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Global Justice Center Blog

International Committee on Racial Discrimination Calls on US to Protect Abortion Rights

NEW YORK — The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today called on the United States to take all necessary measures — at the federal and state level — to provide safe, legal, and effective access to abortion in line with its international human rights obligations.

The recommendation came as part of the committee’s “concluding observations” following its review of US compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which the US ratified in 1994. For more on US obligations on reproductive rights under ICERD, see this factsheet.

The concluding observations specifically noted the recent Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, citing its “profound disparate impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of racial and ethnic minorities.”

The committee questioned the US government in Geneva on August 11 and 12. During this session, it raised US abortion restrictions numerous times. The members were particularly concerned about disproportionate access to safe abortion for Black, brown, and indigenous women, as well as the prosecution of those seeking abortions post-Dobbs.

Dr. Christine Ryan, legal director at the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Make no mistake, the international community put the United States on notice today for the racist impacts of its recent regression on abortion rights. Even before the conservative majority on the Supreme Court overruled the constitutional right to abortion, they had dismantled abortion access for decades. Black, brown & indigenous women seeking abortion faced profound and disproportionate obstacles. After Dobbs, they’re facing nothing short of a gross and systemic human rights crisis.

“Today’s recommendation on abortion is well within the committee’s mandate. ICERD prohibits racial discrimination in access to healthcare and requires the elimination of laws that perpetuate racial discrimination. Abortion restrictions in the US violate these measures at every turn. Forced travel for abortion is more difficult for women of color. Coerced pregnancy is more dangerous. And criminalization will target them at higher rates.

“This is also a critical moment of international accountability for the United States. For too long, the US government has failed to fully implement the very human rights framework it helped create. The international community should take every opportunity to interrogate the state of human rights in the US and commit to reversing this damaging trend.”

President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

Dear Mr. President:

We write because your administration’s consistently yielding response to the Israeli government’s escalating attacks against prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups over the past 10 months has put the safety and well-being of Palestinian human rights defenders at serious risk. We call for immediate action in response to the Israeli government’s latest escalation so as to curtail any further imminent repressive tactics by Israeli authorities and ensure Palestinian civil society is free to continue its critical work.

Last week, in a significant escalation, Israeli military forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and community organizations in the occupied West Bank on 18 August 2022, sealing shut their doors, ordering them closed, and seizing computers and other confidential materials. In the following days, directors of the organizations were summoned by the Israeli military and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for interrogation. All staff are currently under threat of imminent arrest and prosecution. While many in the international community were swift to condemn the Israeli governments shameful political maneuver in October 2021 designating leading Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” under Israel’s draconian Counter-Terrorism Law, your administration has refused to act or reject this clear attack on Palestinian civil society, and even took affirmative steps including canceling the valid U.S. visa held by the head of one of the targeted organizations. The response so far has only enabled and empowered the Israeli government to sustain and escalate its repression.

The targeted organizations form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, and justice and accountability for international crimes. They include: Defense for Children International - Palestine, Al Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. They are trusted partners in our collective work to secure human rights for all.

Read the Full Letter

Reproductive Rights Are Under Attack. Climate Change Will Make It Worse.

Excerpt of Women's Media Center op-ed authored by GJC Legal Intern Dakota Porter.

In the wake of ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court quietly limited the EPA’s power to combat climate change with their decision in West Virginia v. EPA. The decision prevents a nationwide cap on carbon emissions, allowing states with extractive industries and massive carbon outputs to go under-regulated. So, just as the court has paved the way for states to deny essential reproductive health care, it has also cemented the country’s position as one of the biggest contributors to climate change in the world.

These two cases are more connected than you may think.

Climate change, and the inevitable mass migration it has already unleashed, heightens the need for sexual and reproductive health services — the crisis is linked to higher rates of infectious diseases, gender-based violence, and disability, which all influence reproductive outcomes. Unfortunately, in the wake of natural disasters, the availability of and access to such health services is sparse or absent. When drought, floods, hurricanes, or other disasters strike, climate change strains the government’s and the humanitarian sector’s abilities to provide resources like contraception and STI testing.

As our understanding of the relationship between climate change, migration, and reproductive rights grows, it’s time we demand action that takes these intersecting harms into account.

Read the Article

The Rohingya Genocide — 5 Years Later

The Rohingya genocide began on August 25, 2017. The so-called “clearance operations” were marked by murder, sexual violence, and community destruction on a massive scale. UN experts, the United States government, and others have recognized this genocide. Yet, justice continues to be denied to the Rohingya.

Along with our partners at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, we commemorate this historic crime and continue to stand in solidarity with the Rohingya and their struggle for justice.