Center for Constitutional Rights Says President and Congress Must Address Structural Harm
December 10, 2020, New York– Today, on International Human Rights Day, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued a rights-based vision for the first 100 days, identifying necessary steps President-elect Joe Biden and the 117th Congress must take immediately to begin shifting power back to the people. The demands are rooted in human rights and international law, and aim to challenge systemic discrimination and the unjust distribution of power and resources. The group emphasizes that the Biden administration and Congress must do more than restore a pre-Trump state of affairs, and demands fundamental “transformation of oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, and economic inequity” as well as accountability “for all forms of state-sanctioned violence and abandonment,” and governmental overreach.
“The 100-Days demands emerge from our relationships with clients as well as front-line human rights defenders, who are the experts of their lived experiences and who set the vision of a world with human rights fulfilled,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Advocacy Director Nadia Ben-Youssef. “While policy vehicles are narrow tools for social change, the demands point towards a future where our people have what they need to thrive. As has been true throughout the Center for Constitutional Rights’ history, our legal and advocacy work is guided not by what is practical, but by what is necessary, just, life-giving and liberatory.”
The policy document states: “We call on President Biden and the 117th Congress to address racial disparities of COVID-19; recalibrate national priorities; and commit to structural social change that remedies historical injustices, upends systemic racism, and guarantees human rights for all by taking the following, immediate steps in the first 100 days.” It then outlines principles and specific steps that must be taken towards those goals within the first 100 days. The emphasis is on responding to the needs of communities, tackling entrenched injustices, and crafting a politically coherent foreign policy that protects and promotes human rights.
The key demands include instituting an affirmative and equitable COVID-19 response, such as by providing universal healthcare coverage, debt cancellation, decarceration, and a moratorium on evictions; providing repair and remedy for historical injustice, through, for example, creating commissions to assess and propose reparations for Black and Indigenous people; investing in safe communities and divesting from criminalization by reallocating funds away from police, the military, and mass incarceration and into community needs such as housing, education, and food security; ensuring a rights-based foreign policy through steps such as repealing overly-broad post-9/11 congressional authorizations for the use of military force and ending indefinite detention at Guantánamo; and committing to international human rights norms and global solidarity, by taking such steps as ratifying and implementing core international human rights treaties and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
In the first 100 days, the Center for Constitutional Rights will join with movement partners and others putting forward bold, affirmative policy demands, in holding the Biden administration and the 117th Congress accountable to the needs of people in this transforming moment. The advocacy and legal teams will be engaging with members of Congress, federal agencies, and executive actors to move forward both immediate priorities as well as a broader people-centered, rights-based policy agenda.
You can read the Rights-Based Vision for the First 100 Days here.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.