Creating a National Human Rights Institute
A Step Towards Eliminating Racial Discrimination
There is an immense social, emotional, psychological and generational impact on marginalized individuals who experience and witness racial injustice perpetuated against civilians in America by law enforcement officials or others in positions of authority.
The goal of this thesis is to make a case for implementing a national human rights institute in the United States of America as mandated by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD or the Convention).
The Convention appears to be a recourse for innumerable race-motivated attacks that do not receive justice in their local jurisdictions. In theory, the Convention could elevate racial violence by state actors from localized civil rights issues to human rights violations with international visibility and accountability.
American society may have progressed and integrated significantly since the Civil Rights Era, but in instances of excessive police brutality and racial discrimination, progress is hard to recognize. Perhaps it’s naïve to believe it is possible for America to cleanse itself fully of racial discrimination. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect the federal government to comply with the requirements of the Convention when compliance necessitates acknowledgement and acceptance of the consequences of America’s foundation of slavery and its penchant for subjugating people through race laws. Or perhaps it isn’t naïve or unreasonable at all. Perhaps eliminating all forms of racial discrimination begins with making a plan and choosing to take one step at a time towards the goal.
Concepts and Definitions
Civil rights are legally constructed and apply to citizens of a nation or state. They are intended to protect people from discrimination (based on gender, race, or religion) and grant them freedoms (of speech, assembly, press, due process, etc.) (HG Legal Resources 2015).
Human rights are fundamental for every person and are considered necessities of the human experience. Basic human rights include the right to life, education, protection from torture, free expression and a fair trial (HG Legal Resources 2015).
National human rights institutions are state bodies with a constitutional and/or legislative mandate to protect and promote human rights. They are part of the State and are funded by the State, however they operate independent of the State. NHRIs are the cornerstone of the national human rights protection system and function as a bridge between international human rights norms and governments (United Nations 2010).