The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination



Dear IAOHRA Members,

March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination--a valuable opportunity for state and local agencies and officials to express support for the universal norms of dignity, equality and fairness set forth in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("CERD"), an international human rights treaty that the U.S. ratified CERD in 1994.

Attached is a resource packet that you and your local partners can use in efforts to secure local government support for advancing racial equality through CERD. The resource packet includes information on CERD, sample local resolutions and sample letters to other agencies and officials in your jurisdiction regarding local recognition of human rights.

The attached materials are part of a national effort by the Human Rights at Home Campaign and the US Human Rights Network to launch a national call for the Obama Administration to develop a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice in the United States. (More information is included below on the calls for a National Plan of Action, including a petition and open letter that you and your partners can sign. Information is also available on the U.S.HRN website).


1.   AN INFORMATIONAL FLYER ON CERD: The informational flyer provides basic background information on CERD and the benefits of using this international human rights treaty in local decision-making. It also provides examples how U.S. cities are incorporating the treaty into local law and policy.

2.   SAMPLE RESOLUTIONS: Two draft resolutions are included: a sample resolution urging the federal government to adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice, as well as a resolution calling for local government to take additional steps to incorporate CERD into local policy.   These resolutions are meant to be tailored to address local community concerns and needs and then presented to local agencies and officials.

3.   SAMPLE LETTERS: The resource includes two letters that can be sent to local human rights champions to urge local support for CERD by passing local resolutions. One resolution expresses support for the U.S. to adopt a national action plan on racial justice and one resolution commits to integration of CERD into local policy. The letters should also be customized to reflect each particular local context.


These materials are a means to express local support for the role of human rights in ensuring equality and dignity, as reflected by the principles of CERD. They can also be used to raise awareness of human rights principles locally.

March 21st is a valuable opportunity to support racial equality and human rights and we hope these materials aid your local efforts to bring human rights home. If you have any questions or plan to pass a local resolution, you can contact me at





JoAnn Kamuf Ward

Associate Director, Human Rights in the US Project

Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School





On March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) and the Human Rights at Home Campaign will launch a national call for the Obama Administration to develop a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice in consultation with communities directly affected by structural racism in the United States.

We will deliver an open letter and petition to the White House on March 21st calling on the Administration to adopt a comprehensive plan-a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice-that outlines how it intends to meet its human rights obligations to end racial inequality, inequity, and discrimination. The U.S. has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and is obligated to address structural racism. The National Plan of Action will identify concrete steps the Obama Administration intends to take to fully comply with ICERD.


The USHRN is asking that organizations sign on to the statement by March 19th. We would like to get organizational representation from every state. Individuals can sign the petition.

Please forward widely! We look forward to your active participation in helping us gather endorsements for the statement and petition signatures.


You can contact the USHRN's Membership Coordinator, Sacajawea Hall at with any questions about the National Action Plan or the petition.