USHRN Domestic Implementation Working Group Statement from 9.15.16 UPR Consultation

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Good Afternoon, thank you for organizing this final UPR consultation of the year on issues related to Immigration, Trafficking, Labor and Children. My remarks today are presented on behalf of the US Human Rights Network’s Domestic Implementation Working Group. We appreciate this Administration’s engagement with civil society throughout the course of these

U.N. reviews, and its efforts to foster greater awareness of the U.S.’ human rights commitments and obligations domestically. As we highlighted in our letter in March to Mr. Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor the U.S. has made a number of important strides during its first two UPR review cycles. In particular, the Administration’s creation of substance-specific working groups at the federal level is a very positive step. And we appreciate that this Administration organized a calendar of civil society consultations with each of the working groups this year.

However, we remain concerned, that the Administration’s positive steps may not lead to longterm and robust implementation, without additional action and a prioritization of domestic implementation as a key priority. One of our major concerns is that the U.S. continues to lack long-term infrastructural and institutional capabilities to further implement international human rights norms at home. Institutionalizing this critical work would guarantee continued attention to these issues and ensure recommendations have a real impact. In particular, we continue to express our disappointment that this Administration does not believe a new executive order is needed to establish an effective Interagency Working Group on Human Rights Implementation at the highest level with a mandate to oversee and coordinate domestic implementation of U.S. human rights obligations domestically. Nevertheless, we hope that, short of an executive order, the Administration will take steps to improve and ensure domestic implementation of international human rights treaties and recommendations by mandating that the Domestic Policy Council along with the National Security Council oversee this process.

We urge this Administration to issue a guidance or memorandum on treaty implementation at the federal agency level. We suggest this include a clearinghouse of all the work this administration has done on domestic human rights - something that follows up and reports on all these important working group consultations and cuts across the work of all the human rights recommendations, including the treaty bodies, UPR, UN Special procedure visits, and IACHR visits and hearings, as well as the SGD indicators to be developed. This would be something a future administration can use as starting point for its domestic human rights work and other countries can look to as an example.

Furthermore, while the U.S. receives consistent recommendations from civil society, treaty bodies, special mandate holders, and the UPR to improve its domestic human rights infrastructure, the U.S. continues to lack a national human rights institution (NHRI) or other national mechanism to coordinate and monitor human rights implementation. As a first step, we urge this Administration to conduct an assessment of how its current human rights monitoring and implementation mechanisms align with the Paris Principles, and what actions would be needed for the U.S. to create a national human rights monitoring and implementation body, such as an NHRI.

In addition, we urge the government to file a voluntary mid-term UPR report in 2018 documenting its efforts to implement the accepted UPR recommendations. This best practice has been followed by 63 countries to date, and is serving as a model for other participating states.

We hope you will consider our recommendations, which we believe would bring substantial and lasting benefit to U.S. efforts to advance human rights at home, institutionalize the progress made to date, and offer a positive example for other countries. We believe that the ability to further human rights implementation is indeed very possible based on past actions of this administration, such as the creation of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person, which brought together leaders from government, the private sector, advocates, survivors, communities of faith, civil society, law enforcement, and academia to strengthen our nation’s collective efforts to combat human trafficking. In implementing this ambitious agenda, the Obama Administration has focused on four priority areas: rule of law, victim services, procurement and supply chains, and public awareness and outreach. This key example is one we believe we can build on. We look forward to a robust conversation and working together to support your efforts towards comprehensive domestic human rights implementation.

Sincerely,

US Human Rights Network (USHRN), Domestic Implementation Working Group, implementationwg@ushrnetwork.org

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Domestic Implementation