Last week, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a draft evaluation of US performance in upholding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. While some progress was acknowledged, serious lapses – including NSA spying and failures of accountability – were detailed.

When America calls others to account for human rights offenses, it must be ready to acknowledge and correct its own lapses.

Last week, a bipartisan group of 52 members of Congress urged President Obama to address human rights concerns in his meeting with Saudi King Abdullah. During the same week, the UN Human Rights Committee assessed US compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – and found the US wanting in many respects.

The ICCPR defines fundamental civil and political rights, including the rights to life, due process, fair trial and privacy. It also enshrines various freedoms, including the freedom from torture, and provides for equal protection. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, the ICCPR came into force in March 1976. The US became a state member in 1992.

Chaired by Sir Nigel Rodley, a British law professor, the Human Rights Committee of 18 independent human rights experts monitors the ICCPR. The […]

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