#CERDpreferred

A call to confront racism in the US using the CERD - a legal framework designed to eliminate racism.

U.S. history is often told as a story of different eras marked by moments of perceived progress towards racial justice.  However, at each of these moments, racism did not end,  it adapted. And throughout history,  U.S. law has always protected and perpetuated the adaptation of racism prevailing at the time.  Unlike U.S. Law,  the CERD provides a legal framework that structural racism in the U.S. was not built to withstand.  It’s time to call for legal standards that were actually designed to eliminate racism; that expose, rather than embed, systemic racism in our society.

Add your voice to the call

The CERD

The CERD is the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.

VISUALIZING JUSTICE​

We are a team of anthropologists, lawyers, researchers, and activists seeking to render visible the hidden contexts of racial injustice.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is an international human rights treaty, commonly referred to as the CERD.  It has been signed by 182 countries, including the United States.  It prohibits all forms of racial discrimination and requires the United States to adopt policies and legislation to eradicate racial discrimination.

The CERD contains three general types of obligations: it requires States to actively seek to root out racial discrimination, adopt legislation to prevent racial discrimination, and punish racial discrimination when it does occur. 

 

Although the CERD is supposed to provide a mere baseline for anti-discrimination, it offers  a far more robust anti-discrimination framework for addressing systemic racsim in U.S. law enforcement than U.S. law.  Some of the key advantages of the CERD's anti-discrimination framework include:

 

  • No intent to discriminate standard.  That means that policies and practices that have racially disparate impacts can constitute a violation of the CERD
  • Racial profiling is not authorized under the CERD

  • Comply with its obligation to file periodic reports to the CERD Committee.
  • Adopt legislation directly implementing the legal standards contained in the CERD.
  • Allow individual complaints before the CERD Committee under Article 14.
  • Take appropriate action to respond to the CERD Committee’s statement under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures, calling on the U.S. to address systemic racism in law enforcement.
  • Nominate a representative to the CERD Committee

The CERD created the CERD Committee to help countries eradicate racial discrimination.  All countries are required to periodically report to the Committee on their progress in eradicating racial discrimination.  The Committee conveys concerns and recommendations after considering the report.

 

Any country that has joined the CERD can sue another country that has joined the CERD to end practices of racial discrimination before the CERD Committee.  The CERD Committee will establish a Conciliation Commission made up of five anti-racism human rights experts.  The Conciliation Commission will admit written and oral evidence from victims and experts.  When the proceedings are complete, it will issue a report with findings and recommendations about what a country should do to address racial discrimination.

  • Increased domestic and international awareness about systemic racism in American law enforcement and momentum for reform. 
  • The opportunity for victims, experts, and civil society leaders to make contributions demonstrating the need for reform on a global stage. 
  • The vindication of the human rights of Blacks in America. 
  • Findings and recommendations on how to address systemic racism in American law enforcement from the most authoritative anti-racism body in the world.
  • Perhaps, CERD Conciliation could serve as the racial truth and reconciliation process that America needs in order to heal and evolve.

Three CERD conciliation proceedings were initiated in 2018.  Qatar initiated proceedings against the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia challenging an embargo and travel ban affecting Qatari nationals and Palestine initiated proceedings against Israel alleging racial discrimination against Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

U.S. history is often told as a story of different eras marked by moments of perceived progress towards racial justice.  However, at each of these moments, racism did not end, it adapted. And throughout history, U.S. law has always protected and perpetuated the adaptation of racism prevailing at the time.  Unlike U.S. Law,  the CERD provides a legal framework that structural racism in the U.S. was not built to withstand.  It is time to call for legal standards that were actually designed to eliminate racism; that expose, rather than embed, systemic racism in our society.  We must demand that Black Lives Matter. Not only in the streets, but in the law.

This petition will be used by civil society to urge the Biden-Harris administration to implement and honor the U.S.'s obligations under the CERD.

 

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