Across the United States, advocates and government actors are increasingly looking to human rights principles to address pressing concerns. This is especially true at the state and local levels. Since 2011 an increasing number of local government bodies across the country have adopted resolutions or proclamations recognizing that freedom from domestic violence is a human right. This page contains these resolutions and proclamations, laws citing to them, and federal statements that similarly have recognized freedom from domestic violence as a human right.
Updated February 2018. Ongoing efforts to track and analyze these local efforts have been undertaken jointly by Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic, and Cornell Law School’s Gender Justice Clinic.
For more information please contact Elizabeth Brundige, Cornell Law School’s Gender Justice Clinic, and JoAnn Kamuf Ward, the Human Rights in the U.S. Project at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute.
The Miami-Dade County Commission amended its anti-discrimination ordinance in July 2014, adding victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking to the list of protected classes regarding discrimination in employment, family leave, public accommodations, credit and financing practices, and housing accommodations. The amendment cited the language from the 2012 Miami-Dade County domestic violence resolution in its preamble: “Whereas on July 17, 2012, Resolution Number R-644-12 was adopted whereby this Board expressed its intent to join world leaders and leaders within the United States in recognition of domestic violence as a human rights concern and declare that the freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right . . . .”
Between 2014 and 2016, President Barack Obama issued four proclamations on violence against women reaffirming the “basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.” In 2014, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and declaring that “[f]reedom from abuse is a basic human right -and all victims of violence deserve our support.” In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued guidance on identifying and preventing gender bias in law enforcement response to sexual assault and domestic violence, noting that the guidance was intended to “reflect and further the department’s partnership with police leaders, line officers, and detectives who work tirelessly to ensure that policing is free from bias and to uphold the civil and human rights of the communities they serve.” In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued its final regulations implementing the housing protections of the federal Violence Against Women Act, which cited President Obama’s 2014 proclamations that discussed the human right to be free from violence and abuse and stated that “the implementation of the policies laid out in this rule will help to enforce this basic human right.”
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