Call on the Obama Administration to Adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice

On March 21, 2013, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) and the Human Rights at Home Campaign launched the Once And For All campaign. Once And For All is a national call for the Obama Administration to develop a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice in consultation with communities directly affected by structural racism in the United States.

On March 21st 126 national and local organizations signed on to an open letter urging the Obama Administration to uphold its human rights obligations by addressing structural racism here at home.
 
The U.S. has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and is obligated to address structural racism. The National Plan of Action will identify concrete steps the Obama Administration intends to take to fully comply with ICERD.
 
Sign the petition, join the call for the Obama Administration to develop a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice, and spread the word about #once4all!
 
Background Information
 
March 21st
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination  is observed annually on March 21st in commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in South Africa. On March 21st 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people peacefully demonstrating against apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa. March 21st was subsequently adopted by the United Nations calling on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
 
ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination)
In 1994, the United States ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD often referred to simply as CERD). One of only three primary international human rights treaties the United States has ratified, it is legally binding on all levels of government under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Because the Constitution protects against racial discrimination and the United States has adopted many civil rights laws and policies, many people (including elected officials and advocates) often assume that the country is already in full compliance with ICERD. However, this is not the case. The treaty is broader than U.S. law in several ways:
  • The treaty applies to all levels of government, while the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only addresses discriminatory practices in programs or activities that receive Federal funding.
  • Countries that have ratified the Convention are obligated not just to avoid policies with a discriminatory impact, but to affirmatively address racial disparities.
  • Going beyond the single-issue approach of many anti-discrimination laws, the Convention recognizes cases of multiple, or intersecting, discrimination, such as where gender, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, or age, exists in combination with race.
  • The treaty prohibits policies that have a discriminatory impact on people of color, even where there is no intent to discriminate. 
National Plan of Action for Racial Justice
The National Plan of Action for Racial Justice is a comprehensive action plan that would be adopted by the federal government and applicable to all levels of government to address persistent contemporary forms of racial discrimination and race disparities in almost every sphere of life. Our current civil rights laws are simply not enough to advance racial equality and human rights for all. The Plan of Action would set concrete targets for achieving racial equality and reducing race disparities, create new tools for holding the government accountable to meeting these targets, and improve coordination between agencies and levels of government on racial discrimination issues that extend beyond current civil rights law. While primarily focused on the federal government, a plan should encourage all levels of government and other stakeholders to act. The plan must be developed with the meaningful input of communities most directly impacted by direct and indirect forms of racial discrimination. A National Plan of Action would also strengthen the full implementation of ICERD for the U.S. to meet its human rights obligations. Most importantly, a plan would establish clear steps to advancing racial equality.
 

 

Related Information

Publication

National Plan of Action Education Resource

This is a resource to inform social justice groups from the grassroots to the national level, while conveying to government officials the need for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice and how it might look.
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Publication

National Plan of Action Template

As a tool in the call for the Obama Administration to adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice, The US Human Rights Network, with input from human rights...
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Statement/Press Release

Letter to the Obama Administration to Adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice

March 21, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Obama, Today, as we join the global community in commemorating the International...
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