Opening Statement by Steven Hill, National Security Council at the White House at the U.S. Presentation to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning the U.S. Report on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Report)
As Submitted for the Record
Madam Chairperson, Distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee today as a representative of the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC is one of several components at the White House working with colleagues across the U.S. government on Biden-Harris Administration’s historic efforts to advance equity and racial justice.
President Biden has put human rights at the center of our foreign policy. One way we are implementing the President’s vision is through our renewed engagement with the United Nations human rights system, including the treaty bodies. The robust size, breadth of expertise, and diversity of our delegation here this week is a testament to this engagement.
The United States is committed to effective domestic implementation of the obligations of the United States under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and other human rights treaties to which we are a party.
At the federal level, this requires a collective effort by all relevant departments and agencies as well as government-wide policies to make full use of the multiple complementary protections and mechanisms that we use to implement our obligations under the Convention.
For example, the offices represented here today all have as part of their mission the promotion of respect for human rights and civil liberties.
We are also honored to include the Mayor of Atlanta and members of the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California as part of the delegation. These officials can illustrate how their state and local jurisdictions play a crucial role in protecting and respecting human rights. I also want to highlight the role of numerous state and local human rights institutions in this crucial work.
We are aware that there is an ongoing debate about what additional steps we can take to implement international human rights commitments in our domestic context. We are taking part in this week’s meetings in the spirit of respect and in recognition of the fact that the mission of advancing human rights is a long-term struggle with persisting challenges that must be continuously addressed.
The CERD consultation process is one of many ways in which the Administration seeks input from stakeholders, and we will continue efforts to improve our outreach to underserved communities to ensure government policies are informed by the broadest cross-section of Americans. I would like to thank all of the civil society groups that have joined us here in Geneva in person or online.
We have appreciated the robust input from civil society during our consultation process leading up to today, which has included participation from the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, and numerous federal agencies, including those here today.
We are committed to continuing this engagement moving forward, following the Committee’s recommendations.
We are also committed to ensuring the Committee’s recommendations inform the Administration’s policy and activities, including the Administration’s efforts to implement the President’s Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
We welcome continued dialogue, follow-up discussions, and recommendations on how to best structure interagency efforts to build on the essential work we are doing together this week.