The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued yesterday its Concluding Observations on the United States (CCPR/C/USA/CO/4). The Committee periodically reviews the performance of all States Party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (the “ICCPR”) as part of the agreement and obligations of those States. This is the fourth cycle of regular country reviews; the USA was last reviewed in 2006.

While acknowledging US support for the principles of the ICCPR and the role of international human rights law, the report highlights numerous deficiencies in US application of international and treaty standards.

In particular, the Committee criticized:

  • The US position that its treaty obligations do not extend to individuals under its jurisdiction and control but outside the territory of the US;
  • The absence of robust avenues for enforcing treaty rights at the State and local levels;
  • The limited number of investigations (much less prosecutions and convictions) in respect of serious allegations of breach including unlawful killing and torture;
  • Racial disparities and racial profiling within the justice system;
  • The continued extensive use of the death penalty, again disproportionately in cases involving African-Americans;
  • Targeted killings (assassinations) by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“Drones”);
  • High levels of gun violence, including excessive use of deadly force by law enforcement;
  • The failure to close the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay;
  • Mistreatment of immigrants;
  • NSA surveillance;
  • State-level disenfranchisement of voting rights; and
  • Failure to adequately protect indigenous rights and lands.

The Committee’s concluding observations highlight additional areas of concern and also provide specific recommendations for addressing each identified shortcoming.

The current report as well as past Committee Reports, Observations, and Party Submissions are available for each nation that is a State Party to the ICCPR on the Commission’s website.