Ensuring U.S. accountability to human rights standards

An important component of the Center's work is ensuring that the United States lives up to its human rights commitments related to reproductive rights. The U.S. Legal Program advocates with human rights-monitoring bodies and experts within the United Nations and the Inter-American System of Human Rights to help these bodies assess the U.S. record on implementing human rights at home. 

U.N. Treaty Monitoring Bodies

The U.S. has ratified three of the eight major human rights treaties: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CAT). Ratification incorporates the treaties into U.S. law and imposes an international legal obligation that the U.S. implement the treaty's provisions through its laws and policies. Ratification also requires the U.S. to give a progress report every 4-6 years to each treaty's monitoring body and engage in a review process with the human rights experts who comprise the committee.

During every reporting cycle, the Center's U.S. Legal Program provides the appropriate treaty monitoring body with accurate and complete information to assist them in evaluating the U.S. record on reproductive rights. At the end of the review process, the committee issues its "concluding observations" on the government's progress in ensuring its laws, policies, and practices meet its obligations under international law. The Center has played a key role in ensuring that reproductive rights concerns are included in these observations and then translating the observations into domestic policy.

Learn more about the Center's advocacy before the ICCPR, ICERD, and CAT.

U.N. Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is a relatively new intergovernmental body that promotes state compliance with human rights obligations. Under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the Council reviews the human rights record of every UN member state once every four years—the U.S. has been reviewed once in November 2010.

Read about the Center's advocacy at the first Universal Periodic Review of the U.S.

The Human Rights Council appoints independent human rights experts to examine, monitor, advise, and publicly report on human rights situations around the world—sometimes in specific countries with a legacy of human rights violations, and sometimes on thematic issues, such as violence against women. These individuals, appointed as independent experts and special rapporteurs, are collectively called special procedures.

The Center provides these experts with crucial information about the legal background and practical barriers to rights implementation in the U.S. and around the world. These experts play a vital role in identifying emerging trends concerning individuals or rights at risk. They also develop human rights standards and practical guidelines for implementation, working with governments and civil society to eliminate barriers to the realization of rights.

Read about the Center's work to provide information about human rights violations in the United States to the following experts:

Inter-American Human Rights System

The Center's U.S. human rights program conducts advocacy with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its rapporteurs on thematic issues to ensure U.S. compliance with its regional human rights obligations under the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. To further its advocacy on recognizing abortion providers as human rights defenders, the Center filed an amicus brief before the Inter-American Commission and organized a thematic hearing with other advocates from the region on the topic of reproductive rights defenders.