Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Civil Society

Civil And Constitutional Rights, Liberties, And Human Rights Latest Statements, Briefings, And Hearings

Here are summaries of and links to recent web sites and documents relevant to Civil and Constitutional Rights, Liberties, and Human Rights: 

50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches 
President Obama at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 2015  

The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing.  But they gave courage to millions.  They held no elected office.  But they led a nation.  They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities –- but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before. 

What they did here will reverberate through the ages.  Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.

Read more...  

Remarks by President Obama at the Civil Society Forum 
April 10, 2015 

It’s not to say that my country is perfect -- we are not.  And that’s the point.  We always have to have citizens who are willing to question and push our government, and identify injustice.  We have to wrestle with our own challenges -- from issues of race to policing to inequality.  But what makes me most proud about the extraordinary example of the United States is not that we’re perfect, but that we struggle with it, and we have this open space in which society can continually try to make us a more perfect union.
We’ve stood up, at great cost, for freedom and human dignity, not just in our own country, but elsewhere.  I’m proud of that.  And we embrace our ability to become better through our democracy.  And that requires more than just the work of government.  It demands the hard and frustrating, sometimes, but absolutely vital work of ordinary citizens coming together to make common cause.
Read more... 

The FY 2016 Budget Request: Assessing U.S. Foreign Assistance Effectiveness  
Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, March 17, 2015   

The Honorable Alfonso E. Lenhardt, Acting Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
The Honorable Dana J. Hyde, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Read more... 

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women-U.S. Department of State Entrepreneurship Program for Women in the Middle East
John Kerry, Secretary of State, March 9, 2015

Last year, Goldman Sachs and the World Bank created the first global fund of its type for women, opening doors of opportunity for women around the world.  And the State Department is very, very proud to join with the combination of Goldman and Harvard and the World Bank in order to promote women’s entrepreneurship and access to capital through the new program that we are announcing today.  I’m particularly proud that we are launching this important public-private partnership on the first day of Global Partnership Week.  And the principle really could not be more direct.  It’s very simple:  If women are able to thrive, societies thrive.  And nowhere is that more true than in the Middle East and in North Africa.  Everybody here knows we are facing a moment of some enormous challenges in all of these places.  But it’s also a part of the world that is richly blessed with unbelievable untapped opportunities.
Read more... 

28th Session of the Human Rights Council 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Geneva, March 2, 2015 

The fundamental struggle for dignity has been a driving force in all human history worldwide, and what drives us are a set of universal values and aspirations. We in America know well that even in our own journey, there is still more work to be done. We also know that it is because of the courage and commitment of citizens in each generation that the United States has come closer and still works to always live up to its founding ideals. Our journey has not been without great difficulty or, at times, contradiction. But I think we can fairly say that we have dared to discuss these challenges openly and hold ourselves accountable, including through our free press and unyielding commitment to protecting freedom of expression. And even as we acknowledge the challenges of our history and those that we continue to face today, I can say, I think safely, I don’t know any other country that has worked harder to promote human rights than the United States of America. And we are proud of that.
Read more...  

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Announce New Whole of Government Initiative, Let Girls Learn
White House fact sheet, March 3, 2015  

This new effort will build on the Let Girls Learn public engagement campaign launched last summer by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Let Girls Learn will elevate existing programs, including in areas of conflict and crisis, and leverage public and private sector partners. It will also look to build more partnerships and challenge other organizations and governments to commit resources to lift up adolescent girls across the globe.
Read more...  

Volunteering in the United States – 2014
Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 3, 2015

The volunteer rate was little changed at 25.3 percent for the year ending in September 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About 62.8 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2013 and September 2014. The volunteer rate in 2013 was 25.4 percent.
Read more...  

Resilience for Women Countering Violent Extremism
U.S. Institute of Peace. Georgia Holmer. March 6, 2015.

What makes a young man or woman vulnerable to joining a violent extremist group? In the same way that a malnourished, exhausted, neglected, or traumatized body is more susceptible to disease or infection, a person who lacks resources, opportunity, and support is more vulnerable to engaging in violent extremism.
Read more...    [HTML format, various paging].

 

International Women of Courage Ceremony
Catherine M. Russell,  Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, March 6, 2015

These ten women are an inspiration to me and to so many around the world, and, I know, all of you in this room. They are leaders and role models. So I want to leave you with one last story today. Last year, a young woman from India who was honored in this ceremony, named Laxmi, recited a poem. Laxmi was the victim of a brutal acid attack that left her face burned and scarred. She stood here and told the world that Thursdays would always remind her of her attacker. But despite her injuries, despite the pain suffered and the scars both visible and invisible, she would live her entire life as a testament. “You will know that I am alive,” she said, “free and thriving and living my dreams.”
Read more...

 

‘Mothers Schools’ to Working With Police: Women Prevent Violent Extremism. 
U.S. Institute of Peace. Viola Gienger. March 18, 2015.

The helplessness pours out of a crying mother in India, so silenced by patriarchal traditions that she’s afraid to speak up about the risk that her son might be drawn to radicalism. Continents away in Nigeria, police officers are ashamed to admit the poor working conditions that weaken their ability and motivation to protect their communities. The seemingly disparate scenes are elements of the same puzzle – how to combat violent extremism. And in both countries, local women activists are putting the pieces together.
Read more...    [HTML format, various paging].

 

2014 Annual Report of the Government of the United States of America for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative
U.S. Department of State, March 19, 2015

Each member of the VPs Initiative is required to report to VPs Initiative participants annually on their efforts to implement the VPs. The U.S. Government has prepared this public report in line with our commitment to make our participation in the VPs Initiative as transparent as possible.

The VPs Initiative is a multi-stakeholder initiative made up of governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promotes the implementation of a set of principles that guide oil, gas, and mining companies in providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights. Specifically, the VPs guide companies in conducting a comprehensive human rights risk assessment in their engagement with public and private security providers to ensure human rights are respected in the protection of company facilities and premises.
Read more... 

 

Status of Women in the States
Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), March 19, 2015

IWPR’s Status of Women reports are a unique source of comprehensive information on women. Since 1996, IWPR has analyzed data on a wide range of indicators at the local, state, national, and international levels, including demographics, economic security, education, reproductive rights, political participation, civic engagement, and access to health care and work supports. IWPR has released reports on each U.S. state and the District of Columbia, several city/area reports, and a series of reports and a toolkit on women in the Middle East and North Africa. Each report offers policy recommendations shaped by the research findings for that state or city/area. Recent state-level reports include The Status of Women & Girls in Colorado, The Status of Women in North Carolina, The Status of Women & Girls in West Virginia, The Status of Women in Connecticut’s Workforce, and “The Well-Being of Women in Utah.” State and federal policymakers, journalists, advocates, and community leaders have used the reports for nearly two decades to make the case for improved public policies for women and families.
Read more... 

 

Measuring Research and Development Expenditures in the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Conceptual and Design Issues: Summary of a Workshop (2015)
National Research Council, March 2015

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) of the National Science Foundation is responsible for national reporting of the research and development (R&D) activities that occur in all sectors of the United States economy. For most sectors, including the business and higher education sectors, NCSES collects data on these activities on a regular basis. However, data on R&D within the nonprofit sector have not been collected in 18 years, a time period which has seen dynamic and rapid growth of the sector. NCSES decided to design and implement a new survey of nonprofits, and commissioned this workshop to provide a forum to discuss conceptual and design issues and methods.

Measuring Research and Development Expenditures in the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Conceptual and Design Issues summarizes the presentations and discussion of the workshop. This report identifies concepts and issues for the design of a survey of R&D expenditures made by nonprofit organizations, considering the goals, content, statistical methodology, data quality, and data products associated with this data collection. The report also considers the broader usefulness of the data for understanding the nature of the nonprofit sector and their R&D activities.
Read more...

 

Commemorative Meeting on the Occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Michele J. Sison, U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations, March 25, 2015 

There is no greater blemish in the history of the United States of America than that of slavery – of the crime defined by freedom denied. Around the year 1627, not far from these UN headquarters, the first enslaved Africans arrived in present-day New York City. In fact, one of the walls of New Amsterdam’s fort, built by enslaved African people, is bordered by today’s Wall Street. The stories of transatlantic slavery and its abolition, along with the stories of heroes, such as Harriet Tubman, who helped free slaves through the Underground Railroad, are woven into the very fabric of our nation.
Read more...    

 

Children and Armed Conflict 
Ambassador David Pressman at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, March 25, 2015 

First, we can insist on strong human rights reporting in peacekeeping missions, which includes accurate and timely information on violations and abuses committed against children. And then we can act on that information, with all the tools we have at our disposal to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Second, we can ensure that child protection issues are on the table during the difficult work of negotiating peace agreements. There has never been a conflict that does not involve children, and the peace that we seek should be for their benefit. Child protection is an issue around which all sides should be able to agree, even if they cannot agree on much else, and is a choice warring parties can affirmatively make when making peace.
Third, we must be ready to receive children coming out of conflict with more robust disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration – DDR – programs.
Read more... 

 

Key U.S. Outcomes at the UN Human Rights Council 28th Session 
Fact sheet, U.S. Department of State, March 27, 2015 

Item 7/Israel:  The United States opposed four biased annual resolutions that targeted Israel, all of which were adopted under the HRC’s agenda Item 7, dedicated solely to Israel.  We oppose all actions under this agenda item, the only one dedicated to a single country.
Read more...

 

Preventing Mass Atrocities: Progress in Addressing an Enduring Challenge 
U.S. Under Secretary of State Sarah Sewall, at the Council on Foreign Relations, March 30, 2015 

Three years ago, the President identified the prevention of mass atrocities as a core national security interest and core moral responsibility, and he committed the United States to becoming a global leader in preventing large-scale violence against civilians worldwide. He made clear that the U.S. cannot and should not intervene militarily every time there is an injustice or an imminent atrocities threat. Instead he called for the U.S. government to use its full arsenal of tools, including diplomatic, political, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement capabilities to prevent these crimes. The U.S. government is working to put this prevention approach into practice.
Read more... 

 

Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria 
Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, March 31, 2015

Countries must close the widening gap between what we are providing and what the Syrian people desperately need. That is why President Obama sent me here today to announce that the United States is pledging $507 million, in addition to the nearly $3.2 billion we have provided since the conflict began. We are directing this aid to help meet Syrians’ immediate needs, such as treating more than 2 million patients in U.S.-supported hospitals and clinics, and feeding nearly 7 million people. And today’s pledge comes on top of the substantial bilateral assistance we are giving to Syria’s generous neighbors, who are hosting millions of refugees who are placing a huge strain on overstretched health and education systems.
Read more...

See also

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance in Response to the Syrian Crisis
Fact sheet, U.S. Department of State, March 31, 2015   
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/03/239971.htm 

 

U.S. Global Leadership in Landmine Clearance and Conventional Weapons Destruction 
Fact sheet, U.S. Department of State, April 3, 2015 

Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $2.4 billion for the safe disposal of small arms, light weapons, and munitions, as well as for removal of landmines and explosive remnants of war in more than 90 countries through more than 60 partner organizations, making it the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction.
Read more... 

 

Women, Peace and Security: Conflict-Related Sexual Violence 
Michele J. Sison, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security: Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, April 15, 2015

At the June 2014 Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, representatives from over 120 different countries committed to strengthening accountability. They agreed that the way forward must include capacity building and focus on the rule of law in order to create a sustainable and secure system of justice. The United States unveiled our new Accountability Initiative at the June Summit, which supports specialized justice sector mechanisms and reflects our commitment to move sexual violence out of the shadows and into the sphere of justice.
Read more... 

 

Girls’ Rights: Can the movement achieve lasting change?  
Amy Yee. CQ Researcher, April 17, 2015 

A movement to protect and expand girls' rights around the world is gaining support from governments, international donors and advocacy groups. Improving girls' lives is not only a moral issue — research shows it also speeds economic development. Activists are pushing to end child marriage, educate all girls, improve their reproductive health and reduce violence and discrimination against them. Although girls' mortality and school enrollment rates have been improving, obstacles remain. Nearly 120 million girls do not attend primary school, and 15 million girls under 18 marry each year, often under duress, ending their schooling and putting them at risk for domestic violence and health complications. In some countries girls' progress is threatened by religious extremists, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Activists say that to have lasting effects, girls' rights campaigns must establish effective on-the-ground programs that change societal attitudes as well as local policies.
Read more...  (Full text available on request)

 

Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its Eighth Session
Ambassador David B. Dunn, U.S. Senior Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs, April 16, 2015

Mr. President, 2015 is a significant year for UN peacebuilding, as the international community’s understanding increases as regards the need to pay close attention to the key components of lasting peace after conflict – national ownership, social and political inclusivity, institution building, and predictable financing.

Stakeholders should make the most of the five-year review of UN Peacebuilding Architecture already underway. My Delegation commends the experts who prepared the review’s methodology, including country-specific studies, anchored in addressing the challenges facing post-conflict countries in order to diminish the possibility of relapse. Once the panel of experts has formally provided its report, my Delegation will participate robustly in considering its recommendations, a process to be undertaken jointly by the General Assembly and the Security Council later this year.
Read more... 

 

UN Security Council Debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: the Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace
Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, April 23, 2015

Research shows that young people are more likely to listen to, and be influenced by, their peers. Yet too often, we approach youth as the passive recipients of campaigns to counter violent extremism, rather than active participants in shaping their strategy and spearheading their implementation. We’ve seen how powerful youth-led initiatives can be, including those that use satire. That was the approach Karim Farok adopted. An amateur Egyptian musician, Karim took an ISIL chant and remixed it into a pop song, posting his version on social media sites. While his action may at first glance look like a way of amplifying ISIL’s message, in reality Karim’s remix was a form of protest, because ISIL’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islam forbids music with instruments. By transgressing the group’s rules, Karim’s song encouraged others to express criticism as well, rather than be silenced by fear. Not only did his remix go viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views, but it also spawned countless other musical and dancing spoofs of ISIL chants – a potent form of counter-extremist messaging that kids can relate to.
Read more... 

 

 

 

Updated: April 26, 2015

Adobe Reader

  • Download Free
    Download Free

    All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format.  To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.  You may download a free version by clicking the link above.