UNA Members are Championing Human Rights - UNA-USA

UNA Members are Championing Human Rights

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, former UNA-USA Board Chairwoman and Human Rights Champion

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was adopted in 2007 by the UN Human Rights Council. These reports allow civil society to advocate and to take part in the implementation of human rights obligations. In May 2020, the United States will undergo a UPR of its domestic human rights record. This year, as we look to commemorate Human Rights Day on December 10th, we are proud of the work our UNA-USA campus and community chapters have done to promote universal human rights.

Since February 2019, we worked with our chapters to host local UPR consultations to engage the UN on strengthening human rights in the U.S. In total, our chapters held over 30 consultations across the country to discuss the consequences of a diverse range of human rights issues such as climate change, gun violence, criminal justice, human trafficking, and more.

In collaboration with stakeholders across the country, many of our chapters—including UNA-Saint Louis, UNA-Southern New York State Division, and UNA-University of Hawaii at Manoa—submitted reports to the UN Human Rights Council. These consultations engaged young people, working professionals, state senators, and partner organizations to highlight the intersectionality of issues such as climate change’s impact on human rights and the importance of the country’s responsibility to uphold basic liberties.

Too often we neglect to address violations made to basic human rights such as the right to life. This can be no better represented than through the gun violence crisis in America. Gun violence in the U.S. is a human rights issue because it represents the failure of a state to protect the unalienable rights to life and security. In response to the growing urgency for action, UNA-USA and March for Our Lives created a comprehensive, joint-stakeholder report to address the gun violence crisis in the U.S. This crisis manifests itself in the form of widespread mass shootings, urban violence, domestic violence, excessive force by police, and youth gun violence. The UPR report developed by UNA-USA and March for Our Lives is just one of the many examples of the important work from our advocates and stakeholders to create a better world.

While submitting these reports was an integral first step in educating the UN on human rights issues in the U.S., it is only the beginning. In order to ensure the strengthening of human rights in the country, and around the world, we need your voice. You have the power to advocate for real, necessary policy reform. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “ensuring universal human rights begins close to home.” By contacting your representatives and making policy makers aware of these issues, we will be one step closer to living in a world that respects and upholds the human rights of everyone, everywhere.

Want to get involved, but unsure of where to start? You can read the full reports here. Check out some of the key recommendations from the reports that our chapters put together: