Behind the Scenes: Universal Periodic Review Sessions at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit

During the 2019 Global Leadership Summit, UNA-USA members participated in five Universal Periodic Review (UPR) sessions: Ensuring the Rights of Migrants and Refugees, Realizing Gender Equality, Ensuring the Rights of Older Persons, Combating All Forms of Racism, and Realizing LGBTI Equality. Through this they shared their direct, firsthand experiences on the domestic U.S. human rights record and offered constructive ideas  and recommendations. As rapporteur for the UPR sessions, UNA-USA’s Advocacy and Community Engagement Intern—Julian Dorsey—recorded members’ experiences and feedback for incorporation into UNA-USA’s UPR Stakeholder Report. The report will be submitted to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of the U.S. in 2020. These are his greatest takeaways from the UPR discussions.

Participating in the UPR sessions during the Global Leadership Summit was a tremendously impactful experience.  From looking up from my notes and seeing rooms overflowing with advocates standing up for human rights, to hearing the vulnerability in individuals’ stories when sharing personal experiences, it was an honor participating in these discussions with attendees.

In each UPR session I was impressed by the breadth of knowledge, diversity, and experiences that members from across the country brought to the conversation. I was constantly reminded that UNA-USA is truly a unique grassroots movement – inspiring Americans from all manner of backgrounds to stand together in support for the UN and advancing human rights around the world.

I was often, particularly struck by the stories and experiences of individuals who lived in rural communities.  As someone who has lived in Washington, D.C. for the last five years, it is easy to get caught up in the D.C. (or big city) mainstream, cultural elite bubble that insulates itself from the rest of the country.  Similarly, as individuals with our own perceptions of reality, it is easy to not grasp what is at stake for everyone else in the human rights discussion. Conversations like the UPR sessions are important so that we can expand our understanding of the biases, societal pressures, and other factors – like geographic location – that impact others’ human rights.

Prominent Recommendations from Sessions

  • The U.S. should rejoin the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.
  • Lawmakers should expand social security benefits across the board. – Ensuring the Rights of Older Persons
  • Pass laws to improve access to quality, guaranteed healthcare to all Americans and improve access to affordable drugs. – Ensuring the Rights of Older Persons
  • Increase training for police and law enforcement officials on interacting with elderly individuals with mental disabilities. – Ensuring the Rights of Older Persons
  • The U.S. should pass the Equality Act to add federal protections in housing, employment, and health care to LGBTI Americans. – Realizing LGBTI Equality
  • Restore the right of trans people to serve in the military – Realizing LGBTI Equality
  • The U.S. should reclaim global leadership on LGBTI rights. – Realizing LGBTI Equality
  • Stop the epidemic of violence against trans people and trans women of color. – Realizing LGBTI Equality
  • Pass H.R. 40 to establish the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans. – Combating All Forms of Racism
  • Pass laws to increase accountability and transparency within police departments. – Combating All Forms of Racism
  • Prohibit federal law enforcement authorities from engaging in racial profiling and investigate the disproportionate use of deadly force against individuals of color by state and local police. – Combating All Forms of Racism

I encourage all UNA members to continue the discussion about the state of human rights in America.  Here is how you can continue standing for human rights:

  • Host your own UPR Consultation Session. Click this link to learn how! UPR Toolkit
  • Ask your Members of Congress to support the UN’s work to achieve gender equality by 2030.
    Instructions: Text EQUAL to 738-674
  • Ask your Members of Congress to stand with refugees, and support the UN’s work to ensure the rights of migrants and displaced people around the world.
    Instructions: Text REFUGEES to 738-674
  • Ask your Members of Congress to support the UN’s work to combat climate change, and uphold the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement.
    Instructions: Text EARTH to 738-674
  • Ask your Members of Congress to support UN’s work to ensure all people have access to quality education so they may build a brighter future.
    Instructions: Text READ to 738-674
  • Ask your Members of Congress to support the UN’s work to ensure the rights of LGBTI people around the world.
    Instructions: Text LGBTI to 738-674