Eric Tars is a staff attorney at the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), which works to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the US movement to end homelessness. Tars is in Geneva for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
You can watch Tars present NLCHP’s testimony to the committee on the committee on the disparate racial impact of homelessness in the United States, here. In addition, Tars has been posing this vlog report-backs and updates on the Hub for the past four days here, here, here, and here.
These are a few of the new ways that we’re seeing individuals and groups use the Hub as a tool for quick report-backs and updates that link to a group’s efforts to advance human rights. Check out NLCHP’s Hub group page and their latest action alert to stop Congress from cutting homeless programs.
Also, you might want to check-out US Human Rights Network’s CERD Project and their CERD blog — and their video reports from their work in New Orleans and their Katrina and Internally Displaced Person’s Campaign.
Here’s Tars’ Latest Dispatch
Today was a day of ups and downs. Up: we had a great information sharing session this morning with some of the more experienced international activists helping some of the newer folks get a handle on the UN system. We then proceeded to divide up into working groups to work collectively to prepare answers for our briefing tomorrow morning with the Committee. This is so whatever questions we get asked, we will answer the question, but then bridge back to all the essential issues we want to be sure the Committee is paying attention to. This process is important for the actions with the Committee, but the silent benefits of working together, hearing each other, learning that we all have contributions that we can and should make to the joint effort is priceless.
Down: We learned today that the St. Bernard public housing development is being torn down as we speak. People’s belongings that they have never been able to get because the development has been blocked off since Katrina are being tossed out of the apartments in giant heaps. Families lives – photos, childhood drawings and letters, are being trashed and people’s homes are being destroyed. It makes the work we’re doing here all the more urgent and essential.
Up: we met with the UN staff who are dealing with the new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the Human Rights Council. Under the UPR, every country in the world will be reviewed every 4 years for an entire span of human rights violations – civil, political, economic, social and cultural. The U.S. is first up for review in 2010, so we have plenty of time to prepare. We were told that the U.S. is supposed to engage in a “broad consultative process” to prepare their official report to the UN. I might not speak for everyone here, but I plan to make that happen – I’m envisioning regional and local testimonial panels, collection of stories of abuses, collection of success stories where rights are being protected, and the involvement of all levels and branches of government. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I think this is a great opportunity. One limitation – the entire U.S. report has to be only 20 pages, and the NGO commentary on that report is only 10. If we had trouble getting all our issues into under 700 pages for this report…well, let’s just say it will call for some new forms of creative activism…
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