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Civil rights leaders press for confirmation of Keith Harper to UN job





The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is urging swift confirmation of Keith Harper to serve as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Harper is a member of the Cherokee Nation. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first member of a federally-recognized tribe to serve in an ambassador-rank post.

"We have worked closely with Mr. Harper for nearly 15 years on international human rights,and have witnessed first hand his deep understanding of the law and his effective advocacy for civil and human rights across the globe," Wade Henderson Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference, which represents more than 210 civil rights groups, said in a letter to the leaders of the Senate.

:Mr. Harper has worked tirelessly in global fora to ensure that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been a prominent topic within the various United Nations human rights bodies," the letter continued. "The U.N. General Assembly will be holding a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014, and Mr. Harper’s presence there on behalf of the United States will send a strong message about the United States’ commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved Harper's nomination but he has yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor. He has the support of Native women leaders, prominent Native activists, the National Congress of American Indians, the Cherokee Nation and other tribes.

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