Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Advancing Human Rights Issue Committee Action

The following post was submitted by Laura Roskos, on behalf of WILPF's Advancing Human Rights Issue Committee:

Constructive Time-sensitive Action for WILPFers Concerned about US Human Rights Violations

On Friday, August 12, Ann Fagan Ginger—-executive director of the Meicklejohn Civil Liberties Institute and second-generation WILPF member—held a lunchtime human rights seminar for attendees at the WILPF National Congress. Promoting human security through the full realization of universal human rights is a priority concern of WILPF International, and supported through the work of WILPF US’s Disarm and Advancing Human Rights issues committees.

Through a fast-paced interactive lecture, Ann reminded us that Article 6 of the US Constitution outlines a role for state and municipal governments in upholding the terms of treaties entered into by the federal government. She then demonstrated how all of the key human rights elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and even the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women are embedded in the language of the U.N. Charter itself (esp. Articles 55 and 56). Ann feels it is incredibly important that U.S.-ians realize that human rights are integral to our country’s own legal tradition and that U.S. NGOs focus their advocacy on domestic enforcement of those international instruments that the U.S. is a full party to: the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The U.S. government has often failed to fulfill its duties, or positive responsibilities, to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights articulated in these international treaties, despite that fact that many, if not most of those rights, are also elaborated in U.S. constitutional law. Human rights treaty enforcement relies on a process of data collection and reporting, conducted in the spirit of self-study by all levels of government. The U.S. has failed to make timely reports on its compliance under the above mentioned treaties, and at times has brazenly flaunted the spirit and letter of these agreements. In her recently published book, Challenging Human Rights Violations Since 9/11: A Report to the People, the United Nations, and the Media, Ann collected documentation on 180 such abuses. As thick as this book is, its compilation is by no means exhaustive.

Therefore, Ann invites WILPF members from across the country to join her in filing reports of human rights abuses with the U.N. Human Rights Committee. Of current interest to the committee are incidents occurring since Sept. 11, 2001, and involving the infringement of the human rights of non-citizens, people of Middle Eastern heritage, library users, foreign students, in particular as pursuant to the implementation of the U.S. Patriot Act.

In order to be useful to the committee, the reports should be brief, accurate, and factual, and submitted by email before August 29, 2005. For help in writing and filing reports, WILPF members can contact Soula at
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute: 2005@mcli.org.

What to put into the report:
  • Today's date
  • Date of Incident
  • Place where Incident happened
  • Name of Government official involved
  • Description of the violation/s
  • Name of Victim/s whose rights were violated
  • If Victim filed a complaint or filed a lawsuit, describe briefly
  • Tell current status of issue
  • Your name, address, occupation, contact info

Watch this blog for other tactics useful for building a tangible human rights culture in (y)our hometown.

Submitted by Laura Roskos (roskos@masscedaw.org)


  • I passed this on to the Arab American Anti-Descrimination Committee Chapter of Philadelphia. They might be interested in sending in a report

    By Anonymous Kate Zaidan, at 7:09 AM  

  • That's great, Kate. This is how the word gets out! WILPF can have an even greater influence on international relations if we continue to leverage our local knowledge and contacts.

    By Anonymous Laura Roskos, at 4:54 PM  

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