ICERD: The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination

The U.S. Government ICERD Review took place on August 13-14, 2014. On August 29, 2014 the United Nations CERD Committee released its Concluding Observations, which include serious concerns and powerful recommendations.

The U.S. Government has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD or more commonly, CERD) treaty and must report periodically on its record to uphold the human rights protected in this treaty. The U.S. Government submitted its report to the United Nations in June 2013 and went before the review committee in Geneva in August 2014 to answer questions about what the government is doing to address and dismantle racism in the U.S. U.S. Civil Society also submitted informaiton to the Committee - shadow reports - to help inform the Committee. At the review in Geneva, activists and advocates provided in person interventions from the ground detailing what is actually happening on a daily basis to communities of color across the U.S.

The Committee, in accordance with their rules of procedure, requested the U.S. Government to provide information within one year of the adoption of the August 29, 2014 concluding observations (due August 29, 2015, the USG follow-up report was submitted September 21, 2015), follow-up to the recommendations contained in paragraphs 17(a) (Investigate and Prosecute Excessive Use of Force); 17 (b) (Prevent Execssive use of Force), 18 (Immigrants) and 22 (Guantanamo Bay). U.S. Civil Society will also have the opportunity to provide information to the Committee. USHRN has put togther a template to help in putting together your follow-up shadow reports. Reports are due to the UN on November 20, 2015 (updated due date from October 29, 2015 due to late USG submission) and should be submitted in MS Word format and e-mailed to: with cc’ to:, The CERD Committee's follow-up review of the United States on these designated issue took place in Geneva at a closed session on May 13, 2016. A follow-up letter was sent from the Committee to the US Government on May 24, 2016.

The Committee recommended that the U.S. Government submit their tenth, eleventh, and twelfth periodic reports in a single document by November 20, 2017.

Our work on CERD is coordinated by the CERD Taskforce, which serves as the primary coordinating body for social justice groups and individuals interested in using the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to advance racial justice in the United States. 

Join the ICERD Listerv to get up to date information on ICERD activities.

Helpful Resources

Shadow Reports

What is CERD?

CERD is one of the few human rights treaties that the United States has ratified (formally accepted), and its standards are higher than those contained in domestic civil rights law and better suited to address contemporary forms of discrimination. The Network and its members are working to fully implement CERD by educating the public about U.S. Government obligations under the treaty and engaging our membership in the effective use of the treaty to promote human rights at home.

CERD is a human rights treaty designed to protect individuals and groups from discrimination based on race, whether the discrimination is intentional or is the result of seemingly neutral policies. The United States ratified CERD in 1994 and is therefore bound by all provisions of the treaty, which includes a periodic compliance review conducted by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the Committee, and sometimes referred to as the CERD Committee).

CERD is monitored by the Committee (an independent body of experts), which reviews regular reports of States parties (governments) on how the treaty is being implemented. Governments must report initially one year after acceding to the Convention and then whenever the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee meets in Geneva and New York and holds three sessions per year. 

The U.S. Government released its third report (which is a combination of its seventh, eighth and ninth periodic reports in one document) to the Committee in June 2013. As part of the reporting process, but more generally as part of getting ICERD implemented in the United States, the Network launched a national call for the Obama Administration to adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice on March 21, 2013. This is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We call on and encourage organizations and individuals to support our action and become involved in the ICERD reporting and implementation process. Learn More About the National Plan of Action for Racial Justice (NPA) and download our 2015 NPA UPR one-pager here.

USHRN Background on CERD

The USHRN CERD Project was created to ensure that the CERD Committee’s second review of the United States, which took place in Geneva in February 2008, included full and accurate information about the current human rights situation in the United States beyond the formal report submitted by the U.S. Government. The project’s key initial objective was to coordinate the production of a comprehensive shadow report that was presented to the CERD Committee during the review process. As a result of the USHRN’s coordination, and robust engagement from members and partners, the 2008 CERD review had an unprecedented level of participation from the social justice community. Many of the findings in the shadow report were directly reflected in the committee’s Concluding Observations.

Throughout 2008, the USHRN monitored the United States Government’s response to the concerns listed in the Concluding Observations in preparation for the one-year follow-up report that the government submitted to the CERD Committee in January 2009. The Network coordinated a response the U.S. follow-up report that the CERD committee received in June; other Network members submitted responses directly to the committee, also in June. Additional follow-up activities coordinated by the Network’s CERD Taskforce were planned throughout the year and informed the Universal Periodic Review process that took place in 2010.

Other CERD Project objectives include demonstrating the effectiveness of using an international human rights procedure to advance domestic advocacy agendas; educating the public about the human rights framework, particularly with regard to U.S. obligations to combat racial discrimination; increasing the capacity of domestic human rights and social justice organizations to use CERD and other treaties as well as the human rights framework to inform their advocacy; and strengthening the domestic human rights movement overall to better influence U.S. policy.

Other USHRN work on racial justice includes:

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Click here to learn important dates related to the CERD review as well as other human rights reviews.

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