UN protocols and security measures are intense and the group has met here at the Hotel Eden Geneva and meandered in waves to Palais Nations on a trek to obtain UN credentials to allow access to both UN buildings, Palais Wilson and Palais Nations.
Thanks to the US Human Rights Network coordinators, the UN protocol orientation has provided much needed information on the delivery of testimonial messages that will have an impact on the CERD Committee members which will make them sit up and listen to our collective voices. The Dry Run of the Informal Briefing gave us crucial timing practice that will allow all of us who are providing testimonies to be able to do so in a concise and powerful manner that will be the bait to hook the Committee Members interest and elicit their much needed advocacy in our human rights campaign movement.
It has been noted that, historically, this kind of informal briefing has never happened on this large scale and we have an opportunity to productively and progressively move our efforts toward effecting some major social change in diverse communities across an ongoing continuum of unanswered US human rights violations of UN treaties ratified by the US.
Testimony after testimony has been given and everyone has been respectful of time constraints and I`m witnessing the sheer passion, respect, and dignity that everyone has brought to share at this advocacy table.
My testimony interested one Committee Member enough to speak to me for nearly 10 minutes on the cultural significance of the ”blessed by God”, as he mentioned to me, Native Hawaiian Mahuwahines and the Pakistani/Indian Hijiras. HOOKED—I felt empowered and honored that I was able to reach him through cross cultural means and that he actually took the time out of his busy schedule with as voluminous a workload as a UN Committee Member, such as he, has and is accountable to restrictive budgetary considerations and limited time constraints within which to frame his responses and recommendations.
Special Rapporteur, Dr. Doudou Diéne gave detailed requests for foundational information from the NGOs from whom he received testimony on the following issues: 1) Homelessness, 2) War on Drugs, 3) School to Prison Pipeline (Migrant Youth, Arab Americans/Migrants & Racial Discrimination, Racial Discrimination & Alternative Programs), 4) Immigrants and Migrants (Local Anti-Immigrant Ordinances, Immigrant Women), 5) Indigenous Peoples, 6) Gender and Sexuality Issues, 7) Special Measures, 8 ) Post 9/11 Issues. Snapshots of local communities were provided from Minnesota, Chicago, New York City, Texas, and California. Also, Hurricane Katrina victims were provided special testimonial time.