24 August 2010

US Submits Report for Review by United Nations Human Rights Council

No reference to the fundamental human right of self-determination

The United States (U.S.) has submitted its 2010 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in conformity with the requirements of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report makes no reference to any activities in relation to one one of most fundamental of human rights - the right to  self-determination. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights website:

"The UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by (UN General Assembly) Resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur."

The General Assembly has also adopted other resolutions with direct relevance to human rights which recognise self-determination as a fundamental human right. Acordingly, the UN adopts an annual resolution, most recently Resolution 64/104 of 10 December 2009, covering the non self-governing territories of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. Resolution 64/104 reaffirm(ed) that:

 "In the process of decolonization, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination,   which is also a fundamental human right, as recognized under the relevant human rights conventions."

The resolution also:

 "Reiterate(d) its request that the Human Rights Committee collaborate with the Special Committee, within the framework of its mandate on the right to self-determination as contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with the aim of exchanging information, given that the Human Rights Committee is mandated to review the situation, including political and constitutional developments, in many of the Non-Self-Governing Territories that are within the purview of the (UN) Special Committee (on Decolonisation)."

The UN General Assembly has also adopted annual resolutions on the Implementation of the (Decolonisation) Declaration, most recently Resolution 64/106 of 10 December 2009 which:

  "Reaffirm(ed) once again that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, is incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the (Decolonisation) Declaration (a universal human rights instrument) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights....

Reiterat(ed) its conviction of the need for the eradication of colonialism, as well as racial discrimination and violations of basic human rights."
The drafters of the U.S. report for 2010, however, did not make reference to any efforts during the period of review to promote the fundamental right of self-determination for the peoples of the non self-governing territories under US administration, pursuant to relevant U.N. resolutions, and consistent with the information which should be furnished to the Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review
This is so even as the annex of the report includes the list of human rights treaties ratified by the U.S., including, inter alia, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forums of Racial Discrimination(CERD). It has signed (but not ratified) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  (ICESCR); and the American Convention on Human Rights. Article 1 of both the ICCPR and the ICESCR, include the following affirmation:
"All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."
Perhaps the omission of reference to the fundamental human right of self-determination as related to the non self-governing territories will be addressed when the Human Rights Council considers the U.S. report in November 2010 - or is it that some human rights are more 'fundamental' than others? (Will an addendum to the report covering the self-determination process be issued before November)?
The areas presently covered by the report are as follows:

Report of the United States of America
Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review

I. Introduction
I.1 A more perfect union, a more perfect world 
I.2 The United States and the Universal Periodic Review: approach and methodology 

II. The United States and human rights: normative and institutional background
II.1 Human Rights as the ends of government and the means of progress
II.2 Enduring commitments

III. A commitment to freedom, equality, and dignity
III.1 Freedom of expression, religion, association, and political participation
III.2 Fairness and equality
III.3 Dignity

IV. A commitment to foster a society where citizens are empowered to exercise their rights
IV.1 Education
IV.2 Health
IV.3 Housing

V. A commitment to values in our engagement across borders
V.1 Values and National Security
V.2 Values and Immigration
V.3 Values and Trafficking

VI. Conclusion

The full report is available at:  http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/146379.pdf

Editor's Note: The most recent reference we could find to non self-governing territories in a U.S. report to a United Nations human rights body was contained in the 2007 Periodic Report of the United States of America to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In the Land and People section, the U.S. indicated:

"Neither the land area nor the basic federal-state organization of the United States has changed since submission of the Initial U.S. Report in 2000. Nor has there been change in the relationship between the United States and the outlying areas under U.S. jurisdiction – Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and several very small islands (emphasis added)."

1 comment:

Tane said...

While the U.S. sends its report; it appears purposely bent on ignoring its unlawful belligerent occupation of a recognized nation-state for over 117 years, the Hawaiian Kingdom. It violates the law of occupation, the law of neutrality, and breaches the Declaration of Human Rights. Thus far, the U.S.A. makes a mockery of justice, freedom, and democracy. It behooves the U.S.A. to reinstate itself as a credible, upstanding country by rectifying the wrongs it has been committing against peaceful nations such as the Hawaiian Kingdom and honor its ratified treaties.