US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



Atlanta Human Rights Cities Convening - Summary and Outcomes

May 15, 2019

On April 26-28, 2019, the National Human Rights Cities Alliance led a Human Rights Cities Convening in Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta gathering was the most recent of a series of ongoing events since 2015 to develop the Human Rights Cities model in the United States. 

At last month’s gathering, over 50 attendees from Atlanta and surrounding areas, and from as far as Florida and Washington state, focused on three key issue areas in their discussions: Economic Justice, Land and Cooperative Organizing; Reproductive Justice and Voting Rights; and Human Migration, Mobility and Freedom. Discussions were facilitated by Cooperative Atlanta, Organization for Human Rights and Democracy, US Human Rights Network, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, SisterSong, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and the Human Rights Cities Alliance national organizing team. In addition, the Alliance held sessions on Human Rights Cities, the human rights framework, and international mechanisms.


The Convening was an opportunity to foster and encourage connections between local grassroots organizations across the country who face similar struggles in their cities, such as corporate influences on local human rights and ongoing struggles against sports authorities and other forces that are displacing local residents in Atlanta and other cities. Meaningful discussions and planning occurred between a cross-section of local Atlanta organizers as well, as Atlanta-based human rights defenders were able to share their tactics and strategies with the group and receive constructive feedback from fellow activists.

Launch of the UPR Cities Project

The upcoming United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the United States provided a focal point for participants’ discussions of strategies for doing local organizing within a human rights framework. The weekend gathering served as the launch of what national organizers are calling the “UPR Cities Project.” The UPR Cities Project provides a toolkit for organizers that can help support and encourage local conversations about human rights conditions while shaping our national “Human Rights Cities shadow report” for the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the US in Geneva.

The new initiative seeks to engage residents and use the UPR to strengthen their own local claims, ultimately transforming an international mechanism into a powerful organizing tool to make visible human rights violations in the US, and also to engage grassroots communities on the human rights framework and international law. 

The National Human Rights Cities Alliance officially launched a UPR Cities Project website which includes “The 3 C’s”: Key Steps to Participating in the UPR Cities Project:

The 3 C's - banner

Collect local testimony about human rights: Convene community conversations about the state of human rights in your locale and invite residents to provide their experiences about the state of human rights in your community.
Compile national and local reports and recommendations: Prepare a summary report of local human rights conditions, achievements, and recommendations for change to be included in the national shadow report that we’ll send to the United Nations and for lobbying local authorities.
Clamor about results of the UPR process with local officials and residents. Once the reports are done, it's time to make sure our elected officials hear what both residents and the international community are saying, and increase local residents' skills in "human rights enforcement." 
On Thursday, May 16, the Human Rights Cities Alliance will hold its first UPR Cities webinar at 6:00PM EDT. Please join them for an informational webinar to learn more about how activists and organizers can participate in the UPR Cities Project. 
The Convening was presented by the National Human Rights Cities Alliance, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), US Human Rights Network, Turn South: Southern Women for Change, Organization for Human Rights and Democracy, SisterSong, 9to5 Georgia, and Ubuntu Institute for Community Development.

The National Human Rights Cities Alliance is a member-led and organized initiative of the USHRN. It works to strengthen relationships among human rights city organizers, including grassroots and local advocates for human rights cities, national and international human rights advocates, scholar-practitioners, and others working to advance human rights.