In yet another example of the US’ backpedaling from multilateralism/international organizations, the Trump Administration has failed to nominate a representative to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the latest in series of US withdrawals from international treaties and supporting organizations.
CERD, which is made up of 18 international experts on racism and international human rights law serving in their personal capacity, will continue to review the practices of the US regardless.
The move comes at a time when the US’s mandatory submission for periodic review to the CERD is almost a year and a half overdue. In 2017, the CERD issued an early warning after President Trump failed to denounce anti-semitism at the race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Heather Heyer was murdered. Recently, 90 groups urged US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism to investigate racial discrimination and xenophobia in the US.
Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the ways the Trump administration has fueled a rise in xenophobia and racism. Human Rights Watch also recently brought a number of troubling rights violations to the attention of the UN Human Rights Committee, including racial bias and disparities in criminal justice, healthcare, and the experience of poverty. In the case of transgender women of color, they’re suffering all three.
Attacks on immigrants’ rights are also of concern to CERD. The US Commission on Civil Rights recently held a hearing, where Human Rights Watch testified, to determine whether to update their severely critical 2015 report on immigration detention given the dramatically expanded number of people this administration is detaining.
At the Southern Border, asylum seekers have been returned to await their hearings under unsafe and unhealthy circumstances. Others have been subjected to abusive regimes of family detention or family separation. Against this troubling backdrop, CERD’s role in holding this US Administration, like all of those prior, accountable for racially discriminatory abuses, is especially critical.