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The United States is committed to promoting and protecting human rights. In the words of President Barack H. By no means is America perfect.

But it is our commitment to certain universal values which allows us to correct our imperfections, to improve constantly, and to grow stronger over time. Freedom of speech and assembly has allowed women, and minorities, and workers to protest for full and equal rights at a time when they were denied. The rule of law and equal administration of justice has busted monopolies, shut down political machines that were corrupt, ended abuses of power.

Independent media have exposed corruption at all levels of business and government. Competitive elections allow us to change course and hold our leaders accountable. Because at the time of our founding, I had no rights -- people who looked like me. But it is because of that process that I can now stand before you as President of the United States. Treaty reporting is a way in which the Government of the United States can inform its citizens and the international community of its efforts to ensure the implementation of those obligations it has assumed, while at the same time holding itself to the public scrutiny of the international community and civil society.

This is why we are committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves. The United States hopes to use this process to improve its human rights performance.

Thus, this report is not an end in itself, but an important tool in the continuing development of practical and effective human rights strategies by the U. The United States has provided the text and explanations for reservations, understandings and declarations it undertook at the time it became a State Party to the Covenant in its prior reports. For purposes of brevity those descriptions and explanations will not be repeated in this report. In this report, the United States has considered carefully the views expressed by the Committee in its prior written communications and public sessions with the United States.

During preparation of this report, the U. Government has consulted with representatives of civil society and has sought information and input from their organizations. Civil society representatives have raised a variety of concerns on many of the topics addressed in this report, a number of which are noted in the text of the report. The United States Government has also reached out to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to seek information from their human rights entities on their programs and activities, which play an important part in implementing the Covenant and other human rights treaties.

Information received from this outreach is referenced in some portions of the report and described in greater detail in Annex A to the Common Core Document.

The United States remains firmly committed to the principle of self-determination, and that principle, set forth in Article 1 of the Covenant, remains at the core of American political life. Constitution, Articles I and II. The Insular Areas 6. The United States continues to exercise sovereignty over a number of Insular Areas, each of which is unique and constitutes an integral part of the U.

Paragraphs of the Initial Report and paragraphs of the combined Second and Third Periodic Report set forth the policy of the United States of promoting self-government in the Insular Areas of the United States. They include Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth that is self-governing under its own constitution; Guam, an unincorporated, organized territory of the United States; American Samoa, an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States; the U.

Virgin Islands, an unincorporated, organized territory of the United States; and the Northern Mariana Islands, a self-governing commonwealth in political union with the United States. The United States has recognized as sovereign, self-governing nations three other areas that were formerly districts of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands: Compacts of Free Association are currently in force between the United States and these three nations.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. As reported in paragraph 8 of the combined Second and Third Periodic Report, the people of Puerto Rico have expressed their views on their relationship with the United States in a number of public referenda, most recently in December In President George H. Bush declared the policy that the will of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their political status should be ascertained periodically through referenda sponsored either by the United States Government or by the legislature of Puerto Rico, 57 F.

This policy has been continued by Presidents Clinton, George W. In , President Obama expanded the mandate of the Task Force to include recommendations on policies that promote job creation, education, health care, clean energy, and economic development in Puerto Rico.

American Indians and Alaska Natives 9. The United States is home to over federally recognized tribes, with about 50 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population residing on or near their homelands. The United States holds 56 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface mineral estates in trust for American Indians in the contiguous 48 United States, while Alaska Natives and their corporations have property rights in more than 44 million acres of land in Alaska.

More than 40 years have passed since the United States adopted the policy of greater tribal autonomy. It has enabled tribal governments to establish, develop and enhance tribal institutions and infrastructure ranging from those addressing the health, education and welfare of their communities to those such as tribal courts, fire protection and law enforcement, which have allowed tribes to better protect their communities.

The lesson is that empowering tribes to deal with the challenges they face and taking advantage of the available opportunities will result in tribal communities that thrive. Despite the success of this policy, however, the devastating consequences of past policies still haunt the United States. Tribal communities still suffer among the most challenging socioeconomic conditions. Some reservations face unemployment rates of up to 80 percent.

Nearly a quarter of all Native Americans live in poverty. Approximately 14 percent of homes on reservations do not have electricity; and 9 percent do not have access to a safe water supply.

In some instances, poverty leads to crime and exposure to crime, and Native communities are faced with an increase of youth gangs, violent crime at rates higher than the national average, and high rates of violence against women and children. They are also faced with low rates of school matriculation and completion, and disproportionate health disparities.

In the face of these challenges, President Obama believes that tribal leaders must be part of the solution. Thus, the Obama Administration seeks to build relationships between the federal government and tribal governments that rest on mutual respect and working together on a government-to-government basis within the U.

To address the myriad challenges noted above, the Administration has taken a number of steps to strengthen the government-to-government relationships between the United States and federally recognized tribes.

For example, on November 5, , President Obama reached out to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes by inviting representatives from the more than federally recognized tribes in the United States to attend a White House Tribal Nations Conference.

President Obama delivered opening and closing remarks and participated in interactive discussion with the leaders. Specific discussions in areas such as economic development and natural resources, public safety and housing, education, and health and labor, were also led by other high-level Administration representatives.

During , the White House issued a progress report following up on the Conference. Government and federally recognized tribes. The White House issued a synopsis of the event at: The accompanying statement is at: This announcement underscores the U. The decision represents an important and meaningful change in the U. During the closing session, tribal leaders heard from Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama delivered closing remarks. Earlier the same day, President Obama signed an Executive Order that establishes an initiative that will help expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all American Indian and Alaska Native students, including opportunities to learn their Native languages, cultures, and histories and receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college and a career and productive and satisfying lives.

Secretary Salazar also pledged to seek to resolve the longstanding litigation concerning the management of Native American lands and assets, as well as the settlement of water rights claims. Secretary Salazar stated that the Department of the Interior would look at ways to preserve native languages through the Indian education system, and would examine other issues related to education.

He further stated that he would work to strengthen tribal court systems, and that he planned to address the serious declining conditions of detention facilities in Indian country as well as staffing needs for those facilities. The office is charged with directing and implementing energy planning and programs that assist tribes with energy development and electrification of Native American lands and homes.

The office has done extensive outreach to Indian tribes regarding energy issues on tribal lands and in May held a Department of Energy Tribal Summit that brought together over participants, including tribal leaders and high-ranking cabinet officials, to interact directly on energy development and related issues. Government is also working with tribal leaders to bring high speed internet access to their communities. These infrastructure investments go hand-in-hand with a wide range of projects to create jobs in Indian communities and prepare American Indians and Alaska Natives to fill them.

Federal Government Indian trust relationship. The federal government-Indian trust relationship dates back in some instances over two centuries, and arises from a series of Supreme Court decisions, federal statutes regulating trade with Indian tribes, and Indian treaties.

The trust had a term of 25 years, at which point a fee patent would issue to the individual Indian allottee. Allotted lands remained allotted, but the IRA provided that unallotted surplus Indian lands would return to tribal ownership.

The Act extended the trust period indefinitely for allotted lands. The federal government retained control of lands already allotted, but not yet fee-patented, and thereby retained its fiduciary obligations to administer the trust lands and funds arising from those lands for the benefit of individual Indian beneficiaries. In addition to the IIM accounts, the federal government also holds lands in trust for the tribes.

The Secretary of the Interior may collect income from tribal trust property and may deposit it for the benefit of the relevant tribe in the United States Treasury or other depository institution.

Approximately 56 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface mineral estates are held in federal trust for the use and benefit of tribes and individual Indians. Trust land is maintained both on and off Indian reservations, and may not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise restricted without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

A significant number of acres of land are also owned in fee status whereby an Indian tribe holds the fee to the land pending consideration of a trust acquisition by the United States. The Department of the Interior has taken , acres of land into trust for tribes in the past two years as part of its effort to restore tribal homelands. In addition, as noted above, Alaska Natives and their corporations have property rights in more than 44 million acres of land in Alaska. If a tribe chose not to manage its own trust accounts, or if the BIA found that a tribe could not fulfill the necessary fiduciary obligations, the government retained control over the accounts.

See Cobell, F. The Cobell case was filed in as a class action on behalf of approximately , individual beneficiaries of IIM accounts, alleging that the Secretaries of the Interior and Treasury had breached their fiduciary duties relating to accounting of IIM accounts, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, see Cobell v.

The district court found for the plaintiffs in the initial phase of the case, and the U. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed and remanded for further proceedings, see Cobell v. In September , the district court entered an injunction setting forth detailed requirements for both trust administration and accounting, see Cobell v.

In , the district court held that DOI continued to breach its duty to account for trust funds, but that an accounting of the funds was impossible as a matter of law. Both the plaintiffs and the federal government appealed these rulings. In July , the U. After fourteen years of litigation, enactment of the Claims Resolution Act finally closed an unfortunate chapter in U. In addition, this law includes an unprecedented package of four water settlements benefitting seven tribes and their members in Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico.

In addition to the Cobell case, which concerns trust funds for individual Indians, a number of tribes have sued the federal government in federal district courts and the Court of Federal Claims claiming failure to provide accountings of tribal trust funds and trust assets, and mismanagement of those funds and assets.

The plaintiffs seek accountings and money damages. Overall, approximately tribal trust accounting and asset mismanagement cases are pending against the federal government. To ensure that Native Americans are represented among the top officials in this Administration, President Obama and heads of federal departments and agencies have appointed a number of Native Americans to high-level positions.


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