The USHRN is disappointed to report that the October 17 & 18 review of the U.S. Government before the UN Human Rights Committee on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been postponed. Early on Thursday, October 10, representatives of the State Department made the request, which the Committee granted given the extraordinary circumstances of the government shutdown. The Committee did not take the request easily in light of the shutdown, however, as the chair of the Committee, Sir Nigel Rodley, was unequivocal in his opening statement of the 109th session of this oversight body: "The political party of Abraham Lincoln that in fire and blood ended slavery and gave freedom to millions of people of African descent, seemed now to have party members who thought that wealth did not just rhyme with health, but should also determine access to it. To achieve its aim it had brought the Government of the United States to a standstill and to the brink of defaulting on its national debt." Noting the critical role of civil society groups in ensuring the existence of human rights as a cornerstone of the U.N. and compliance to human rights generally, Rodley states, "Without the persistent lobbying of the civil society of the United States [among others] the promotion of human rights would not have been written into the Charter of the United Nations, and their contribution was valued significantly." In the same statement, he also assured civil society members that we will have sufficient time in March to brief the Committee as we would have had in October.
The USHRN ICCPR Taskforce and coordinating center will monitor and update all members and partners who have submitted reports and all who plan to engage in March's review. So stay tuned for more information including if, when and/or how we will submit updates for the 2014 review.
In the meantime, here are some resources and news items of interest:
Huffington Post blog by Columbia Law School's Human Rights Clinic: "Human Rights on Hold"
Foreign Policy blog on the Shutdown that mentions the postponement: "The shutdown is hurting China's generals too"
AFP Article on the postponement: "UN rights monitor slams Republicans over US shutdown"
The Hill article on delay of U.S. review: "UN official slams GOP as shutdown delays US human-rights review"
ICCPR Newsletter No. 4: Shadow Report Submissions (contains the executive summary and 30 reports submitted through the Network)