In ratifying the Convention, the United States made the following declaration:
This declaration has no effect on the international obligations of the
United States or on its relations with States Parties. However, it does
have the effect of precluding the assertion of rights by private parties
based on the Convention in litigation in U.S. courts. In considering
ratification of previous human rights treaties, in particular the U.N.
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (1994) and the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (1992), both the Executive Branch and the Senate
have considered it prudent to declare that those treaties do not create
new or independently enforceable private rights in U.S. courts. However,
this declaration does not affect the authority of the Federal government
to enforce the obligations that the United States has assumed under the
Convention through administrative or judicial action.
[T]he United States declares that the provisions of the Convention are not
As was the case with prior human rights treaties, existing U.S. law provides protections and remedies sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the present Convention. Moreover, federal, state and local laws already provide a comprehensive basis for challenging discriminatory statutes, regulations and other governmental actions in court, as well as certain forms of discriminatory conduct by private actors. Given the adequacy of the provisions already present in U.S. law, there was no discernible need for the establishment of additional causes of action or new avenues of litigation in order to guarantee compliance with the essential obligations assumed by the United States under the Convention.
This declaration has frequently been misconstrued and misinterpreted. Declaring the Convention to be non-self-executing in no way lessens the obligation of the United States to comply with its provisions as a matter of international law. Neither does it contravene any provision of the treaty or restrict the enjoyment of any right guaranteed by U.S. obligations under the Convention. There is, of course, no requirement in the Convention that States Parties make it "self executing" in their domestic law, or that private parties be afforded a specific cause of action in domestic courts on the basis of the Convention itself. The drafters quite properly left the question of implementation to the domestic laws of each State Party.
The United States is aware of the Committee's preference for the direct inclusion of the Convention into the domestic law of States Parties. Some non-governmental advocacy groups in the United States would also prefer that human rights treaties be made "self-executing" in order to serve as vehicles for litigation. The declaration reflects a different choice, one in favor of retaining existing remedies for private