The United Nations Human Rights System

Four United Nations human rights documents explicitly prohibit racial discrimination: the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

A relatively new UN human rights mechanism is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process which involves a review of the human rights record of all 192 member states of the United Nations every four years. The U.S. underwent a first UPR in November 2010. Before and during the U.S. UPR, member states as diverse as Mexico to Malaysia to Egypt to Guatemala expressed great concern with the persistence of racial and ethnic profiling in the United States. Rights Working Group submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council in advance of the U.S. UPR.

Rights Working Group has submitted several other reports to the United Nations documenting violations of human rights in the United States. Learn more about the United Nations human rights system and how to use it to address human rights violations in the U.S. by reading our issue briefs and reports:

Issue Brief: Racial Profiling and International Human Rights Law

Issue Brief: United Nations Treaty Bodies and Special Rapporteurs

Issue Brief: The Universal Periodic Review

2010 ACLU/RWG Shadow Report to the CERD Committee

2010 UN CERD Committee Letter and Recommendations to the U.S.

2010 Rights Working Group UPR Report on Racial Profiling