The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
May 24, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Human and civil rights groups are calling on President Obama to issue an executive order that holds the United States accountable for its human rights commitments.
December 18, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations' adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – a comprehensive international treaty that outlines standards for ratifying countries to meet in the treatment and rights of women.
CEDAW is a critical tool that countries can use to promote the adoption of national laws, policies, and practices to ensure that women and girls live free from violence, have access to quality education, and have the right to participate fully in the economic, political, and social sectors of their society.
Ratifying countries must report to the U.N. every four years on their compliance with the treaty. It has been ratified by 186 countries. The United States is one of only seven countries that have not, along with Sudan, Iran, and Somalia.
The Leadership Conference is currently leading a campaign to urge the U.S. to ratify CEDAW. U.S. ratification of the treaty is critical to advancing women's rights and to restoring the credibility of the U.S. as a country committed to protecting human rights at home and abroad.
December 16, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, testified this morning before the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights about how a greater U.S. commitment to its international human rights obligations can strengthen civil rights at home.
The U.S. is a party to U.N. treaties and resolutions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Henderson said that if Congress played a more active role in pushing the U.S. to honor its human rights obligations, then more progress could be made on a number of critical domestic civil rights issues, including:
December 10, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The Leadership Conference President and CEO Wade Henderson shaking hands with other guests at the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights' annual International Human Rights Day program on December 10, 2009.
The Leadership Conference's president and CEO, Wade Henderson, received the Cornelius R. "Neil" Alexander Humanitarian Award today from the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights for his commitment to advancing the civil and human rights of all Americans.
"The fact that this award commemorates Neil Alexander means a great deal to me. As the human rights commission's chief hearing officer for 20 years, Neil Alexander was a tireless and largely unsung champion of civil and human rights. Our city and the struggle for equal justice benefitted immensely from his legal expertise and his leadership in enforcing the District's human rights law," Henderson said in his acceptance speech.
August 12, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
In his official statement for International Youth Day, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon praised young people around the world for their advocacy of sustainability issues despite the many challenges they face:
"[Y]oung people have proven themselves to be key partners in sustainable development. They have gotten involved in international forums such as the Commission on Sustainable Development, and have helped their governments and communities to formulate poverty reduction strategies, entrepreneurial schemes and many other policies and initiatives.
The sustainability theme is being incorporated into global and local efforts through an international photo competition entitled "Shoot Nations". A selection of photographs presented to the United Nations are on display at U.N. Headquarters in New York City through August 14.
July 28, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
President Obama recently announced that the United States will sign on to the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at a ceremony commemorating the 19th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"Until every American with a disability can learn in their local public school in the manner best for them, until they can apply for a job without fear of discrimination, and live and work independently in their communities if that's what they choose, we've got more work to do," said Obama.
Under the Convention, signatory nations are required to prohibit discrimination based on disability in employment, education, housing, medical care, and other areas and ensure that mass media like television, newspapers, and the internet is provided in accessible formats for the visually and hearing impaired. Nations are also required to collect data and research on people with disabilities to track and eliminate disparities in opportunity. A U.N. committee will monitor compliance with the treaty and review a comprehensive report to be submitted by signatory nations at least every four years.
In the fall of 2008, Congress overwhelmingly passed and President Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, which overturned recent Supreme Court decisions that had reduced protections for certain people with disabilities – including people with diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, mental disabilities, and cancer – who were intended to be covered by the original ADA. According to the Census Bureau, more than 54 million people in the U.S., or 19 percent of the population, have some level of a disability.
July 17, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa., July 4, 1993.
June 19, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
This year to commemorate World Refugee Day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urging wealthy nations to contribute more resources to organizations that help refugees around the world, who are facing challenges in their work because of the current global recession.
"The overwhelming burden of displacement is borne by developing countries," said António Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "Eighty percent of refugees are in the developing world. Generosity and wealth are not proportional to each other."
A refugee is a person seeking protection in a foreign country out of fear of political persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. According to UNHCR, there are more than 16 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide, many of whom are women and children.
UNHCR works to protect refugee rights, resolve refugee problems worldwide, and ensure that everyone can seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country. In 2000, UNHCR established June 20 as World Refugee Day, to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and salute their determination and courage. The date was selected to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, an international U.N. treaty that defined who is a refugee and what their rights are.
June 15, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
At a June 5 U.S. government-sponsored human rights panel discussion in Geneva, Switzerland, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR, called for the adoption of more effective hate crime laws in the United States. In his remarks, Henderson noted that in the U.S. "the number of hate crimes reported has consistently ranged around 7,500 or more annually—that's nearly one every hour of every day."
The number of hate crimes "committed against Hispanics and those perceived to be immigrants has increased each of the past four years for which FBI data is available" and violence against individuals "because of their sexual orientation has increased to its highest level in five years," according to Henderson. With the well-documented rise in hate crime violence in Europe, especially in the former Soviet Union countries, Henderson argued, the U.S. could demonstrate international leadership by tackling the spread of hate crimes at home.
LCCR supports the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would give the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate. It would also facilitate federal investigations and prosecutions when local authorities are unwilling or do not have the resources to do so themselves. The bill passed in the House of Representatives in April, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.
Henderson's impassioned plea for stronger hate crime laws came just five days before James W. von Brunn, a white supremacist and prolific writer of anti-Semitic materials, opened fire at the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., killing Stephen T. Johns, an African-American museum guard.
May 15, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
On Tuesday, the United States won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Each of the 47 members of the council is not only responsible for promoting human rights abroad, but they are also responsible for setting a high standard for human rights in their own countries. In support of its candidacy, the U.S. pledged to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons within the United States."
Civil and human rights advocates saw the U.S.' decision to join the council as an opportunity for the Obama administration to embrace human rights principles and address certain issues, like racial profiling, life sentences without parole for juveniles, Katrina recovery. Many of those same recommendations were echoed in a recent U.N. report on U.S. race relations and human rights (PDF).
In 2008, human rights scholar Catherine Powell recommended that the incoming administration put together a working group of experts and senior officials from various federal agencies including the departments of Justice, State, Defense, Homeland Security and others to ensure greater integration of human rights principles in domestic policy. Such a group could be created by an executive order by the president.
Earlier this year, LCCREF issued a report calling for Congress to broaden the mandate of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights so that it could monitor compliance with international human rights treaties on the federal, state, and local level.
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