An international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations
Delivered to TOWN HALL SESSION, State Department, Washington, DC:  2:00 - 2:55PM  JULY 20,2015

Dear Members State Department US UPR Team and distinguished participants. On behalf of the
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), an UN/NGO in Consultative Status
with ECOSOC, we welcome, with gratitude, the opportunity to share a few thoughts at today's Town Hall
Meeting. We sincerely trust, given the perhaps unavoidable time-constraints imposed by these
proceedings, that this and the subsequent breakout sessions do not become merely perfunctory gestures
that inadvertently compromise the seriousness of the times nor the depth of the issues needing to be
appropriately addressed.

IHRAAM did file an Alternative Report (AR) with the UNHRC in response to the US UPR of May, 2015.
Representatives of our organization were in attendance at the proceedings of the 22nd Session of the
UNHRC, held an earlier side-session addressing the unique socio-educational concerns of US citizens of
African Descent, particularly of those associated with our Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU);
and also observed with great interest, the series of well over 300 State-based recommendations made in
response to the US UPR. Similarly, it is duly noted that this Town Hall Session is designed to consider - in
lieu to topic # 3 - the issues of  "Process and Recommendations Related to Treaties, International
Mechanisms and Domestic Implementation".

Therefore, it is within this context that we respectfully share a few observations and provide the following
recommendations or interventions to The State Department US UPR Team:

1. They should take full note of the overwhelming number  of recommendations made that the US should
do the following - (a) ratify all international HR treaties to which it is not a party, (b) consider establishing a
National Human Rights Institution (HRI), (c) adopt and implement a Plan of Action consistent with the
Durban Declaration and Program of Action, (d) Strengthen and implement existing laws and legislation to
eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination, and (e) actively promote the right to education for
vulnerable minority and ethnic groups and fully consult with them to correct historical and present

2. They should consider the timely creation of the ways and means by which processes of continued
consultation with the expertise represented by members of Civil Society represented here today, can be
maintained and even institutionalized going forward. In the international arena, such processes of formal
and open engagement with civil society would go a long way to help establish a perception of greater
credibility as concerns domestic implementation of US treaty obligations.   

3.  They should take full note of the AR and especially the formal "Statement" recently submitted by
IHRAAM which calls for the creation and government recognition of an OFFICE OF HBCU DEVELOPMENT &
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION. A core planning group has already been established in this regard and will
begin its work this academic year. This represents a new and fully democratized paradigm for attempting to
address the collective socio-educational and economic plight of HBCUs and the increasingly marginalized
African-American heartland communities of which they are an integral part. As noted in our "Statement",
such activity is deemed to be fully consistent with present US Treaty obligations under CERD, ICCPR, and
many other instruments ---- including US Support for UN General Assembly Resolutions 60/147 and 68/237
the later being the "Proclamation of the International Decade for People of African Descent" which began
January 1st of this year,  ....

Again, we are grateful for the opportunity to attend this historic gathering and for allowing us to share
these few words. Copies of IHRAAM's full "Statement" are available to those with interest at the end of the

Thank You !

Dr. Farid I. Muhammad
IHRAAM - USA            
DOWNLOAD Word version

IHRAAM Alternative Report to the United Nations Human
Rights Council prepared for its Universal Periodic
Review of Human Rights in the US the United States
May 11, 2015
ABOVE: Flyer for side session held in Room XXIII
UN Palais des Nations May 7th, 2015


•        Restore the Parents PLUS program
lending criteria

•        Legally entrench federal support to
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs) and index to cost of living

•        Create a new fund which will at least
match the dollars raised by minorities
specifically giving to HBCUs

•        Apply the current IRS tax structure
that is applied to other nonprofit groups to

•        Restore/expand federal funding for No
Child Left Behind, Pell Grants, Head Start,
TRIO, Title III and cognate programs

Institutional change:

•        Create a new accreditation
organization approved by the DOE,
empowered to review accreditation denials
of HBCUs and defer them pending further
investigation into possible resolution.

•        Re-establish the White House
Initiative for HBCUs requiring African  
American selection of Chair and Members,
and accord this body the right to advance
policy consultation and approval as it
concerns policies impacting HBCUs.

•        Establish by democratic process a
White House Initiative for African American
Public Education

Judicial review

•        Enforce existing state-based legal
requirements for parity support to  
    State Department/DoE Civil Society Consultation,
    Washington, DC July 20, 2014

    IHRAAM was invited to participate in the State Department/Dept. of Education Town Hall review of
    education recommendations resulting from the US-UPR. Dr. Farid I. Muhammad and Professor Emerita Vernellia
    Randall travelled to Washington to attend the July 20, 2015 meeting and present.

    The State Department requested two documents:  A Written Statement, and then a more brief Intervention for
    delivery at the event itself.  These documents are below.
download pdf of Written Statement:


JULY 20, 2015, 2:00 - 5:00 PM   
2201  C STREET, NW

An International NGO in Consultative Status with the United Nations


The State Department US UPR Team has extended an invitation to IHRAAM, a UN/NGO in Consultative Status with
ECOSOC, to attend civil society town hall and consultation meetings with members of an US Interagency Working Group.  
IHRAAM submitted an earlier Alternative Report (AR) to the UNHRC in response to the US UPR presented May, 2015. The
meetings will focus on the recommendations received by the US during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This
requested  statement/topics areas report seeks  to align recommendations formally received by the US from the UN
Working Group on the US UPR with those put forward by the IHRAAM Alternative Report  (AR),  as well as provide a
mechanism for ongoing review and consultation.  Therefore, IHRAAM’s culminating recommendation calls for the
institutionalization of an “Office for HBCU Development & International Cooperation” tasked with addressing HBCU
empowerment and sustainability.    


1.     The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), an UN/NGO in Consultative Status with
ECOSOC, acknowledges, with gratitude, the invitation received from The State Department U.S. UPR Team on Monday
June 22, 2015 per its participation in the civil society consultation and town hall meetings scheduled for 2:00-5:00 pm
(EST) on Monday July 20, 2015. A required RSVP confirmation was forwarded via email ( on
Wednesday June 24, 2015. IHRAAM indicated that the following individuals would be available for active participation in
these proceedings:  Dr. Farid I. Muhammad (Team Leader), Professor Emerita  Vernellia H. Randall, and Dr. John K.
Dr. Muhammad and Professor Randall reported their intention to attend in person, while Dr. Waddell (past president of
four HBCUs and formerly a member of the White House Initiative) will be available by dial-in phone option.   

2.     In its capacity as an UN/NGO in Consultative Status with ECOSOC, IHRAAM formally submitted an Alternative Report
(AR) to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on September 14, 2014 (copy attached) themed “International
Law & Empowerment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)”. The AR was cosponsored by other US and
internationally based organizations that remain justifiably concerned by the ever increasing and systemic socio-economic
marginalization of African Americans. The filing of this AR was done in anticipation of and in response to the United States-
UPR hearing held at UNHRC Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland May 11, 2015. Dr. Muhammad, Professor Randall and
Dr Edwina Harris Hamby –(VP for Development & Research, Fisk University, TN) presented at an IHRAAM-sponsored side-
session on HBCUs and international law at the UN’s Palais des Nations on May 7th, were observers of the full US/UPR
proceedings held there on  May 11, 2015 and participated in post US/UPR discussions and cognate activities. A press
release capturing these Geneva-based activities is attached. These experiences help inform and contextualize the
recommendations/statements/proposed topics to be noted in this report.      

3.     In compliance with The State Department U.S. UPR Team’s additional request for an e-mail submission of written and
advance statements/topic areas of concern, IHRAAM hereby respectfully submits this document for the US/UPR Team’s
due consideration, in anticipation of the Interagency Working Group’s discussion scheduled for July 20, 2015.

4.   IHRAAM remains ready to cooperate in all manners possible.

Principles Underpinning  IHRAAM Proposal to State Department US UPR Team:

5.   IHRAAM fully affirms and recognizes the irrefutable rights and reciprocal duties/obligations of the United States of
America as a sovereign and totally autonomous State, which honors its membership in the broader United Nations
community.  Respect for US sovereignty and full recognition of its laudable values of “indivisibility”, “freedom”, “equality”
and social “justice” for all, remain sacrosanct standards and ideals held dear by all its citizens. Even when historical and
current socio-economic indicators notably demonstrate the continued existence of gross/aggregate and systemic
disparities as a function of its citizens’ ethnicity/race/social-class and gender, these inherent common social values and
national aspirations still remain. However, as with many other states, the United States’ efforts to truly live up to its own
declared ideals for social justice and equal opportunity for all, remain anemic and thwarted. An assessment of these
historical and systemic issues, particularly as they impact HBCUs and cognate institutions of education serving
predominantly US citizens of African Descent, are comprehensively addressed in IHRAAM’s Alternative Report to the US-
UPR, 2015.           

6.    IHRAAM also fully affirms and recognizes the irrefutable rights and reciprocal duties/obligations that all humankind and
nations should ideally have toward each other. This common responsibility and fundamental moral imperative is socio-
legally captured in the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and subsequent state-based and autonomous compliance with
internationally recognized and independently ratified human rights covenants, cognate protocols, and customary practices
established via international law. Each member state of the UN, therefore, should strive to promote and ensure the
harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with the international human rights instruments to which it is
a party; and, thereby, effect implementation of such agreed upon policies.  Therefore, it is respectfully recommended that
within light of the above, the State Department U.S. UPR Team take full advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Civil
Society Consultation and Town Hall Sessions being conducted July 20, 2015 -to establish ongoing modes of collaboration
with such participating entities to further facilitate the required harmonization among local, state, national and international
human rights regulations and practices. IHRAAM consultants,  experts and affiliated HBCU experts stand ready to assist
the U.S. Department of State in such endeavors, particularly as relates to the concerns of US national/ethnic minorities
and/or people of African Descent.

7. It is well noted that the US is already a party to several international human rights instruments and declarations which
have particular socio-legal relevance to national/ethnic minorities or people of African Descent. The US has also acceded
to and recognized ancillary international human rights declarations and specialized reports resulting from duly authorized
UN Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs.  In short, the USA is a formal party to several significant internationally
binding human rights treaties, while remaining a signatory to many others. The US Department of State has additionally
acceded to allowing two major UN studies/reports to be conducted which assessed contemporary forms of racism/racial
discrimination/intolerance and the plight of its citizens who are of African Descent. Among the most significant of these
human rights instruments and UN reports, which are deemed to have consequential impact for national minorities or US
citizens of African Descent, would be the following:

    a.  Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
    b.  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  (ICCPR ratified 1992)
    c.  International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism  (CERD ratified 1994)
    d.  Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities  
    (Adopted by General Assembly resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992)
    e.  UN Commission on Human Rights Report: Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms
        of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance - pursuant to
        Resolution 1999/78 - Publication Date 10 February, 2000
    f.   UN Report on the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent: Visit to the United States of America
    (25 to 29 January, 2010) - UNHRC 50th Session, Agenda Item #9  
    g.   UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147: Basic Principles & Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and
    Reparations for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International
    Humanitarian Law (16 December, 2005)
    h.   US Support (December, 2013) - UN General Assembly Resolution 68/237: Proclamation of the International
    Decade for People of African Descent (beginning 1 January, 2015)      

8. The following five (5) Categories (or Clusters) of State-Based Recommendations to the US UPR 2015, are deemed to
be consistent with and supportive of IHRAAM’s proposal below:
(From Part II: Conclusions and/or Recommendations, pgs 12-32, Item # 176 UNHRC Draft Report of US UPR 2015)   

a. Category I -    US should ratify all international human rights instruments to which it is not a                                   
                     party  (with particular emphasis given to ICESCR, CEDAW, CRC and CRPD)  
                     (sub-items #’s 176: recommendations 1-59 inclusive, and 70-72)

b. Category II -   US should establish a national human rights institution (HRI)
                      (sub-items #’s 176: recommendations 75-90 inclusive)

c. Category III -    US should adopt and implement a plan of action consistent with Durban
                       Declaration and Program of Action   
                       (sub-items #’s 176: recommendations 91-95 inclusive)

d. Category IV -    US should take further measures, strengthen existing laws and legislation to
                        eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination;  bring in line the definition
                        of racial discrimination in federal and state legislation with provisions of
                        ICERD; address root causes of recent racial incidents and expand capacity               
                        to reduce poverty in areas with sub/par services                     
                        (sub-items #’s 176: recommendations 118-125, 135, 137, 147, 153, 155, 160, & 161)

e. Category V -     US should promote the right to education for vulnerable groups and provide
                       equal access ; include the right to education in the Constitution;  guarantee
                       the enjoyment of human rights of the minorities; consult with ethnic
                       minorities, correct historical injustice and offer compensation
                       (sub-items #’s 176: recommendations 319-321, & 326)  

9.  As the IHRAAM AR states, Article 13:1 and 13:2:c of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (IESCR), and Article 5 (d)(v) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism (CERD) underscore the
right of all to education. CERD Article 4.1 implicitly calls upon states to enact Special Measures (Affirmative Action) in order
to address these violations and explicitly specifies that until such time as equal standing of racial/ethnic groups has been
achieved, “such measures are not to be regarded as a form of reverse discrimination”. Furthermore, the customary law of
states and the general comment and writing of experts on Article 27 of the ICCPR all attest to the fact that the right to
cultural identity requires special rights for its enforcement, rights for which the group concerned is to be the specific
beneficiary, rights which are not temporary, but ongoing. The rights of such groups have been summarized as the “special
right to institutions”, which enable these groups to have policy and rule-making powers to address their own unique needs
for cultural protection and socio-economic development, with the latter seen as needed to ensure to former.


10.   While the IHRAAM AR provided a series of specific recommendations to address the situation of African American K-
12 education and the crisis facing HBCUs, we propose here one primary recommendation which affords the possibility of
further addressing each of the specific recommendations within its mandate. I
HRAAM calls for the establishment of an

11.  IHRAAM further strongly recommends that The State Department US UPR Team recommend to the Department of
Education, and all cognate US government agencies,  that they  facilitate, endorse and recognize the creation of an
a quasi-state agency within the
Department of Education.

12.  The composition, mission and purpose of the OHBCUD would be as follows:

An independent body comprised of a representative (HBCU Administrators/Development Officers) from each HBCU, as well
as from other stakeholders, such as Alumni Associations and recognized HBCU advocacy groups, which would hold an
initial general consultation to elect its executive officers, establish its internal structure, and set up working groups on
policy/ research, and rules of procedure, operation and related matters.

The OHBCUD would primarily focus on helping to collaboratively propose and develop policy initiatives to secure the
ongoing academic, institutional and socio-economic stability and empowerment of HBCUs; as well as provide feedback and
advice to appropriate US agency initiatives which might help to avoid the enactment of general policies which have
disproportionately deleterious effects on African-Descent communities. The OHBCUD would establish varied modes of
international cooperation to secure and maintain ongoing educational and socio-economic cooperation with comparable
entities in countries throughout the worldwide African Diaspora.

To this end, this Body would work in full and ongoing cooperation with the Department of Education, the U.S. Department
of State, and cognate U.S. Interagency groups to help ensure collaborative harmonization and compliance with all
domestic and international laws and policies impacting the socio-educational development, well-being and human rights of
principally U.S. citizens of African Descent, and indirectly others throughout the African Diaspora.   

13. The OHBCUD would further address, as it saw fit and inter alia, the specific recommendations of the IHRAAM AR, to wit:

RE Funding:
• Restore the Parents PLUS program lending criteria ;
• Legally entrench federal support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and index to cost of living ;
• Create a new fund which will at least match the dollars raised by minorities specifically giving to HBCUs ;
• Apply the current IRS tax structure that is applied to other nonprofit groups to HBCUs ;
• Restore/expand federal funding for No Child Left Behind, Pell Grants, Head Start, TRIO, Title III and cognate programs.

RE Institutional change:
• Create a new accreditation organization approved by the DOE, empowered to review accreditation denials of HBCUs and
defer them pending further investigation into possible resolution;
• Support all  White House Initiatives which are concerned with  addressing the unique needs and institutional challenges
of elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools  that are dedicated to serving students who are predominantly
African American ;

RE Judicial review
• Enforce existing state-based legal requirements for parity support to HBCUs/HWIs.

Supporting Considerations for the OHBCUD:

HBCUs are key to the socio-economic development of African American heartland communities, and to keeping these from
sinking into barren wastelands of marginalized people. HBCUs represent an existing tool for enabling government to
positively address the ongoing and dangerous malaise in African American communities. Remarkably, this small group of
colleges confers 40% of STEM and 60% of engineering degrees earned by African American students. They also educate
half of the country’s African American teachers and 40% of all African American health professionals. They are a major
force in producing an African American professional sector.   

    a.        The OHBCUD would serve as a governmental recognition and endorsement of HBCUs as an historic African
    American legacy entitlement and international minority right.

    HBCUs represent the historic United States institutionalization of higher education for the African American people,
    upheld in 1896 (Plessey v. Ferguson) prior to the ending of the American apartheid policies related to education
    with Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. Under this regimen, these founding peoples of the United States, those
    of European descent and those of African descent, were regarded as “separate but equal” peoples.  As a result of
    the federally recognized and supported Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the systemic relation of the
    descendants of the formerly enslaved Africans—who, for example, became Gullah/Geechees, a new ethnicity
    endemic to North America, and from whom evolved an equally new ethnicity endemic to the United States, African
    Americans—was changed from “separate but equal” to the civil rights paradigm of “same rights for all”. While the
    USA did remove de jure segregation, it replaced it with equality before the law. It did not ask those whom they
    recognized as the African American people whether and on what terms they wished to be integrated into the United
    States. It did not provide them with the option of being integrated as a founding people of the United States with
    special right to institutions enabling their cultural and developmental protection, nor did it give provide them with
    constitutional-legal recognition, as is customary state practice.  Both the federal government and the civil rights
    movement nonetheless continued to recognize HBCUs as a legitimate institutional entitlement that was
    overwhelmingly desired by and of value to the peoples of African Descent (Gullah/Geechees and African
    Americans). HBCUs play a key role in helping both to assess and to ameliorate the many conditions that currently
    plague the African American community.

    b.        An OHBCUD would serve as a consultative body on HBCUs bearing exceptional legitimacy due its democratic
    process of empowerment.

    As advocated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Minorities and in the HRC’s US UPR Recommendations above
    cited, the DoE and cognate government agencies might turn to the OHBCUD for consultation in relation to proposed
    policy changes which might positively or negatively impact HBCUs, thus preventing catastrophic changes such as
    the Parents Plus Loan program.  It would also shed light on how existing policies might be improved or streamlined,
    to the advantage of all HBCUs.  

    c.        An OHBCUD would serve as a resource to increase individual HBCUs’ empowerment and sustainability, and
    thereby that of their communities, serving as a powerful symbol of government’s determination to stand by these

    Due to its centralized capacity to concentrate, develop and share tools and programs for advancement with its
    represented institutions, the OHBCUD can operate and offer services on a level not presently achievable due to lack
    of funding and expertise at individual HBCUs.

    d.        An OHBCUD would also thereby serve as a resource to aid economically marginalized and desperate
    heartland communities, serving as a powerful symbol of government’s determination to stand by these communities
    which have so suffered by government neglect.

    i.  HBCUs have traditionally functioned as a resource for local community development, both in terms of
    expertise and as a channel for conveying assistance of various forms. The presence alone of HBCUs in
    African American heartland communities contributes to the sustainability of those communities via the
    attendant student populations that they attract and whose needs they service .
    ii. A strong HBCU system has the capacity to help eliminate  the school-to-prison  pipeline that is  destroying
    educational opportunities for African Americans.   Conversely, the impact of an uninterrupted  school-to-
    prison pipeline may be  to inflict damage on the HBCU system by limiting the number of African Americans who
    can access higher education, and other socio-political venues typically accessible to most Americans.   

    e.  An OHBCUD would coordinate, expand and build upon already established international bridges of cooperation
    that exist among student exchange programs of member institutions and educational centers in countries throughout
    the African Diaspora.

This function of the OHBCUD would be fully consistent with existing human rights instruments,  “recommendations” posed
by the HRC report relative to the US UPR for 2015, principles advocated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Minorities;  
and the United States’ formal declaration of support (December, 2013) for UN Resolution 68/237, in “Proclamation of the
International Decade for People of African Descent”, which began January 1, 2015.      

In ways that are similar to the strategies noted in section “c” above, the OHBCUD would have the centralized capacity to
concentrate, plan, coordinate, and share expertise/resources related to international student exchange programs that
would otherwise not be available at individual HBCUs. Through such synchronized and thoughtfully integrated planning
and cooperation, HBCUs would be better positioned to help identify and facilitate the training and overseas deployment of
students within their varied undergraduate/graduate/ professional school exchange programs. The reciprocal coordination
and arrangements would be also true for foreign students who are desirous of, and appropriately qualify for, study at
HBCU host institutions. This would provide a highly cost-effective, efficient and effective means for such institutions,
students and members of the African American community at large, to cooperate and address a wide array of socio-
cultural and development issues that impact people of African Descent, both at home and abroad.

15. The parameters and nature for such ongoing and institutionalized collaboration related to the OHBCUD would be
established by way of mutual consultation among the U.S. Departments of State and Education, and the
Planning Group”
which proposes, during the course of the academic year 2015-2016, to set the foundation for the
further articulation and development of this national body. Participants presently include but need not be limited to
(alphabetical order):

1. Dr. Edwina Harris Hamby
Vice-President of Development & Sponsored Research, Fisk University, Nashville, TN

2. Dr. Charles W. Richardson, Jr
Dean, School of Business, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC

3. Dr. Delores Bolden Stamps
Vice-President for Institutional Advancement, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS
4.  Attorney Stan E. Willis
National Conference of Black Lawyers, Chicago Chapter, Chicago, IL

5. Dr. Joseph Martin Stevenson
Chief Academic Officer and VP Academic Affairs, Chicago School of Professional Psychology and
Co-Author:  American Treasures:   Building, Leveraging, and Sustaining Capacity in
                Historically Black College and Universities

Final Statement

We thank the members of The State Department US UPR Team for the invitation extended to members of civil society to
attend the town hall meeting and consultation session scheduled for July 20, 2015. Consistent with US Ambassador David
Sullivan’s statement before the “Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of
Action” (April 7,2014); it is fully agreed that there should be more effective and efficient implementation of current human
rights instruments, such that the lives of people of African Descent can be more positively impacted.  To this end, IHRAAM
and members of the above described “Core Planning Group” for the proposed OHBCUD, respectfully submit this
statement. We look forward to continued dialogue.    

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM)
July 20, 2015