U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
June 4, 2021
Periodic Report of the United States of America to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The United States is committed to addressing the challenges of systemic racism both at home and abroad, including the structures, policies, laws, and practices that sustain racial injustices. Any pledge to advance human rights around the world must begin with a pledge to advance human rights at home.
On June 2, 2021, consistent with our obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the United States submitted its combined tenth, eleventh, and twelfth periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The report sets out the measures the United States undertook to address racial discrimination in the United States since submission of the previous U.S. periodic report on June 12, 2013. With input from over a dozen federal government agencies, the report highlights actions that redress racial and ethnic discrimination in the United States, including on:
Advancing a Whole of Government Approach to Equity and Racial Justice: On his first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 which directed federal agencies to take a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. The Executive Order established that affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of the United States Government.
Healthcare: Through Executive Order 13995, President Biden established a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to make recommendations to eliminate health and social disparities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization, and death related to COVID-19, and for preventing such inequities in the future. The Task Force has established a subcommittee on Structural Drivers of Health Inequity and Xenophobia that will provide recommendations to ensure the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19 promotes an equitable recovery from this crisis and mitigates anti-Asian xenophobia and bias.
Addressing xenophobia and Nativism. In his first week in office, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combatting Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The Memorandum acknowledges that during the COVID-19 crisis, political leaders have at times played a role in furthering xenophobic sentiments against Asian Americans, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin. Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes. The President’s Memorandum charged all federal agencies with taking steps to ensure their official actions mitigate and end xenophobia and nativism against Asian American communities.
Immigration: The United States is committed to a fair and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows newcomers and U.S. citizens alike to more fully contribute to our country. Presidential Executive Order 13993 on The Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities communicates the current baseline values and priorities for immigration law enforcement. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will implement revised enforcement priorities after a comprehensive review of immigration enforcement policies, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already issued interim guidance on its civil immigration enforcement and removal priorities.
Hate Crimes: In May, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, bipartisan legislation that will expedite and strengthen the federal government’s response to hate crimes and bias-motivated acts of violence. In addition, the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) leads a DHS-wide Equity Task Force to ensure the principles of racial equity are implemented throughout DHS’s policies, programs, and activities.
Racial Justice and Climate Change: The United States is committed to addressing climate change and helping communities adapt to climate change, including vulnerable populations and communities of color who are disproportionately impacted.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Building Resilience Against Climate Effects framework includes identifying at-risk communities and incorporates justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into climate adaptation planning. Agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Air and Space Administration (NASA), collect data relevant to the health impacts of climate change on communities of color.
Right to Vote: Executive Order 14019 promotes voting access, using federal resources to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting, including for citizens in federal custody; establish an interagency steering group on Native American voting rights; and direct the U.S. Attorney General to support formerly incarcerated individuals in obtaining identification to satisfy state laws on voter identification.
Housing Discrimination: President Biden directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that have contributed to wealth inequality for generations. On January 26, 2021, President Biden’s Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies instructed HUD to take all steps necessary to examine the effects of its rules on disparate impact and affirmatively furthering fair housing to ensure compliance with HUD’s statutory duty to implement the Fair Housing Act’s discriminatory effects standard.
Education: In 2019, the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act was enacted, providing permanent funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions serving over two million students each year. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) discharged approximately $1.6 billion of debt for 45 HBCUs under the HBCU Capital Financing Program.
Gender-Based Violence in Native Communities: Since 2015, DOJ has implemented the Tribal Access Program, which provides federally recognized Tribal Nations direct access to federal criminal information databases, enabling Tribes to submit criminal history information that may disqualify domestic violence offenders from receiving firearms. DOJ’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) launched its National Baseline Study on crime and victimization committed against American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women living in Indian Country and Alaska Native villages.
The full report can be found on the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies website.