Oct 03, 2019

UPR Report: Unrepresented People of the United States of America

The UNPO has submitted a report to the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighting the long-standing denial of voting and representation rights to the the people of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories.The report was submitted the framework of the 36th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights in the United States of America, which is being conducted in 2020. It highlights the often-forgotten link between the history of racial segregation in the USA and the denial of the voting rights of the inhabitants of the US Territories and the District of Columbia, the majority of whom are both US citizens or nationals, and ethnic or racial minorities or indigenous peoples.

The UPR is a mechanism designed to monitor how recognised states at the UN implement the Treaties they are subject to in terms of Human Rights.

The submission provides additional information on the implementation of civil and political rights in the United States of America (U.S.A. or U.S.). It focusses on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Liberties (ICCPR or the Covenant) and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the disenfranchisement of the people of the District of Columbia and the five, permanently-inhabited, “unincorporated” U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands). Because of legal restrictions on the citizenship rights of these people, currently over 4 million people in the U.S.A. are summarily denied the right to vote by law simply on account of their national origin, birth or place of residence in direct contravention of U.S. obligations contained in the ICCPR and the CERD.

In light of the discrimination listed in the submission, the UNPO asks the U.S.A. to:

i. Allow all Citizens and Nationals of the U.S.A. the right to participate on equal basis in the elections for the U.S. President.

ii. Grant full and equal representation in the U.S. Congress to the people of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories, by for instance, putting the elected representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives on an equal footing with other representatives, and giving the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories representation in the U.S. Senate.

iii. Take steps to ensure that the will of the people in the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories with regards to the question of their political status is adequately accorded by, for instance, ensuring a process towards statehood in light of the referenda results in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and by determining a way through which the indigenous populations of U.S. colonial possessions can adequately express their political will.

To read the full UNPO Alternative UPR Report on U.S.A. click here.

Photo Courtesy: Ted Avtan Flickr