The International Human Rights
Association of American Minorities
by Diana G. Collier
The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) is a non-profit international human rights NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). It functions as an umbrella organization, serving to facilitate and coordinate the efforts of individuals, minorities and community organizations to gain access to international law and its enforcement mechanisms.
IHRAAM also holds Associate Status with the U.N. Department of Public Information, Observer Status with The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and several other important international organizations. It consults with such organizations as the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, ECOSOC, the Organization on Security & Cooperation in Europe. IHRAAM was first conceptualized by Dr. Y. N. Kly during his studies at The Hague Academy of International Law, and initiated thanks to the understanding and solidarity of Dr. Farid Muhammad, Dr. Charles Knox, Dr. A. Sakr, Dr. Yvonne King and Diana Collier, without which IHRAAM may not have been possible. Its proposed program was first presented to the African-American community through volunteers who distributed a street petition in all parts of the U.S. (and some parts of Africa), collecting names of African-Americans who wanted the African-American situation to be taken to the U.N. Among these many, the names of Babatunde, Jerrold Gresham, Tele Emani, and Irish Green stand out, in relation to the sheer volume and consistency of their efforts. IHRAAM was formally incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Chicago in 1988, London in 1996, and Canada in 1997.
Over the past decade, IHRAAM has sought to promote public awareness of all legal instruments for minority and human rights protection as subscribed to by the United Nations and international law, particularly as it relates to the situation of formerly enslaved minorities in the Americas and elsewhere. To that end, it has facilitated U.N. briefings for representatives of minority organizations, provided internship for students wishing to study at the U.N. or elsewhere, submitted petitions under U.N. Special Resolution 1503, submitted briefs concerning state reports to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, provided consultation at U.N. request, provided speakers to a wide range of organizations, and numerous other activities. IHRAAM has facilitated the interventions at international fora of organizations representing the Dalits of India, Kashmiris, African-Americans, the Kuiu Kwan, the Haitian minority in the Dominican Republic, the Nauxalk Nation, and others.
Three exciting new approaches have been developed in the past year to further IHRAAM’s international human rights work: the development of a Web site, the launching of IHRAAM’s International Legal Studies Program in cooperation with Barrington University in Iowa City, and the establishment of a consulting service, permitting professionalization of our advocacy assistance.
The IHRAAM Web site contains a range of information not only concerning IHRAAM’s activities and services, but also related to U.N. affairs, international law, and international human rights violation situations. The menu "Using the U.N. to Advance Minority Concerns" houses regularly updated information on a wide diversity of groups’ efforts as it relates to minority and human rights issues.
Thanks to Barrington University’s expanding outreach in a number of developing countries, the IHRAAM International Legal Studies Program will provide the public with the unique opportunity to earn accredited international law degrees, including specializations in international human rights law, via distance learning.
Heretofore, the accredited study of international law (particularly international public law) has remained nearly inaccessible to the public at large, tucked away as it presently is in the law schools of elite universities. Through the IHRAAM program, however, a much wider diversity of students can access this area, thereby enhancing their advocacy efforts by enabling them to function as international legal juridical conseillers. Mentorship in the IHRAAM program will be provided by recognized international legal scholars. The program is sensitive and adaptive to students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and offers them the opportunity to intern with international organizations such as the United Nations.
IHRAAM’s consulting services in matters related to international law may be of particular interest to those seeking to integrate human rights into the curricula not only of schools, but also of important social science disciplines such as Social Work. It may also prove useful to organizations dealing with domestic human rights issues who are seeking to attune their efforts with international norms.
|Contact IHRAAM at:
Ste. 253, 919C Albert Street
Regina, SK S4R 2P6, Canada
phone / fax: 306–789–0474
Diana G. Collier is Director of Communications, IHRAAM.