About us

About ICDR International:
ICDR International is a grassroots and diaspora-driven global Dalit rights organization leading a global movement of people fighting caste- and descent-based discrimination, exclusion and injustice. With over 250 members in caste- and descent-affected countries, we are working to promote the dignity, equality and rights of Dalits and other marginalized and underprivileged people worldwide.

ICDR collaborates, networks, and provides technical support for its members, NGOs, government agencies, and the international community as they strive to promote equal opportunity, proportionate representation in governance, rights and dignity. We investigate, expose discrimination, educate and mobilize the public, provide pro-bono public services, and campaign to leverage for changes in policy and transform societies.

We understand how exclusion and discrimination based on caste/descent, race, origin, hate crimes and gender can have multiple consequences on Dalits and other underprivileged and marginalized people. ICDR promotes the rights of these groups through integrating their struggles with the global human rights and social justice movement.

ICDR is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization in the U.S. with an international governing council, board of directors and advisory committee. Our staff consists of professionals including lawyers, development practitioners, policy-makers, advocates, country experts, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Established in 2006, ICDR is known for its international policy advocacy, impartial reporting, effective coordination and mobilization of diverse organizations, diaspora, media, and collaboration with targeted civil society organizations.

We rely on the generosity of people like you to implement our mission objectives and save lives of victims. Your tax-deductible gift can help us to promote the dignity and rights of underprivileged, marginalized and Dalit people around the world.

Origins and History
In 2001, a Nepali human rights advocate and lawyer, Dil Bishkarma, popularly known as D.B. Sagar, participated in the United Nations World Conference of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance 2001 (WCAR 2001), which provided for the first time an opportunity to strengthen the voice of Dalits and other underprivilege and, marginalized people at the international level. During the WCAR 2001, he and other advocates recognized the need for a global platform of grassroots-driven organizations that would directly represent Dalits and other underprivileged and marginalized people to the international community.

In 2004, D.B. Sagar, then President of the Dalit NGO Federation of Nepal, worked with other Nepal-based national and international NGOs and grassroots organizations to organize the International Consultation on Caste-based Discrimination in Kathmandu, Nepal. This event seeded a milestone idea to create a global platform of grassroots-driven organizations of underprivileged, marginalized and Dalit populations and the international community of human rights organizations. The response to the new idea was enormous and helped to mobilize hundreds of organizations to educate and alert governments and the international community – including the United Nations – to the many ways that human rights of Dalits were being routinely violated. These efforts by human rights activists from different countries evolved into the International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) or, as recently renamed, ICDR International.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21, 2006), Dalit rights leaders and activists in London formally endorsed the General Charter of the ICDR, and announced the formation of ICDR International as a global organization to defend and promote the dignity and rights of Dalits and other underprivileged and marginalized people worldwide. The General Charter is a fundamental set of principles and policies that stands besides and supports the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights conventions.

The General Charter expresses ICDR’s goal of becoming the leading organization that promotes the rights of underprivileged populations as well as ICDR’s commitment to work with other global human rights and social justice organizations in common efforts to establish, protect, and strengthen Dalit rights. The landmark General Charter is a powerful reaffirmation of ICDR values.

In 2008, Fulbright scholar and economist Dr. Damber K Gurung; Professor (Emeritus) of Economics at University of Michigan Dr. Thomas Weisskopf; Professor of Sociology at Florida State University Dr. Mary Cameron; Professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University Dr. Steven Folmar; and returned Peace Corps Volunteer Ms. Wendy Serafin became the key members to set up the ICDR in Washington, D.C. Ashoka Fellow and Founder of National Confederation of Dalit & Adivasi Organizations (NACDOR) of India Mr. Ashok K Bharti served as the first Chairperson of the ICDR’s Board of Directors. Mr. Bharti provided leadership for the organization until 2011. Mr. M. Farook Sait Esq., then Special Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a Senior attorney at law, served as the Chair of the Board from 2011-2013. Mr. Gajadhar Sunar, Dalit Rights leader and then National President of the Dalit NGO Federation of Nepal, Mr. Rajan Lohani, a Social Entrepreneur, and Mr. Narayan Charmakar, a human rights lawyer in Bangladesh, have served as Vice Chair and member respectively of the organization’s International Governing Council since 2013.

Beginning in 2012, ICDR International expanded its activities and leadership throughout South Asia, Europe, the United States, and Diaspora. ICDR has become an emerging global organization under the leadership of new Board of Directors. Donald L. Zimmerman, Ph.D., who has provided leadership and served as the Co-Chair of the Board of Director since 2013. In 2012, An emerging social and economic justice advocate Ms. Elizabeth Clay Roy joined the team and served as Vice President and later member of the Board of Directors. A veteran of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and a human rights/rule of law expert Mr. Rick Gold joined as a Board member and Co-Chair of US Legislative Initiative and Global Initiative since 2012. Mr. Krishna Sob, an international development practitioner, became a Board member and has served as Co-Chair of the Global Conference Organizing Committee and Diaspora Engagement Initiative since 2012. Dr. Maria Suchowski, a statistical evaluation and measurement consultant working with the NGO, Statistics Without Borders, on various international aid projects, joined the ICDR and has served as a Board member and Co-Chair of Committee of Caste Freedom Index. A senior manager and statistician with the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics since 2000, Mr. Myer Glickman, became a part of the ICDR as a Board member and Co-Chair of the Caste Freedom Index Committee. In 2014, a leading social entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mr. Raj Cherukonda, joined the ICDR as a Board member and Co-Chair of Diaspora Engagement Initiative, among other responsibilities. Dr. Purvi Mehta, Assistant Professor at Colorado College, became a Board member and has served as Co-chair of Academic Initiative since 2015.

In recent years, ICDR expanded its activities to include a campaign to encourage specific anti-discrimination legislation and relevant policy measures for governments and their agencies, UN and other international agencies, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. We have been working for the recognition and the effective elimination of discrimination based on caste, work or descent and all other forms of discrimination and prejudice. To address this issue, we have produced and updated the Caste Freedom Index as a tool to support existing international human rights principles, obligations, and frameworks.
In 2014, ICDR, along with Diaspora, Ambedkarite and national and international organizations, organized the first Global March against Caste-Based Discrimination in Washington D.C., which passed in front of the White House and US Congress. The objective of the Global March was to strengthen links among US and international organizations fighting caste-, work- and descent-based discrimination; and to urge US Congress to pass a binding resolution against caste and all forms of discrimination. Such a resolution would expand the geographic scope and impact of the House’s historic 2007 concurrent resolution on untouchability in India.

In 2015, ICDR sponsored the First Global Conference on Dalit Rights and adopted the Dalit Rights Global Declaration 2015, a global framework to promote rights and dignity of Dalits, marginalized, and underprivileged populations. ICDR continues to focus on protecting dignity, rights and lives from caste-based violation, social conflict and exclusion or discrimination in South Asia. We have also published reports that have helped spark grassroots, state, and national policy reforms in Caste-affected countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2015, ICDR worked to ensure rights and proportionate representation of Dalit, underprivileged and marginalized populations in the New Constitution of Nepal.
In 2015, ICDR’s work was acknowledged by the senior officers at the US Department of State. In its letter, the officer said “I am writing to thank you once again for helping us to better understand, and elevate the visibility of, caste discrimination in South Asia. In part because of your good work, we included a specific recommendation in the November 2015 cycle of the Nepal Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on engaging and addressing the needs of Dalits in disaster relief. This is a first for our Nepal engagement through the UN mechanism, and it has set an excellent precedent for the region.”
In 2016, ICDR developed its strategy to provide pro bono legal and community services program in the U.S. to protect immigrants and low-income communities from bigotry and unfair treatment by domestic hate groups and other extremists.
We have hundreds of multi-talented experts, volunteers and leaders who drive the ICDR’s day-to-day operations. Some of them are: Ms. Kenya Tyson, Esq., who has served as Policy Advisor; Dr. Lasonja Kennedy, who has served as CFI Consultant; Ms. Swati Sawant, Esq., who has served as Program Director; Ms. Prachi Vakharia, who has served as Head of Strategy; Ms. Neha Kumar, who has served as Program Officer; Ms. Fridah Charity, who has served as IT and Youth Coordinator; and Ms. Amanda Gant, who has led ICDR as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President.
For more information please contact our staff at icdrintl@icdrintl.org or D.B. Sagar, Founder and President, at dbsagar@icdrintl.org.

OUR MISSION AND OBJECTIVES
Mission:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” ICDR defends and promotes the dignity and rights of Dalits and other underprivileged and marginalized people worldwide. ICDR provides public interest legal and policy services for people fighting caste and descent-based discrimination, exclusion and injustice. We promote dignity, equality and rights of Dalits and other marginalized and underprivileged people worldwide through campaigning, networking, collaborating, and promoting dialogues between policy-makers, civil societies and diverse communities.

Objectives:
• Increase public understanding of and respect for constitutional and international human rights laws and obligations, and hold governments accountable under law.
• Work for equality, diversity, socio-political inclusion and equal opportunity, including human rights, affirmative legal policies, and meaningful access to justice for all people.
• Eliminate caste- or descent-based discrimination and all other forms of discrimination, inequality and injustice.
• Promote the dignity and rights of Dalits and other underprivileged and marginalized people.
• Provide benefits, programs and services that promote members’ and allies’ institutional and professional growth and quality of service and life.
• Provide and promote pro-bono public interest services for minorities, Dalits and other underprivileged and marginalized people.