In December 2022 the United Nations launched the first meeting of a new body charged with guiding the UN in work to end racial discrimination and systemic racism and to develop concrete steps and action plans to further reparatory justice. Delegate Justin Hansford sees the Forum as a potential "instrument of liberation" that will require continued struggle by grassroots communities to push forward needed changes. Our Human Rights Cities Alliance is committed to working to support local actions that reinforce the Forum's work and engage cities and municipal officials in its transformative agenda.
The United States is a party to this Convention, which means it must undergo a regular review of its policies to assess its compliance with international legal obligations and expectations under this treaty. The process invites community advocates to submit "shadow reports" documenting abuses as well as good practices and offering recommendations for how local and national government policies can better support U.S. treaty obligations.
The Universal Periodic Review process involves quadrennial reviews of every United Nations member government's human rights performance. The Human Rights Cities Alliance supports local community work to participate in this process with guidance and models to help groups prepare local stakeholder reports to submit to the UPR Committee. The last review of the United States took place in 2019, and the next one will be in 2025.
The Human Rights Cities Alliance organizes occasional meetings and webinars to help share ideas and promote human rights consciousness and learning about the politics of human rights in global spaces like the United Nations. Below we share links to recordings of past programs.
January 24, 2023. Reports from the Inaugural session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. In December 2022 the United Nations launched the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (UNPFPAD) as part of the International Decade on People of African Descent (2015-2024). Activists who attended this historic, inaugural meeting of the PFPAD share their observations on how this new body can be a tool for building local and national movements to end white supremacy and advance racial justice.
Panelists: Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy and Policy, Southern Poverty Law Center; Charkera Ervin, Howard University School of Law/ Movement Lawyering Clinic; Efia Nwangaza, SNCC Veteran, Civil/Human Rights Attorney, Director Malcolm X Center for Self Determination; Tiffany Williams Roberts, Director of Public Policy Unit, Southern Center for Human Rights; Gretchen Rohr, US-Liaison and Global Strategic Litigation Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative. Webinar Co-sponsors: U.S. Human Rights Cities Alliance, Southern Center for Human Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, Ubuntu Institute for Community Development, Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, Global Studies Center & the Center for African Studies-University of Pittsburgh
November 18, 2022 (1Hood Media). After Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri, Justin Hansford helped Brown family members bring their appeal for justice to the United Nations See Ferguson to Geneva. This conversation brings together Black community leaders, advocates, and educators to discuss this effort and understand how we can make use of UN bodies like the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent to promote racial equity and fight white supremacy. What role do our communities play in building global tools to help defend and advance our human rights? Panelists: Dr. Rashad Williams, Assistant Professor of Race and Social Justice in Public Policy, University of Pittsburgh (Host), Tiffany Williams Roberts, Director of Public Policy Unit, Southern Center for Human Rights (Atlanta) & Steering Committee member, U.S. Human Rights Cities Alliance; Randall Taylor, Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition
October 29, 2020. Dialogue featuring Leilani Farha—former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Adequate Housing, joined by housing and human rights leaders from Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and New York.
July 9, 2020. Black resistances to dismantle violent police repression in the crux of the pandemic in the United States have inspired a global wave of resistance to both the immediate threats from violent police repression and the wider systemic forces that drive racial inequities and fuel what UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, E. Tendayi Achiume has called “a human rights crisis of existential proportions.” The global community has become activated like never before to demand accountability and transformative changes to address long-standing injustices. This webinar will offer context and clarity to help community leaders and activists learn how global human rights law and institutions can support our movements for fundamental changes in the United States. Participants will learn more about organizing work to hold local and national authorities accountable to global human rights. Speakers: Dominique Day, UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Ejim Dike, former Executive Director, US Human Rights Network; Jamil Dakwar ACLU Human Rights Program Director; Salimah Hankins, Acting Director, US Human Rights Network. Facilitators: Johnaca Dunlap-Ubuntu Institute & US Human Rights Cities Alliance Steering Committee; Rob Robinson-International Alliance of Inhabitants & US Human Rights Cities Alliance Steering Committee.
June 11, 2020. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed and deepened the long-standing housing crisis in our communities. At a time when everyone’s health demands that all residents have a safe and stable home, more and more people face housing insecurity and homelessness. How can cities and communities better protect people’s right to adequate housing? This webinar features Julieta Perucca, assistant to the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Adequate Housing and currently Deputy Director of global housing rights initiative, The Shift. Learn about the human right to housing around the world and strategies for using international law and the United Nations to advance housing and other human rights. We’ll hear from leaders in Birmingham and other cities using innovative strategies for keeping people in their homes and expanding affordable housing. City Representatives: Brandon Johnson, Director of the Office of Peace and Policy, City of Birmingham; Daniel Joseph Wiley, Newark Ironbound Community; Crystal Jennings, Housing justice organizer with Pittsburgh’s Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition & City of Bridges Community Land Trust; Timothy Franzen, American Friends Service Committee & Alison Johnston, Housing Justice League, Atlanta. This forum was hosted in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, as part of its series, Learning from COVID-19: Shaping a Health and Human Rights Agenda for our Region, the US Human Rights Network and Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute