The United States, an advocate for human rights abroad, lacks a domestic mechanism for ensuring compliance of its human rights obligations at home. Over the past year, after extensive research and investigation by independent UN experts (including consultation with civil society groups and directly affected people, and meetings with the US government), four important reports on strengthening US compliance with international human rights standards have been issued by UN bodies. They focus on a wide range of issues, from voting rights to policing, education to housing, immigration to reproductive rights, and more. Each report is grounded in US international human rights obligations and commitments, and offers specific recommendations for how the US could improve its human rights record.
The United States, however, has no mechanism to implement such recommendations. The US is an outlier among Western democracies (and most of the other countries in the world) as it does not have a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).
An NHRI would be helpful not only in having a central address to monitor and promote implementation of the US' international human rights obligations, but also as a much-needed vehicle for human rights education, civic engagement, and rule of law domestically. An NHRI could also help to support the growing number of state and local human rights commissions around the country. So why don't we have one?
Speakers discuss both the substantive and structural needs for the United States to improve its human rights compliance. Speakers focus on recent recommendations by UN human rights bodies, the need to create an NHRI to address them, and current efforts underway to make a National Human Rights Institution in the United States a reality.