UNA-USA Launches New UPR Digital Toolkit

In response to COVID-19, the UN has taken several smart measures to ensure the safety of diplomats and activists, including suspending the current session of the Human Rights Council and closing UN Headquarters to the public.

But with a big UN review of human rights in the U.S. through the “Universal Periodic Review” now less than two months away, UNA-USA is pulling out all the stops so that advocates can impact the process online, whether right from their home or campus.

Specifically, UNA-USA is launching a groundbreaking digital toolkit for advocates at all levels to impact the upcoming U.S. UPR which happens just once every four years. The toolkit is based on findings and recommendations from more than 30 consultations that UNA-USA chapter and partners organized in 2019.

The new toolkit offers specific messaging and ready-made posts focusing on combating trafficking, the rights of women and girls, LGBTI equality, climate change, race and criminal justice, gun safety, the rights of migrants, and other issues.

The posts target UN missions and diplomats in Geneva who will be participating in the UPR process and ultimately issuing recommendations to the U.S. on strengthening its human rights record in May during its UPR.

In short, the more visibility we can give to the UPR and strong recommendations that attempt to solve human rights challenges in the U.S., the better! Moreover, given COVID-19 has resulted in the suspension of the current session of the UN Human Rights Council, this presents a key opportunity to take advocacy online.

The toolkit can be viewed here. If you have questions on the UPR and toolkit, please check out the FAQs below or contact rkaminski@unausa.org

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So, what is this “UPR” anyway?

The Universal Periodic Review is a tool of the UN Human Rights Council that examines the human rights records of all 193 UN members every four years. It applies to everyone (universal), it happens at regular intervals (periodic), and it’s an overall assessment (review). A great thing about the UPR is that there are of opportunities to impact the process. Think of it as like a leaving a “Yelp Review” on a country’s human rights record.

Umm, this toolkit targets embassies of different countries in Geneva. Isn’t this review about the U.S.?

You’re right! This toolkit focuses on engaging UN missions of different countries who have led on specific human rights issues in previous UPRs. During the UPR, countries actually make recommendations to other countries. Offering helpful advice to countries is the most strategic way to connect UNA-USA’s recommendations to the process. UNA-USA already did the research on which countries tend to make strong recommendations on specific human rights issues; the next stop is to connect with those countries.

Alright, so let’s say I use the toolkit. Then what?

Terrific! Using the toolkit, we can help put a spotlight on recommendations from people across the U.S. with the UN missions most likely to pick them up for the U.S. UPR on May 11. Given the uncertainty regarding COVID-19, engaging online will be one of the most practical and significant ways to impact the U.S. UPR.

How can I learn more about UNA-USA’s engagement on the UPR?

Glad you want to learn more! Click here to see the results of our more than 30 campus and community consultations across the country along with our full list of recommendations to UN member states ahead of the U.S. UPR.  You can also check out a webinar of UNA-USA and other NGOs discussing the U.S. UPR and specific human rights recommendations here.