On March 22, 2011 USHRN co-sponsored with member organization International Indian Treaty Council a human rights training in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on utilizing international human rights mechanisms to advance domestic advocacy agendas. The workshop aimed to raise awareness among local organizations in New Mexico of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and introduce strategies for using CERD in their advocacy work.
The All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) hosted the training, which was held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The Center has played a critical role in the preservation and perseverance of Pueblo culture and holds the mission of advancing understanding by presenting with dignity and respect the accomplishment and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.
The twenty (20) attendees represented a number of indigenous groups including, IITC, Western Shoshone Defense Council, Indigenous Alliance without Borders, AIPC, Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, Indian Country Today, American Indian Law Alliance, Indigenous World Association, American Indian Opportunity and Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.
June Lorenzo of the American Indian Law Alliance served as moderator and the Chairman of the AIPC, Chandler Sanchez, opened the session. He was followed by the key speaker of the day, Francisco Cali Tzay, expert member of the UN CERD Committee and the Chairman of the CERD “Urgent Action/Early Warning Procedure.” Mr. Tzay spoke of his experience on the CERD committee and the importance and usefulness of the Convention. He provided a history of the CERD Committee and its interactions with state parties and NGO communities. During his training, 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. He led a discussion exploring the linkages between race and the human rights framework.
Former USHRN Executive Director Ajamu Baraka addressed the group, focusing his discussion on the USHRN’s work relating to CERD. He introduced attendees to the overlapping concerns in the CERD Concluding Observations from 2008 and the recommendations given in the 2010 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the U.S. by the UN Human Rights Council.
Attendees were also introduced to the connection between CERD and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with speakers highlighting the 2008 CERD Concluding Observations that addressed indigenous issues. Attendees spoke to the many border rights issues pertaining to indigenous peoples.
The USHRN distributed copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A Practical Guide to Implementing CERD (authored by the Human Rights Project, Urban Justice Center) and Overlapping Concerns in the CERD Concluding Observations & the UPR Recommendations (prepared by USHRN). Other handouts included resources relating to indigenous peoples rights, including Indigenous Border Rights Concerns, General Recommendation No. 23: Indigenous Peoples and Using the ICERD to Hold States Accountable for Racial Discrimination.