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Berkeley Makes Required Reports to the Department of State

Berkeley Makes Required Reports to the Department of State

Every city, county and state agency that receives federal funding must make a report on how the money was spent. This includes virtually every local agency dealing with expenditures for highways, education, hospitals and health care, parks and recreation, and state and local police.

Since the federal government knows how to ask for, and receive, timely reports on all of these local activities, it can use this knowledge to obtain reports from cities, counties and states on each of the rights and duties of local governments under the three human rights reporting treaties, according to Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (MCLI). These reports must cover allegations of violations and enforcement of laws against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, political or other opinion, disability, sexual orientation, or property (ICCPR Art. 2.1, and CERD all articles). The reports should include protections of the right to life against nuclear dangers under Art. 6.1; for example.

The U.S. federal government made commitments to make periodic reports at the city, county and state levels under each of the three human rights reporting treaties that it ratified. The first reports at the local level under each treaty were due in 1997 and 1998.

In telephone conversations with the official in charge of the reporting process in the Department of State in mid-November, 2003, MCLI was told that very few local governments had made the reports on first request, and that there was no budget for obtaining these reports. When asked how other government agencies obtain reports from local governments under other laws, the State Department official said she did not know.

In view of the fact that a great many of the violations of human rights alleged in the media and by many NGOs in the U.S. since 9/11 occurred at the local or regional level, it is clear that no U.S. report can be complete or accurate unless it includes coverage of these local events. Federal funding of various local government departments requires reports by the local agencies to federal funding agencies that could be used in reports to the DOS for their treaty reports. Where necessary, the rules for the expenditure of money from the federal government should be amended to include requirements to make the reports that are required under the three ratified human rights reporting treaties.

In a pioneering move, at its April 20, 1993 meeting, the Berkeley, CA City Council adopted Resolution 56,919, N.S. supporting the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and widespread publication of the ICCPR. Then the Council encouraged all concerned City Commissions to establish Task Forces to work with NGOs to prepare reports for inclusion in the U.S. Report. September 27, 1993, the Peace and Justice Commission voted to recommend to the City Council that reports from the Commission on the Status of Women and Berkeley Labor Commission be forwarded to the U.S. State Department for inclusion in its first report to the UN Human Rights Committee, and to President Clinton, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton as Head of the Capital Task Force on Health Care Reform.

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