On March 24, 2011, in collaboration with member organization Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (AEHR), USHRN held an all day human rights training workshop in New Orleans, Louisiana to raise awareness among local organizations in Louisiana about the CERD treaty and brainstorm strategies for using CERD in their advocacy work.
The workshop was held at the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University. This Center was founded in 1992 to address issues of environmental justice in the region. It provides opportunities for communities, scientific researchers, and decision makers to collaborate on programs and projects that promote the rights of all people to be free from environmental harm as it impacts health, jobs, housing, education, and general quality of life.
More than twenty participants attended the workshop, representing many local organizations, including: the Welfare Rights Organization, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB), SOAR, Haitian Relief Task Force (HRTF), Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Fourth World Movement, UMMAH, and Safe Streets. The organizations are an integral part of the civil society community in New Orleans working towards civil, economic, environmental, racial and social justice in the Gulf Coast region.
Dr. Beverly Wright, Founder and Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, welcomed the participants and spoke about the Center’s history and work. Dr. Kimberly Richards, an organizer and trainer at PISAB, gave a presentation entitled, “Internalizing & Acting on Racial Discrimination as a Human Rights Violation.” She explained how acts of racial discrimination are human rights violations and must be seen as such. Former USHRN Executive Director Ajamu Baraka introduced the participants to human rights advocacy in the US, speaking about the international human rights framework and how it applies here in the U.S. CERD Committee member Mr. Francisco Cali Tzay addressed the relevance and usefulness of CERD. He provided a history of the U.N. CERD Committee and its interactions with state parties and NGO communities. He offered tips on how to interface with the CERD Committee and the various relevant Special Procedures, such as the Urgent Action/Early Warning Procedure.
Attendees explored ways to ensure that 2008 CERD Concluding Observations regarding Katrina would be effectively integrated into future CERD (as well as ICCPR) treaty monitoring processes. The relationship between the CERD treaty and environmental racism was also explored.
Participants were provided A Practical Guide to Implementing CERD (Human Rights Project, Urban Justice Center) and Overlapping Concerns in the CERD Concluding Observations & the UPR Recommendations (prepared by the USHRN) to assist in their efforts to expand their participation in the treating monitoring processes of CERD.