The United Nations will review the U.S.’ human rights record at the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2020. The UPR takes place for each country only every four years, so this marks a unique and important opportunity for the National Lawyers Guild to raise its voice at an international level regarding U.S. human rights violations.
Please help the NLG support Kerry McLean and Martha Schmidt to attend the UPR. The NLG has submitted two reports to the UPR process as part of a collective effort organized by the US Human Rights Network, on the right to health care and violations of voting rights.
MARTHA SCHMIDT, a former labor and community organizer and college teacher who recently retired from active law practice, will be representing the organizations that submitted a report, “The Right to Health: How financing affects the right to health care in the U.S.” (The NLG submitted this report along with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the People’s Action Institute and the Rights and Democracy Institute.) Martha has worked for the right to health care for more than a decade with a number of organizations in Washington State and has served chiefly as an educator on human rights law. She is a founder of Healthcare is a Human Right-WA.
KERRY MCLEAN is an international human rights lawyer and international development consultant. Kerry is the chair of the NLG’s Africa Committee and the founder of the Center for Pan-African Affairs. Over the past 15 years she has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia, working with local and international organizations on human rights and international development. She has engaged in significant UN advocacy, including litigation with the treaty monitoring bodies, writing shadow reports concerning compliance with CERD, CEDAW and CAT, contributing to UPR reporting and working with Special Rapporteurs. She has provided trainings on and delivered lectures on international human rights in the US and other parts of the world.
While working for the Center for Reproductive Rights Kerry did work on maternal mortality that was focused on countries in Latin America and Africa, as well as India. She has now expanded her focus to include the crisis of Black maternal mortality in wealthy countries such as the US. To illustrate, Black women in the US die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes at 4 times the rate of white women, regardless of income or educational background.
The National Lawyers Guild is an organization of lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers. It was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association which did not admit people of color. The NLG works “in service to the people to the end that human rights and the rights of ecosystems are more important than property interests” (Preamble, Constitution).
The NLG was a consulting organization at the founding of the UN in San Francisco and one of the 42 organizations that ensured that the UN Charter includes human rights and equal rights of men and women in the preamble and Article 68, which provides the basis for ECOSOC’s establishment of human rights bodies. Our Human Rights Framework Project, which especially advocates for social and economic rights and U.S. accountability and participates in shadow reporting, is a project of the International Committee.
Please support this important effort to send these tireless human rights advocates to raise these serious issues at the UN’s UPR process in Geneva.