White saviors and the Civil and Human Rights Coalition response to UN Human Rights recommendations for the U.S.

June 16: Student Volunteer Opportunity- Customs & Border Protection NGO Work Group Meeting: NOTE TAKERS NEEDED

On June 16th, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security will be holding a major meeting of the CBP-NGO Work Group in Seattle, WA.  The CBP-NGO Work Group is a network of national and community based civil rights and civil liberties organizations actively working with CBP to strengthen accountability and transparency within this federal agency.  Topics likely to be covered include, but are not limited to, the use of profiling of racial and religious minorities, the feasibility of body worn cameras as a transparency and accountability tool, agency responsiveness to civil rights complaints and requests for information through the federal Freedom of Information Act, and treatment of migrants (including unaccompanied migrant children) at the border and in CBP custody.  This is the first meeting of this Work Group in a northern border state.  Organizations participating in the event include the ACLU, the Latin American Working Group, the Northern Borders Coalition, the Southern Borders Community Coalition, the National Network of Arab American Communities, and other national and local organizations.  Individuals interested in volunteering as note takers should contact Hajer Al-Faham of OneAmerica (hajer@weareoneamerica.org).  Deliberations are intended to be off-the-record and closed to the media.

Annual NGO Ranking Shows “White Savior” Status Quo Remains Intact by Fairouz El Tom 

Teju Cole wrote that a white savior is someone who “supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.”

Global_Geneva recently released its third annual top NGO ranking, and unfortunately, it’s more of the same. In 2013, I reviewed the board profiles of the previous, focusing on their gender balance and diversity, and links to the tobacco, weapons, and finance industries. The findings were troubling. Many of the listed NGOs were not adequately diverse or representative, and over half had links to the above industries.

This year’s ranking reveals similarly disturbing trends. Though 78 percent of the activities of the NGOs listed take place in the majority world, the ranking remains skewed towards NGOs headquartered in the West (64 percent). This once again sends signals about who has value and expertise, and reinforces the fallacy that citizens of Western countries are best equipped to change the world.

Continue reading here.

Civil and Human Rights Coalition Responds to United Nations Human Rights Recommendations for the U.S.

WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in response to the release of recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council following its Universal Periodic Review of the U.S. human rights record on May 11 in Geneva. The United States has until September 2015 to indicate whether it will accept or reject each of the Council’s 348 recommendations:

“The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review is an important process for holding nations accountable for their human rights records, and we’re pleased that in its review of the United States, many members of the Council have included recommendations raised by The Leadership Conference.

Among those recommendations are a call for the U.S. to reform its criminal justice system, including ending racial profiling, addressing the excessive use of force by police, and adopting a moratorium on the federal death penalty with a view toward its abolition. The Council also recognized that the United States still lacks a national human rights institution and is recommending the creation of a more robust domestic mechanism charged with implementing human rights obligations and treaty recommendations in the United States. We have urged the White House to take concrete steps to develop a systematic and effective interagency mechanism to advance implementation.

In addition, many members of the Council called on the United States to ratify international human rights treaties from which the United States is still not a party, particularly CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) and CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).  We urge the Obama administration to continue to pressure the Senate to ratify these fundamental human rights treaties.

We look forward to working with the administration and the Senate to achieve these goals.”

Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

Judge may send letter encouraging lawyers to do pro bono work, ABA ethics opinion says BY DAVID L. HUDSON JR.

An ABA ethics opinion issued today concludes that a state supreme court justice may sign a letter on the justice’s stationery that is then mailed by the state’s unified bar association to all lawyers licensed in the state encouraging them to meet their obligations to perform pro bono work. Rule 6.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct encourages—but does not require—lawyers to perform 50 hours of pro bono work per year.

Formal Opinion 470 (PDF), issued by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, concludes that a judge may send a general letter encouraging lawyers to engage in pro bono or other public service work without violating Rule 3.7 of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Rule 3.7(B) states: “A judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono publico legal services.” Comment 5 to Rule 3.7 explains that “a judge may promote broader access to justice by encouraging lawyers to participate in pro bono public legal services, if in doing so the judge does not employ coercion, or abuse the prestige of judicial office.”

In its opinion, the Ethics Committee states that, “Although signing a letter encouraging lawyers to perform pro bono services is not one of the specific activities listed as permissible in comment 5, the committee thinks the rules do not prohibit a judge from sending the encouraging letter described in this opinion.” The committee notes that its conclusion is in accord with at least two other opinions issued at the state level.

The opinion also states that a judge’s efforts to encourage pro bono activities by lawyers must be in accord with Rule 3.1 of the Judicial Conduct Code. While Rule 3.1 permits judges to engage in extrajudicial activities, those activities may not interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s judicial duties; lead to frequent disqualification of the judge; appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity or impartiality; or appear to a reasonable person to be coercive.

Formal Opinion 470 urges judges to consider several factors before sending a letter encouraging lawyers to engage in pro bono work, including the number of lawyers who will receive the letter; the number of judges serving the jurisdiction; whether the letter is a personalized correspondence or a general plea to the bar as a whole; whether there will be some form of post-letter monitoring; and the tone of the letter.

States with unified bars require all lawyers licensed in the jurisdiction to be members of the association. Unified bars exist in 30 states plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.