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set forth in the international declarations and agreements in this field (human rights and fundamental freedoms), including, inter alia, the International Covenants on Human Rights, by which they may be bound.”
Human rights will be a major topic of discussion at the review conference next November. Citizens groups like the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee have been studying the U.S. compliance record to foster implementation of the Accords. We believe it imperative for the U.S. to make major strides in this direction over the next year, not only because we have a moral obligation to do so, but also to strengthen the United States in its efforts to aid the victims of human rights abuses in the other Helsinki nations.
President Carter signed the Covenants the day after the last Helsinki review conference opened in Belgrade in 1977. This forestalled questions as to the sincerity of the United States' concern for human rights which might have resulted from our failure to accede to the Covenants. If we have not ratified, however, by the beginning of the Madrid conference the United States will be extremely vulnerable to criticism. Consider, as an example of what our Ambassador to the Madrid conference will face, the following summary of a telling attack delivered by the Soviet delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1966:
“An objective analysis of the political orientation of the proposal so ardently supported by the United States and its allies soon revealed that the proposal was designed to give world public opinion the impression of active participation in the cause of human rights by States which in practice obstinately refused to fulfill their obligations under the multilateral international conventions in the field of human rights drawn up under the auspices of the U.N. and its Specialized Agencies. The U.S. representative had admitted that the U.S. had lagged behind in that sphere. That was an understatement; he would mention some of the conventions which the U.S. had not ratified.”
The Soviet delegate proceeded to cite examples, including the human rights instruments which are the subject of these hearings. While this argument-coming from a nation which is a party to the Covenants, the Accords, and number of other human rights agreements but has failed to adhere to them in practice-may be called hypocritical, it could nevertheless blunt the effectiveness of U.S. human rights efforts. This is all the more true because 21 of the 35 Helsinki states, including all of the Warsaw Pact nations, have ratified the Covenants.
The U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee therefore respectfully requests that the Covenants be ratified before November of 1980. We also request that the President and the Senate approve the Optional Protocol to the Civil and Political Rights Covenant, which allows individuals to appeal to the Human Rights Committee. The Committee's jurisdiction has been used already in a case involving Uruguay, but we of course have not been able to participate in the consideration of this case, or even in the election of Committee members.
The United States has a domestic record on human rights in which it has reason to take pride. It has acted unilaterally on several occasions since the beginning of the Carter Administration to aid those abroad suffering the excesses of repressive regimes. The time has now come for the United States to bind itself to the other nations of the world in furtherance of the human rights cause.
Senator PELL. Thank you very much, Mr. Carey.
HELSINKI Watch COMMITTEE FOR THE UNITED STATES
Employment Project Director, Center for National Policy Review, a public interest research and advocacy law firm in Washington.
Faculty of Law, Catholic University Law School, teaching courses in Public International Law, and International Organizations and Human Rights, on an adjunct basis.
Fellow, Legal Services Corporation, doing an analysis of the poverty and civil rights impacts of the Federal government's employment assistance programs, including the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.
Chair, Subcommittee on Human Rights Education, American Bar Association (under the International Law Section's Human Rights Committee).
PREVIOUS ACTIVITIES Human Rights Office (Application of Standards Division) International Labor Organization, United Nations, Geneva (June through August, 1977), preparing guidelines for ILO's initial reports on compliance on member nations with the new United Nations Covenants on Human Rights.
Recipient of National Science Foundation Grant to direct a research project and write a report evaluating problems of discrimination un er the General Revenue Sharing program, and the effectiveness of federal efforts to assure equal opportunity (1974-75).
Chair, Federal Interagency Racial Data Committee, evaluating the need for, and the extent of use of racial/ethnic data on program beneficiaries by federal agencies administering major programs of assistance (1969–71).
Trial Attorney, Federal Programs Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, working on preparation and trial of cases involving voting rights, and discrimination under programs receiving federal grant assistance (1965–70).
Legal Assistant to Frank McCulloch, Chair, National Labor Relations Board doing legal research and drafting of N.L.R.B. decisions (1963-64).
“Civil Rights Under General Revenue Sharing,” National Science Foundation, July, 1975.
"The Impact of Revenue Sharing on Minorities and the Poor”, Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review, Volume 10, Winter 1975, pp. 93-136 (reprinted in the Congressional Record, and in “A Selection of Recent Revenue Sharing Research,” a report of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations.
“The Racial Data Policies and Capabilities of the Federal Government,” two volume report of the Interagency Racial Data Committee, April, 1971 and December, 1972.
Submitted for publication, “Equity Under CETA,” Issues and problems Facing Minorities, Women and the Poor Under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, researched an written as a Fellow of the Legal Services Corporation Research Institute, August, 1978.
Yale Law School, J.D. 1963 Appointed by Faculty as Student Assistant in Instruction for Legal Research Class for first year students, based on high class standing (26 of 175 at end of first year).
Served as Student Advisor with the Yale Moot Court of Appeals, and worked with the Public Defenders Office.
Vew York University, B.A. Magna Cum Laude, with Honors in Economics, 1960 Murry Altman Prize in Economics; Novice Debate Award; First Prize Sandham Oratory Contest; Second Prize Sandham Extempore Contest; Debate Championship (First Place speaker) Metropolitan New York Intercollegiate Debate Championship (1958).
Elected President of the John Marshall Pre-Law Society, and Vice-President of the Debate Team.
Elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and honorary societies for Political Science, Economics and Forensics.
Elected to the Board of Directors, and as Treasurer, Alexandria Legal Aid Society, Alexandria, Virginia (1970-75).
Member of the Bar of the District of Columbia.
RECOMMENDATIONS Harold C. Fleming, President of the Potomac Institute, and Chair of the Federal Programs Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, (202) 332-5566.
David B. Filvaroff, former Special Assistant to the Attorney General, and Professor of Law, University of Texas Law School, (512) 471-5151.
Peggy Lampl, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of the United States, (202) 296–1779.
Pablo Eisenberg, President, Center for Community Change (202) 338-7540. James A. Thomas, Assistant Dean, Yale Law School, (203) 436-2211.
STATEMENT OF MORTON H. SKLAR, CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON, D.C.
OFFICE OF THE HELSINKI WATCH COMMITTEE FOR THE UNITED STATES
Mr. SKLAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am here to represent the Washington Helsinki Watch Committee for the United States. Our group is a coalition of approximately 20 national organizations working on civil rights, civil liberties, and economic and social issues in this .country. It was organized early in 1978 as a citizen-based effort to evaluate the status of our Nation's compliance with the Helsinki Final Act and the human rights instruments incorporated in the act by reference.
Our coordinating committee includes organizations such as the Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Women's Policy Studies, the Indian Law Resource Center, the International Human Rights Law Group, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, the Micronesian Legal Services Corp., the Movement for Economic Justice, the National Urban League, and the U.S. Catholic Conference.
I would like to highlight some of the major points of my statement rather than read it in full.
These major points are the following:
First: The United States is in substantial noncompliance with moral commitments and legal obligations that are acknowledged in the Helsinki Final Act because of its failure to ratify the human rights treaties.
Second: The United States will be roundly and justifiably criticized at the Helsinki followup conference in Madrid and in other Helsinki fora for this failure.
Third: This criticism not only will prove an embarrassment to us in moral terms and in terms of our foreign policy, but it will undermine our Government's very vital and commendable efforts to obtain human rights compliance from other nations of the world and our efforts to obtain a higher commitment to the values of human freedom and democracy worldwide.
Fourth: There is no real reason for our Nation not to ratify in terms of our proven ability to remedy human rights deficiencies that do exist in this country.
Fifth: The reservations proposed to the treaties amount to an abrogation of the treaties' human rights standards and an abrogation of our Helsinki Agreement commitments in many areas, almost as great as the failure to ratify itself.
As to the first point, in terms of the United States being in noncompliance with the Helsinki Final Act, under the Helsinki Agreement the United States commits itself to carry out the international human rights obligations by which we are bound. The four human rights treaties you are considering set out the basic human rights principles that have been subscribed to by virtually every nation, including our own, through the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Moreover, nearly all nations have come to accept the universality of these standards. More than 100 have ratified the Racial Discrimination Convention; nearly as many have ratified the covenants; and a majority of American States have ratified the American Convention. In the face of this general acceptance of these standards, our Helsinki commitments are being violated by not making these universally accepted human rights standards part of our own system of laws through ratification.
The second point has been talked about before and is pretty selfevident, that is that we will be subject to a considerable amount of criticism in the international community and at Helsinki followup conferences because of the failure to ratify. I would like to stress one of the elements of that embarrassment and that difficulty that arises because of the criticism.
Our efforts abroad to achieve human rights and a greater commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and human dignity will be very severely damaged. Obtaining human rights observance abroad is not just part of our moral values. It is vitally connected to our national self-interest in securing a higher level of commitment and practice from other nations in support of the basic principles that underlie the human rights treaties: Rights of free speech, equal protection under laws, right of assembly, fair trial, economic and job security-all the rights that are the basic cornerstones of our own democratic system.
Our country and our system lose when other nations derogate from these principles. The ability of our own values to survive is damaged when these values are not observed by other governments. But we are in a very poor position to press for these values abroad, to alert countries of their violations and to suggest improvements so long as we ourselves are seen to be in basic noncompliance.
This is how we are seen because of the act of failure to ratify these human rights treaties. Our efforts with others also are undercut by our failure to ratify because until we become a party to these agreements we can have little or no voice to help shape and improve the international procedures used to monitor and assure compliance.
We condemn the international procedures as inadequate, as, for example, as being too slow in dealing with complaints and cases. But when the principal enforcement unit for the covenant, the Human Rights Committee, was first meeting in New York and Geneva to organize its procedures, as it debated questions like the time limits for dealing with cases, and the complaint procedures, the U.S. representative was sitting by the sidelines. We cannot influence what happens when we are sitting by the sidelines in that way.
Every American loses when a citizen of another country faces repression and a loss of human rights. We lose because we see human dignity trampled in the dust, and a part of us is buried in the process. We lose because our ability to maintain the values for ourselves ultimately is dependent on the willingness of other nations to support these principles in their own right.
We cannot preserve freedom and human dignity alone. We must be part of a worldwide effort and a joint commitment of all nations to be
. kept to that high mark. We are not fully participating in that effort without ratification.
As to the last point which I think is very vital, we should be proud of what we have achieved as a Nation. Yet, it is almost our very idealism that seems to make us reluctant to participate in the human rights treaties. We seem afraid to be criticized for the remaining deficiencies that we do have, and so we shy away from participation even though our overall record is good and the ability of our system of laws to correct remaining problems has proven itself capable and effective when our national awareness and national conscience have been touched.
Isn't it time that we shed this reluctance to acknowledge our strengths, our capabilities for achieving reform? Isn't it time we stand up in the world community for the values that are most important to our own people, both in their exercise of them here and in our ability to maintain the viability of our values and our system in a world community that too often deviates from these values in the treatment of its own citizens?
Let me mention one example that gives graphic emphasis to the fallaciousness of our fear of ratifying. The ILO (International Labor Organization) has about 100 conventions on labor standards. Our nation has been in the forefront of establishing protections for workers. Yet we have not signed more than 10 of the ILO conventions. Why? It is because there seems to be an irrational fear in us about the notion of accepting, of being bound by other people's laws, other people's standards. That is the basic flaw and the basic error. The ILO conventions and these human rights treaties which you are considering are not other people's laws. They are our own laws. We played the largest part in shaping them and we stand the most to gain by their observance.
So we should not shy away from acknowledging and embracing the children of our own system of laws and Government and our own dedication to the principles of human worth and dignity.
I also would stress the problem of the reservations themselves and our inclusion of so many, especially with respect to the self-executing nature of the treaties, as being another aspect of our noncompliance with the Helsinki Agreement. It is an unfortunate model to present to other nations that we are suggesting by reservation that we can make the terms of the treaties non-self-executing until they are ratified by the legislature.
These reservations and derogations leave us subject to the same criticisms as the failure to ratify itself. They slight and trivialize the importance of the results we are trying to achieve for ourselves and for other people worldwide. They undermine our efforts to support the principles of human dignity and freedom.
I have one final point. I would concur with Mr. Carey's mentioning of the Protocol. This is something which unfortunately was omitted from the President's message and his signature of the treaties. I think it is vital that it be part of the process because it would allow for private complaints and individual action on violations.
I have heard too many people say that we do not need to ratify these treaties because these human rights standards already are a part of our system. How much more appropriate, more rational, and more in support of our worldwide and national interests would it be to say instead that we readily acknowledge, through ratification, what is fundamental to the American system and to our commitment to law and justice. Ratification is the first step necessary for us to begin to work with all nations in giving greater meaning to these principles both here and abroad.
Thank you very much.
[The Washington Helsinki Watch Committee's prepared statement follows:)