CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
SisterLove, Inc.

PO Box 10558
Atlanta, GA 30310
(404) 753-7733
(404) 753-1500 fax
ddiallo@sisterlove.org
www.sisterlove.org
SisterLove is on a mission to eradicate
the impact of HIV/AIDS and other
reproductive health challenges upon
women and their families through education, prevention, support and human
rights advocacy in the United States and
around the world.

Appendix A
CHRIS FORD (ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP)
Border Action Network (formerly the SW
Alliance to Resist Militarization)

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

P.O. Box 384
Tucson, AZ 85702
(520) 623-4944
(520) 792-2097 fax
cford@borderaction.org
www.borderaction.org.
Border Action Network formed in May of
1999 on the second anniversary of the
murder of 18-year-old Esequiel
Hernandez. While herding his family’s
goats outside Redford, Texas, Esequiel
was shot in the back by a group of young
Marines on a Joint Task Force-6 (JTF-6)
mission. The Marines shot Esequiel only
a few hundred yards from his home and
made no attempt to provide first aid as
he bled to death. Since 1995, over 2000
people have died attempting to cross the
US-Mexico border. Border Action
Network was created by and consists of
activists and organizers from the environmental, human rights, labor, and social
justice movements who came together to
oppose military and Border Patrol expansions on the border and to hold them
accountable to the public. We see ourselves as a “new generation” of activists
who believe in the importance of multiissue organizing and coalition building.
SUE GUNAWARDENA-VAUGHN (DOCUMENTATION
CAUCUS, DEATH PENALTY WORKING GROUP)
Amnesty International, Project to Abolish the
Death Penalty

600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 544-0200 ext 238
(202) 546-7142 fax
svaughn@aiusa.org
www.aiusa.org
See information above

RICK HALPERIN (EDUCATION CAUCUS, DEATH
PENALTY WORKING GROUP)
Amnesty International & TX Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty

SMU PO Box 750172
3116 Fondren Dr.
Dallas, TX 75275
(214) 768-3284
(214) 768-3475 fax
rhalperi@mail.smu.edu
http://web.cis.smu.edu/~deathpen
The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty (TCADP) is a grassroots Texas
organization comprised of individuals
and groups who work to end the death
penalty in all cases, everywhere. We are
an inclusive organization composed of

human rights activists; death row prisoners and their families; crime victims and
their families; persons working within the
criminal justice system; persons opposed
to capital punishment on religious and
moral grounds; and other concerned citizens opposed to capital punishment.
STEVE HAWKINS (FACILITATOR DEATH PENALTY
WORKING GROUP AND DOCUMENTATION
CAUCUS)
(formerly of the) National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty

920 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202)543-9577
(202) 543-7798 fax
shawkins@ncadp.org
www.ncadp.org
He can now be reached at:
Jeht Foundation
(212) 965-0400
shawkins@jehtfoundation.org
Since its inception in 1976, the National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
(NCADP) has been the only fully staffed
national organization exclusively devoted
to abolishing capital punishment. NCADP
provides information, advocates for public
policy, and mobilizes and supports individuals and institutions that share our unconditional rejection of capital punishment.
Our commitment to abolition of the death
penalty is rooted in several critical concerns. First and foremost, the death penalty devalues all human life—eliminating the
possibility for transformation of spirit that
is intrinsic to humanity. Secondly, the
death penalty is fallible and irrevocable—
nearly one hundred people have been
released from death row on grounds of
innocence in this “modern era” of capital
punishment. Thirdly, the death penalty
continues to be tainted with race and class
bias. It is overwhelmingly a punishment
reserved for the poor (95% of the over
3700 people under death sentence could
not afford a private attorney) and for racial
minorities (55% are people of color).
Finally, the death penalty is a violation of
our most fundamental human rights—
indeed, the United States is the only western democracy that still uses the death
penalty as a form of punishment.
JARIBU HILL (FACILITATOR DISCRIMINATION
WORKING GROUP AND LEGAL CAUCUS)
Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights

213 Main St.
Greenville, MS 38701
(662) 334-1122
(662) 334-1274 fax
rightsms@bellsouth.net
The Mississippi Workers’ Center for
Human Rights, founded in December,

1996 in Oxford, Mississippi) is a non-profit
worker advocacy organization that provides
education, legal assistance and organizing
support for Mississippi workers. The
Center assists workers with developing
strategies for organizing to change conditions in their work environment. In partnership with members and community supporters, the Center implements organizing
campaigns to eradicate racism, unfair labor
practices and unsafe working conditions
from Mississippi workplaces. Through their
involvement with the Center, workers develop strategies to more effectively fight for
human rights and justice on the job.
CHERI HONKALA (FACILITATOR ORGANIZING
CAUCUS AND POVERTY WORKING GROUP)
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights
Campaign/
Kensington Welfare Rights Union

P.O. Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132
(215) 203-1945
(215) 203-1950 (fax)
kwru@kwru.org
www.kwru.org
The Kensington Welfare Rights Union
(KWRU) is a multi-racial organization of,
by and for poor and homeless people.
We believe that we have a right to thrive
- not just barely survive. KWRU is dedicated to organizing welfare recipients,
the homeless, the working poor and all
people concerned with economic justice.
ANDY HUFF (MEMBER OF PLANNING
COMMITTEE)
Indian Law Resource Center

602 N. Ewing St.
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 449-2006
ahuff@indianlaw.org
www.indianlaw.org
As an organization founded and directed
by Native Americans, the Indian Law
Resource Center is dedicated to protecting
the right of indigenous peoples to live with
dignity and respect . Our principal goal is
the survival of indigenous peoples, including protection of their land rights, environment, and right to self-determination. By
providing legal and technical support to
indigenous communities working on these
issues, we work to reform national and
international laws to recognize indigenous
human rights. We believe that indigenous
peoples can deal with the problems they
face if their basic rights are established
and protected and the inequities they suffer are removed from national and international laws and policies. Only then will
indigenous communities have the protection that they need to maintain and develop their unique and vibrant cultures.

7 1

Appendix A
VANESSA JIMENEZ (FACILITATOR SOVEREIGNTY
WORKING GROUP)
Indian Law Resource Center

“people’s power” in those communities
that are most harmed by unlawful police
violence and the incarceration industry.

vjimenez@indianlaw.org
See information above

MALEENA LAWRENCE (ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
INCARCERATION WORKING GROUP)
(formerly of ) Amnesty International USA

DEBORAH LABELLE (LEGAL CAUCUS,
INCARCERATION WORKING GROUP)

600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, 5th fl.
Washington, DC 20003

Debrorah LaBelle Law Offices

221 N. Main St., Suite 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 996-5620
(734) 769-8964 fax
Deblabelle@aol.com

See information above

Deborah LaBelle Law Offices is a civil
rights law firm which focuses on
addressing the human rights of incarcerated people. Deborah LaBelle is a
Open Society Institute, Soros Senior
Justice Fellow working on issues of
juvenile detention.

Women’s Economic Agenda Project

BERNICE LALO (ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
SOVEREIGNTY WORKING GROUP)
Western Shoshone Defense Project

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley, NV 89821
(775) 468-0230
(775) 468-0237 fax
Bernice@the-onramp.net
www.wsdp.org

7 2

The Western Shoshone Defense Project’s
mission is to affirm Western Shoshone
jurisdiction through the protection,
preservation and restoration of Western
Shoshone rights and homelands for
present and future generations based
upon cultural and spiritual traditions. As
part of this effort, the Western Shoshone
Defense project also assists Mary and
Carrie Dann in their ongoing efforts to
protect their traditional Western
Shoshone lands.
RAQUEL LAVINA (ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
INCARCERATION WORKING GROUP)
(formerly of the) Ella Baker Center for Human
Rights

1230 Market St., PMB #409
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 951-4844 ext 226
(415) 951-4813 fax
www.ellabakercenter.org
www.booksnotbars.org
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
documents, exposes, and challenges
human rights abuses within the United
States criminal justice system. We combine policy reform, media advocacy, public
education, grassroots organizing, directaction mobilizing, cultural activism, new
technology and legal services to accomplish our mission. EBC works to build

ETHEL LONG-SCOTT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
(ORGANIZING CAUCUS, POVERTY WORKING
GROUP)
449 – 15th Street 2nd Flr.
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 451-7379
(510) 986-8628 fax
elscott@weap.org
www.weap.org
In keeping with its commitment to economic human rights for all and the elimination of poverty, the Women’s Economic
Agenda Project’s (WEAP) mission has
always been grounded in justice for economic human rights. Our approach incorporates strategic actions, including, organizing, education, message development,
leadership development, campaigns, policy work, and advocacy that derive from the
needs of the community. We address economic injustices experienced by individuals and families, and bring people together
to speak out and create change.
TONYA MCCLARY (POLICY CAUCUS,
INCARCERATION WORKING GROUP)
American Friends Service Committee

1501 Cherry St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 241-7130
(215) 241-7119 fax
tmcclary@afsc.org
www.afsc.org
The American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various
faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service.
Its work is based on the Religious
Society of Friends (Quaker) belief in the
worth of every person, and faith in the
power of love to overcome violence and
injustice.
Founded in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to
aid civilian victims during World War I,
today the AFSC has programs that focus
on issues related to economic justice,
peace-building and demilitarization,
social justice, and youth, in the United
States, and in Africa, Asia, Latin
America, and the Middle East.

ALI MILLER (SCHOLARSHIP CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
Columbia Univ. School of Public Health

Law and Policy Project
60 Haven Ave., #B2
New York, NY 10032
(212) 304-5280
(212) 305-7024
am808@columbia.edu
The Law and Policy Project:
Through research, writing, teaching and
training, monitoring and case-by-case
advocacy, the Law and Policy Project has
been at the forefront of developing linkages between public health and human
rights. The Project’s staff bring their
training as both practicing lawyers and
public health professionals to address
issues such as sexual rights, reproductive health, maternal mortality, safe
migration and anti- trafficking work, violence against women and the health of
refugee and displaced populations. The
Project focuses its work at the intersection of public health and human rights,
where analytic tools, moral power and
popular appeal combine to have the
greatest potential to generate social
change and thus advance the health and
well-being of people in all parts of the
world. In addition to the theoretical
development of the public health-human
rights linkage through publications, staff
at the Law and Policy Project have
worked in the last decade to continue to
build strong linkages with NGO movements in the US, trans-nationally and
internationally, and close collaborations
with some specific networks and organizations. Our base in a university setting gives us a freedom to press the
edges of human rights theory and practice in ways that are often institutionally
impossible when working from within
more traditional activist organizations,
but which we hope to place in service to
NGOs working in these areas.
RAMONA ORTEGA (DOCUMENTATION
CAUCUS, POVERTY WORKING GROUP)
Human Rights Project/Urban Justice Center

666 Broadway, 10th Fl.
New York, NY 10012
(646) 602-5630
rortega@urbanjustice.org
www.urbanjustice.org
The Human Rights Project attempts to
situate domestic poverty and discrimination issues within a human rights framework. Our work represents a unique
and creative attempt to push for a higher standard of government accountability than U.S. legislation typically allows.
We spearhead efforts to document,
monitor, and report on economic

Appendix

A

human rights violations in the United
States, and then publicize our findings
through publications, community education, and direct action.
ALEX PAGE (FACILITATOR SOVEREIGNTY
WORKING GROUP AND POLICY CAUCUS)
Indian Law Resource Center

601 E St., SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-2800
(202) 547-2803 fax
apage@indianlaw.org
www.indianlaw.org
See information above

ROSA PEREA (EDUCATION CAUCUS,
IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP)
Arnold Mireles Human Rights Project

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

8812 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 731-0109 ext 27
(773) 731-0119 fax
rosaiselaperea@yahoo.com
Centro Comunitario Juan Diego (CCJD)
is a non-profit organization on the
southeast side of Chicago. CCJD organizes around issues that effect the community directly, including in the schools
to improve the quality of education and
in the local health clinics to bring better
services, around crime and other issues.
The project collaborates with other institutions such as the Illinois Coalition for
Immigrants and Refugee Rights, Local 1
Service Employees International Union,
the National Network for Immigrants
and Refugees, the Poor Peoples’ World
Summit and others.
TERRANCE PITTS (POLICY CAUCUS, DEATH
PENALTY WORKING GROUP)
(formerly of the) National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty

920 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 543-9577
(202) 543-7798 (fax)
www.ncadp.org
See information above

CATHERINE POWELL (FACILITATOR
SCHOLARSHIP CAUCUS AND INCARCERATION
WORKING GROUP)

of human rights problems around the
world, including in the United States,
and to prepare lawyers to address those
problems throughout their careers.
Since its founding in 1997, the Crowley
Program has become a crossroads for
human rights scholarship, teaching and
activism, through establishment of a
speaker series, conferences, and human
rights missions to a range of countries.
Through its speaker series, the Program
has become a center for presentations,
meetings, and colloquia featuring academics and advocates from around the
world. In addition to placing students as
interns in human rights organizations
throughout the world, each year the
Program sends teams of students and
professors on human rights missions.
Through its innovative annual human
rights missions, students and faculty
have visited and published reports on
human rights issues in Turkey, Hong
Kong, Mexico, Ghana, and Malaysia.
Human rights in the U.S. is also a focus
of the program, both in the context of
conferences and scholarship sponsored
by the the Crowley Program, as well as in
the context of a course Crowley-affiliated
Professor Catherine Powell will teach on
Human Rights and Constitutional Rights.
SPEEDY RICE (SCHOLARSHIP CAUCUS, DEATH
PENALTY WORKING GROUP)
Gonzaga Univ. School of Law

N. 721 Cincinnati
Spokane, WA 99258
(509) 323-3703
(509) 323-5842 fax
srice@lawschool.gonzaga.edu
www.law.gonzaga.edu/ICJLC
The International Criminal Justice Law
Clinic (ICJLC) was founded in August
2000, by Professor Speedy Rice, in conjuction with his international criminal defense
work on behalf of the National Association
of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
The ICJLC has four students each semester, with supplemental support by the
previously enrolled students on an ongoing basis. These students provide legal
assistance to attorneys in the US and
abroad, researching and writing briefs on
issues of international law as it relates to
foreign nationals serving time on death
row in the United States.

LORETTA ROSS (FACILITATOR EDUCATION
CAUCUS AND IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP)
Center for Human Rights Education

P.O. Box 311020
Atlanta, GA 31131
(404) 344-9629
(404) 346-7517 (fax)
Loretta@nchre.org
www.nchre.org
The National Center for Human Rights
Education (NCHRE) provides educational programs for community groups,
nonprofit organizations, schools and
universities, helping individuals to
appraise their efforts in the context of
the global human rights standards.
Offering introductory and intensive
training workshops and educational
resource materials, NCHRE enables
individuals and organizations to evaluate their current strategies for social
change and build a united movement for
human rights in the United States.
CHRIS SEWALL (DOCUMENTATION CAUCUS,
SOVEREIGNTY WORKING GROUP)
Western Shoshone Defense Project

P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley, NV 89821
(775) 468-0230
(775) 468-0237 fax
www.wsdp.org
See information above

TED SHAW (LEGAL CAUCUS, DISCRIMINATION
WORKING GROUP)
NAACP LDEF

99 Hudson St.,
New York, NY 10013
(212) 965-2210
(212) 226-7592
tshaw@naacpldf.org
www.naacpldf.org
Over the years, LDF has built a formidable reputation as the primary legal representative of the African-American community. However, our work has impacted not only black Americans, but other
minorities, women, the aged, the disabled, gays and lesbians, and the poor.
Today, through our primary program
areas-education, political participation,
economic justice and criminal justice-we
continue to challenge America to meet
its democratic ideals.

Fordham Law School

33 W. 60th St., Room 213
New York, NY 10023
(212) 636-7433
cpowell@mail.lawnet.fordham.edu
The Joseph R. Crowley Program in
International Human Rights at Fordham
Law School aims to increase awareness

7 3

Appendix A
KIM SLOTE (DOCUMENTATION CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
(formerly of the) Women’s Rights Network

Wellesley Center for Women
106 Central St.
Wellesley, MA 02481
(781) 283-2548
(781) 283-3657 fax
www.wcwonline.org/wrn
She can now be reached at:
kimslote@yahoo.com
ANDREA SMITH (SCHOLARSHIP CAUCUS,
SOVEREIGNTY WORKING GROUP)
Incite! Women of Color Against Violence

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

133 Eden Wood
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
(734) 231-1845
Incite_national@yahoo.com
www.incite-national.org

7 4

INCITE! Women of Color Against
Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against
women of color and their communities
through direct action, critical dialogue
and grassroots organizing. By supporting grassroots organizing, we intend to
advance a national movement to nurture
the health and well-being of communities of color. Through the efforts of
Incite!, women of color and our communities will move closer towards global
peace, justice and liberation.
KEMBA SMITH, (EDUCATION CAUCUS,
INCARCERATION WORKING GROUP)
Kemba N. Smith Youth Foundation

P.O. Box 2455
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 730-1123
kembasmith@hotmail.com
CINDY SOOHOO (FACILITATOR LEGAL
CAUCUS, AND DISCRIMINATION WORKING
GROUP)
Human Rights Institute
Columbia Univ. Law School

435 W. 116th St., B-28
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-0706
(212) 854-3554(fax)
csooho@law.columbia.edu
See information above

DOROTHY Q. THOMAS (FACILITATOR
DOCUMENTATION CAUCUS AND DEATH
PENALTY WORKING GROUP)
333 W. 20th St., #4
NYC, 10011
(212) 414-9154
(212) 414-0576 fax
dqthomas@aol.com

HEATHER WEST (EDUCATION CAUCUS,
POVERTY WORKING GROUP)

Dorothy Q. Thomas is a consultant on
human rights in the United States. From
1989-1998, she served as the founding
director of the women’s Rights Division
at Human Rights Watch. She is a 1995
Peace Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for
advanced Study, a 1998 MacArthur
Fellow, and a 1998 recipient of the
Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
from the President of the United States.

The mission of the Deaf & Deaf-Blind
Committee on Human Rights is to build
the movement to gain equality, a
respectful living environment and
Human Rights for all Deaf, Hard of
Hearing and Deaf-Blind people through
education, networking, leadership, unity,
teamwork and empowerment.

DOROTHY TOWNSEND (ORGANIZING
CAUCUS, POVERTY WORKING GROUP)
Invited, unable to attend
(formerly of ) Exec. Dir. South Florida Jobs
with Justice

1405 NW 167th St.
Miami, FL 33169
(305) 623-4900
(305) 623-3071 fax
southfloridajwj@aol.com
PENNY VENETIS (LEGAL CAUCUS,
IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP)
Rutgers Univ. Law School
Constitutional Litigation Clinic

123 Washington St.
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 353-3240
(973) 353-1249 fax
pennyv@kinoy.rutgers.edu
The Constitutional Litigation Clinic was
founded in 1970 as part of the curriculum
of the Rutgers School of Law - Newark.
The Clinic’s aim is to advance civil rights
and human rights using test cases and
impact litigation, and to train generations
of new lawyers to work on cutting-edge
legal issues. The Clinic’s landmark international human rights case, Jama v.
United States, remains the only case in
the U.S. that holds that federal officials,
and private corporations that contract
with the federal government, can be sued
under non- treaty- based customary international law for abuses they commit in
the U.S. In addition, the Clinic continues
to be at the forefront of freedom of
speech litigation protecting the rights of
people to speak in public spaces and private spaces. The Clinic is involved in legislative and advocacy efforts to reform
abusive conditions of detention facilities
where political asylum seekers and other
immigrants are detained.

Deaf & Deaf-Blind Comm. on Human Rights

1875 North Ridge Road East, Suite A
Lorain, OH 44055
(440) 277-8642
(440) 277-7946
DDBCHR1@cs.com

SARAH WHITE (ORGANIZING CAUCUS,
DISCRIMINATION WORKING GROUP)
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1529

218 2nd St.
Indianola, MS 38751
(662) 887-6270/1
(662) 887-8016
SHERRY WILSON (EDUCATION CAUCUS,
SOVEREIGNTY WORKING GROUP)
National Center for Human Rights
Education
PO Box 311020
Atlanta, GA 31131
(404) 344-9629
(404) 346-7517 fax
sherry@nchre.org
www.nchre.org
See information above

Appendix B
Appendix B
S E L E C T I N T E R N AT I O N A L
AND REGIONAL HUMAN
RIGHTS DOCUMENTS

G e n e r a l :
Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
(1948), United Nations document can be
found at University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts/.
Passport-size copies of the Universal
Declaration can be purchased from the
United Nations publication’s department
at (800) 253-9646, 100 copies are available
for $3.
American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man, (1948), Organization of
American States document can be found
at the University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts/.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Convention on the Rights of the Child,
(1990), United Nations treaty can be found
at the University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Optional Protocol to the Convention on
the Rights of the Child on the Involvement
of Children in Armed Conflicts, (2002),
United Nations treaty can be found at the
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Optional Protocol to the Convention on
the Rights of the Child on the Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution and Child
Pornography, (2002), United Nations
treaty can be found at the University of
Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,
(1951), United Nations treaty can be found
at the University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.

C i v i l a n d
P o l i t i c a l R i g h t s :
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
(1976), United Nations treaty can be found
at the University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Convention Against Torture, (1987), United
Nations document can be found at
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of
Prisoners, (1955), United Nations document can be found at University of

Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles
Deprived of their Liberty, (1990), United
Nations document can be found at
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Basic Principles for the Treatment of
Prisoners, (1990), United Nations document can be found at University of
Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Body of Principles for the Protection of All
Person under Any Form of Detention or
Imprisonment, (1988), United Nations
document can be found at University of
Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Principles of Medical Ethics Relevant to
the Role of Health Personnel, particularly
Physicians, in the protection of Prisoners
and Detainees against Torture and other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment, (1982), United Nations document can be found at University of
Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement
Officials, (1979), United Nations document can be found at University of
Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Basic Principles on the use of Force and
Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials,
(1990), United Nations document can be
found at University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts

A n t i D i s c r i m i n a t i o n :
Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women,
(1981), United Nations treaty can be found
at University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination,
(1969), United Nations treaty can be
found at University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www.1.umn.edu/humanrts.
World Conference Against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance, Programme of Action, (2001),
United Nations document can be found at
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.

Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action,
United Nations document can be found at
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Inter-American Convention on the
Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication
of Violence Against Women, (1994),
Organization of American States (OAS)
document can be found at the OAS website, www.oas.org.
Inter-American Convention on the
Granting of Political Rights of Women,
(1948), Organization of American States
(OAS) document can be found at the OAS
website, www.oas.org.
Inter-American Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Persons with Disabilities, (1999),
United Nations document can be found at
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Principles for the Protection of Persons
with Mental Illness and the Improvement
of Mental Health Care, (1991), United
Nations document can be found at
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.

M i g r a n t s :
International Convention on the Protection
of all Migrant Workers and Their Families,
(2003), United Nations treaty can be
found at University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.

S o v e r e i g n t y :
Convention Concerning Indigenous and
Tribal Peoples in Individual Countries,
(International Labour Organization
Convention No. 169), (1991), International
Labour Organization document can be
found at University of Minnesota Human
Rights Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
United Nations Draft Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples, United
Nations document can be found on the
Indian Law Resource Center, www.indianlaw.org/un_draft_decl.
Draft American Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, Organization of
American States document can be found
at www.cidh.oas.org/indigenous.htm.

7 5

Appendix B
E c o n o m i c ,
S o c i a l , a n d
C u l t u r a l R i g h t s :
International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, (1976), United
Nations treaty can be found at University
of Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.
Protocol of San Salvador
Convention Concerning Employment
Promotion and Protection Against
Unemployment, (1991), United
Nations/International Labor Organization
document can be found at University of
Minnesota Human Rights Library,
www1.umn.edu/humanrts.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Resolution of the United Nations Human
Rights Commission on the right of everyone
to the highest attainable standard of physical
and mental health, (2003),
E/CN.4/RES/2003/38, the resolution can be
found at the website of the high commissioner of human rights: www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/FramePage/standard%20physical%20En?OpenDocuments
&Start=1&Count=15&Expand=1.

7 6

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the
Right to Health, (2003), E/CN.4/2003/58,
submitted by Paul Hunt regarding the right
of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest
attainable standard of physical and mental
health, the report can be found at the website of the high commission of human
rights: www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/
Huridoca.nsf/TestFrame/9854302995c2c86f
c1256cec005a18d7?.
Additional Protocol to the American
Convention on Human Rights in the area
of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
“Protocols of San Salvador,” Organization
of American States (OAS) document can
be found at the OAS website:
www.oas.org..
Basic Documents on Economic and Social
Rights
Links to UN documents on economic and
social rights and resources on the six basic
rights to education, health, housing, work,
food and social security. Fact sheets and
other materials on those rights are also
available. (available from the Center for
Economic and Social Rights,
http://www.cesr.org/ESCR/basicescr.htm,
162 Montague St, 2nd Fl, Brooklyn, NY
11201, 718-237-9145, rights@cesr.org).

ONLINE RESOURCES
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, www1.umn.edu/humanrts/, the
University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library is a repository for human rights
documents available on the internet.
The Library is fairly simple to use and
more easy to navigate for those who
maybe less familiar with the United
Nations system and its various bodies
and documents. Documents include
treaties, those generated by treaty committees, the secretariat, specialized UN
agencies, international criminal tribunals, and world conferences. The
Library also has documents generated
by the Organizations of American States
and the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights.
United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights website, www.unhchr.ch.
This site has two primary document
search mechanisms: the Charter-based
Bodies Database and the Treaty Bodies
Database. Both search mechanisms
allow you to search by key words such as
“education” or “death penalty.” The Treaty
Bodies Database includes Treaties (i.e.
Convention on the Rights of the Child) as
well as documents generated by Treaty
Committees and documents generated by
countries responding to Committee
requests or fulfilling reporting requirements of signatory countries. The Charterbased Bodies Database includes documents generated by Charter-based bodies
within the United Nations such as the
General Assembly and the Commission on
Human Rights. This database includes
documents such as resolutions and
reports of Special Rapporteurs.
United Nations Refugee Agency and the
United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, www.unhcr.ch. The mandate of
this United Nations Agency is to lead and
coordinate international activities to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems
worldwide.

Appendix C
Appendix C
BIBLIOGRAPHY
“Advancing Rights Protection in the
United States: An Internationalized
Advocacy Strategy,” by Dorothy Q.
Thomas, Harvard Human Rights
Journal, Vol. 9, 15-26, 1996.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

African American Struggle for Human
Right, 1944-1955, by Carol Anderson,
Cambridge University Press, 2003.

“Human Rights Education and Public
Policy in the United States: Mapping the
Road Ahead,” Adam Stone in Human
Rights Quarterly 24 (2002).
“Human Rights Education for the 21st
Century”, edited by George J.
Andreopoulos and Richard Pierre
Claude, University of Pennsylvania
Press, 1997.
“Human Rights U.S. Style: From
Colonial Times through the New Deal”,
Claude M. Lightfoot, International
Publishers, 1997.

“Recognizing the Interdependence of
Rights in the Antidiscrimination Context
Through the World Conference Against
Racism,” Catherine Powell and Jennifer
H. Lee, 34 Columbia Human Rights Law
Review 235, (2002).
Revisiting Social Group and Nexus in
Gender Asylum Claims: A Unifying
Rationale for Evolving Jurisprudence, by
Karen Musalo, DePaul Law Review, Vol.
52, No. 3, 777-808, Spring 2003.
“The Right to Human Rights Education
by United Nations”, Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights, 1999.

Bibliography for Scholarship at the
Intersection of International Human
Rights and U.S. Constitutional Law, by
Catherine Powell. This bibliography is
available on the Fordham University Law
School website at:
www.law.forham.edu/crowley then click
research resources.

“Indivisible Rights and Intersectional
Identities or ‘What Do Women’s Human
Rights Have to Do With the Race convention?’,” by Lisa A. Crooms, Howard
Law Journal, Vo. 40, No. 3, 619-640,
1997.

“Contemporary Civil Rights Struggle:
The Role of Black Attorneys,” Elaine
Jones and Jaribu Hill, 16 National Black
Law Journal 185, (1999-2000).

“International Human Rights and United
States Law: Prediction of a Court
Watcher,” by Martha Davis, Albany Law
Review, Vol. 64, No. 2, 417-436, 2000.

“Desegregation as a Cold War
Imperative,” by Mary L. Dudziak, 41
Stan. L. Rev. 61, 94-96, 1988.

Making the Connections: Human Rights
in the United States, Women’s Institute
for Leadership Development, 2002.

“Dialogic Federalism: Constitutional
Possibilities for Incorporation of Human
Rights Law in the United States”,
Catherine Powell, 150 Pennsylvania Law
Review 245, (November 2001).

“The Occurrence of Poverty Across the
Life Cycle: Evidence from the PSID,” by
Mark R.Rank and Thomas A. Hirschl,
Journal of Policy Analysis &
Management, 20, 2001.

“Taking Suffering Seriously: The
Importance of Collective Human Rights,”
William Felice, SUNY Press, 1996.

“Fierce Legion of Friends: A History of
Human Rights Campaigns and
Campaigners”, Linda Rabben, The
Quixote Center, 2002.

“Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Paulo
Freire, Seabury Press, 1970.

“Threads of Common Suffering and a
Victory We Must Claim,” Jaribu Hill, 28
Southern University Law Review 271,
(2001).

“Politics Among Nations: The Struggle
for Power and Peace.” Hans J.
Morgenthau and Kenneth W. Thompson,
Alfred A. Knoff, 1985.

“Geographies of Hunger,” chapter in
Transnational legal Processes:
Globalisation and Power Disparities,
Catherine Powell, Butterworths Tolley,
Michael Likosky, ed., (2002).

“The Politics of Human Rights,” in The
Economist, August 18-24, 2001.

“Global Intersections: Critical Race
Feminist Human Rights and
Inter/National Black Women,” by Hope
Lewis, Maine Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 2,
309-326, 1998.

“Racism in the U.S. Welfare Policy: A
Human Rights Issue,” by Linda
Burnham, in Poverty to Punishment:
How Welfare Reform Punishes the Poor,
Applied Research Center.

“Human Rights and the Challenge of
Relevance: The Case of Collective
Rights” by Abdullahi A. An-Na’im in The
Role of the Nation-State in the 21st
Century: Human Rights, International
Organizations and Foreign Policy, edited
by Monique Castermans-Holleman,
Fried Van Hoof, and Jacqueline Smith,
Netherlands Institute of Human Rights,
1998.

“Rags or Riches: Estimating the
Probabilities of Poverty and Affluence
Across the Adult American Life Span,”
by Mark R. Rank and Thomas A. Hirschl,
Social Science Quarterly, 82, 2001.

“Righting Wrongs,” by Leti Volpp, UCLA
Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 6, 1815-1837,
2002.
“Some Days are Harder than Hard:
Welfare Reform and Women with Drug
Convictions” (1999). Based on in-depth
interviews with women in recovery from
addiction and how the ban on welfare
against persons with drug felony convictions has affected their lives. Report
available from Community Legal
Services of Philadelphia.
http://www.clasp.org/DMS?Documents/
997993897.158.

Values for a Godless Age: The Story of
the United Kingdom’s New Bill of Rights,
by Fancesca Lug, Penguin Books, 2000.
“We Are Not the World: U.S. Activism
and Human Rights in the 21st Century,”
by Dorothy Q. Thomas, SIGNS: Journal
of Women in Culture and Society, Vol.
25, No. 4, 1121-1124, 2000.
A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt
and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, by Mary Ann Glendon, Random
House, New York, 2001.

7 7

Appendix D
Appendix D

P e o p l e W h o
I m p r i s o n e d

A NOTE ON SOURCES

I m m i g r a t i o n

Human Rights Abuses Against
Prisoners. Available from the website of
Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.org.

Fact Sheet No. 24, The Rights of Migrant
Workers, available from the website of
the Office of the U.N. High
Commissioner for Human Rights,
www.unhchr.ch.

International Human Rights Standards
Governing the Treatment of Prisoners.
Available from the website of Human
Rights Watch, www.hrw.org.

Coalition Letter to President Bush
Expressing Opposition to AntiImmigrant Measures, October 29, 2002,
available from the website of the ACLU,
www.aclu.org.
Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Assault
on Civil Liberties, October 30, 2002,
available from the website of the ACLU,
www.aclu.org.
Know Your Rights! A pamphlet produced
by the National Lawyers Guild National
Immigration Project, the American Arab
Anti-Discrimination League, and the
American Immigration Lawyers
Association, www.aila.org.

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Campaigner’s Handbook for the
Migrants Rights Convention, available at
www.migrantsrights.org.

7 8

International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Workers and Members of Their Families,
available at www.migrantsrights.org.

A m e r i c a n

I n d i a n s

Andrew Huff, Racism Against Indigenous
Peoples in the United States and
Canada, in Racism Against Indigenous
Peoples, a publication of the International
Work Group for Indigenous Affairs,
Document No. 105, Copenhagen 2001.
S. James Anaya, Indigenous Peoples in
International Law, Oxford University
Press, 1996.
Report No. 75/02, Case No. 11.140, Mary
and Carrie Dann v. United States,
Organization of American States, InterAmerican Commission on Human
Rights, December 27, 2002, available at
www.indianlaw.org.

A r e

Race and Incarceration in the United
States. Available from the website of
Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.org.
Prisoner Rights: Prisons. Available from
the website of the ACLU, www.aclu.org.

Fact Sheet #4: Guilty Until Proven
Innocent. Available from the website of
the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, www.ncadp.org.
Fact Sheet #5: Deterence: Fact or Fiction?
Available from the website of the National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty,
www.ncadp.org.
Fact Sheet #6: Mental Competency and
the Death Penalty. Available from the website of the National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty.
Death Penalty. Available from the website
of the ACLU, www.aclu.org.

T h e

P o o r

Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners. Adopted by the
First United Nations Congress on the
Prevention of Crime and the Treatment
of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955,
and approved by the Economic and
Social Council by its resolution 663 C
(XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of
13 May 1977. Available from the website
of the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights,
www.unchr.ch.

Poor People’s Human Rights Report on
the United States. Available from the
Kensington Welfare Right Union,
www.kwru.org.

Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, G.A. res. 39/46, [annex,
39 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 51) at 197,
U.N. Doc. A/39/51 (1984)] entered into
force June 26, 1987. Available from the
website of the University of Minnesota
Human Rights Library,
www/.umn.edu.humanrts.

D i s c r i m i n a t i o n

Eric Schlosser, The Prison-Industrial
Complex, The Atlantic Monthly,
December 1998. Available online at
www.theatlantic.com.

P e o p l e W h o a r e
o n D e a t h R o w
Fact Sheet #1: The US Leads the World in
Killing Kids. Available from the website of
the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, www.ncadp.org.
Fact Sheet #2: Executing Minorities: An
American Tradition. Available from the
website of the National Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty, www.ncadp.org.
Fact Sheet #3: Million to Kill, Pennies to
Heal. Available from the website of the
National Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty, www.ncadp.org.

Hunger is No Accident. Available from the
Urban Justice Center, www.urbanjustice.org.
Human Rights Violations in Welfare
Legislation: Pushing Recipients Deeper
into Poverty. Available from the Urban
Justice Center, www.urbanjustice.org.

Hatred in the Hallways: Violence and
Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgendered Students in
U.S. Schools. Available from Human
Rights Watch, www.hrw.ortg.
With Liberty and Justice for All: Women’s
Human Rights in the United States.
Available from Women Ink, www.womenink.org.
The Persistence of White Privilege and
Institutional Racism in U.S. Policy.
Available from the Applied Research
Center, www.arc.org.
CERD Shadow Report, Racial and Ethnic
Discrimination in the U.S., Status of
Compliance by the U.S. Government with
the ICERD. Available from the World
Organization Against Torture, www.woatusa.org.

Notes

7 9

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG

A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Notes

8 0

Labi Siffre, Something Inside So Strong

This report is distributed by the U.S. Human Rights Network. To order additional copies or to
download the report, visit the network website at: www.ushrnetwork.org

SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG A R E S O U R C E G U I D E O N H U M A N R I G H T S I N T H E U N I T E D S T A T E S

JUST LOOK
THEM IN
THE EYES
AND SAY
WE’RE
GONNA
DO IT
ANYWAY.

SOMETHING
INSIDE SO
STRONG
A RESOURCE GUIDE ON

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE
U N I T E D S TAT E S

 

 

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