USA Law and Human Rights (answer all questions)

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USA Law and Human Rights

Instructions: You may refer to any books, articles, notes, or other materials. No citations are required.

PART I. SHORT ANSWER. Answer in 3 sentences. (40% total, 2% for each question)

1. List the sources of international law.

2. What is the difference between a treaty signatory and a state party?

3. As a signatory to the ICESCR, what obligation does the United States have according to Article 18 of the VCLT?

4. Can Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid programs in the United States ever go bankrupt? Explain.

5. Does a government that issues its own currency first need to collect tax money in order to be able to spend on programs such as free higher education, free mental and physical health care, free child care, a job guarantee, or reparations? Explain.

6. What is problematic about the phrase “taxpayer’s money”?

7. What is the primary constraint on government spending for a government that issues its own currency?

8. For a state to be fully in compliance with CEDAW, women must hold what percentage of public offices?

9. What is jus cogens? List three examples.

10. Philip Alston, NYU Professor of Law and UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, writes in his “Statement on Visit to the USA”: “Poverty is a political choice made by those in power.” Briefly explain what Alston means by this.

11. The intent doctrine of discrimination in U.S. domestic law “violates CERD’s very definition of discrimination” and “does not further [CERD’s] human rights objectives.” How does the U.S. intent doctrine violate CERD?

12. What is the difference between the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Human Rights Committee?

13. What is UPR?

14. What is the difference between the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR)?

15. Who was the chairperson of the drafting committee of the UDHR in 1946?

16. Is an asylum seeker and someone applying for refugee status the same thing?

a. Yes

b. No

17. What is an NHRI? Does your country have one (list which country you’re referring to)? Should your country have one?

18. How many UN special rapporteurs and other special mandate holders are there (roughly, doesn’t have to be exact)? List three examples of a UN special rapporteur or other special mandate holder.

19. What four countries voted against the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and why did they vote against a treaty to ban apartheid?

20. What is the only country in the world that refuses to become a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child?


PART II. ANSWER IN Two PARAGRAPH (you can go longer than Two

paragraphs if you want, but it’s not required). (60% total, 10% each question)

1. UNHCR Hypothetical Case: Bashir (19) is a citizen of Oberon. He belongs to a minority ethnic group. Fifteen years ago, the Government of Oberon stripped the members of his ethnic group of their citizenship and took their land. The authorities stopped issuing identity documents to members of this minority. Instead, they are designated as ‘foreigners’ or ‘unregistered’ and on this basis, their stay in Oberon is tolerated. Oberon is not a prosperous country, and members of Bashir’s ethnic minority have only limited access to the labor market. They are not entitled to public education nor are they allowed to form political parties or other organizations. Some members of the ethnic group who have spoken out and demanded respect for the human rights of the members of the group have been imprisoned and mistreated. For all these reasons, Bashir feels that he has no future in Oberon. He crosses the border and applies for refugee status in neighboring Titania. The asylum authorities in Titania reject Bashir’s application on the basis that ‘the circumstances on which he based his claim – i.e., that he “has no future in Oberon” – are not foreseen by the 1951 Convention and do not give rise to refugee status.’

a) Do you agree with the reasoning of Titania’s asylum authorities? Please elaborate.

b) Does Bashir meet the inclusion criteria of the refugee definition contained in the 1951 Convention? List the elements of the refugee definition and consider whether each of them is satisfied.

c) Is Bashir a refugee? (yes or no)

2. The American Convention on Human Rights does not explicitly mention a right to same-sex marriage. How did the Inter-American Court of Human Rights draw on several

articles of the American Convention on Human Rights to secure the right to same-sex marriage in its 2017 advisory opinion requested by Costa Rica?

3. Chose one issue of racial discrimination in the United States or another country and list in bullet form the violations of CERD with a brief explanation (one or more sentences). If the government were to claim that this discrimination was not intentional, is that a valid defense under CERD?

a. Yes

b. No

4. How can citizens’ assemblies be used to address human rights violations? Should citizens’ assemblies be mandatory for or any issue or replace any part of the government?

5. Pick at least one issue from the Covid-19 moot court and explain how you would rule on that issue.

6. How would you redesign social systems to address systemic human rights violations?

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