Pittsburgh & the World--Bringing Human Rights Home
In 2019-2020, the United States is undergoing a comprehensive human rights assessment through the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Pittsburgh community leaders will be working with other Human Rights Cities to provide local documentation and recommendations for this review of the US human rights record (See: UPR Cities Project). A UPR Pittsburgh Planning Committee made up of community organizers and representatives from City agencies working to advance human rights is producing a report for the UN's Universal Periodic Review and using this to shape ongoing conversations about human rights in our region.
We're working to compile reports on the state of human rights in our region while also building networks to help promote better human rights practices. Following the submission of our report to the UN, we'll continue to build on that and engage residents in consultations about local human rights conditions as we develop strategies for realizing human rights in our communities. Before the UN convenes its UPR review of the United States (now planned for Monday, November 9), we'll release a local human rights report, in preparation for the United Nations review of the U.S. national human rights record. We'll be working with cities around the country to help draw attention to this global conversation about human rights and the responsibility of governments at all levels to do much more to carry out their obligations under international human rights law.
Our reports will be used to promote public awareness and policy responses to our regional human rights conditions and to build political will—that is, a broad-based political constituency that is vocal and active in support and defense of human rights for all residents. A key goal of the UPR Cities initiative is movement-building to build the political will, skills, and collective momentum to carry out these recommendations and re-orient our community so that human rights are the top priority—not a by-product of economic growth and conventional “development.” We want UPR City activities we do support the ongoing work by community and grassroots organizations and to broaden our networks of mutual support and cooperation for human rights.
This work is being led and coordinated by the Pittsburgh Universal Periodic Review task force, which includes: Alliance for Police Accountability, Casa San Jose, Green Party of Allegheny County, Hill District Consensus Group, Pittsburgh for CEDAW, Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, Just Harvest, City of Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission & Gender Equity Commission, Urbankind Institute, and others. NOTE: Virtually all of our work is strictly volunteer: We have no grants or paid staff supporting this work, so volunteers are needed and most welcome to help us build this effort!
Media Release: Pittsburgh Youth and Community Leaders Travel to Washington DC to Make an “Appeal to the World” for Human Rights February 27, 2020
Submissions to the United Nations
- Racial Inequity at the Core of Human Rights Challenges in Pittsburgh -Full Pittsburgh Stakeholder Report to United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the U.S. Government, 2-Page Summary
- Pittsburgh joins other US Cities in UN Report: "Corporate Influence Threatens Human Rights in Communities Nationwide" (*For more details on the national campaign see UPR Cities Initiative).
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF UNITED STATES CIVIL SOCIETY STAKEHOLDERS’ REPORTS, submitted by US Human Rights Network
Community Forum Series
The UPR Pittsburgh coalition has organized a series of community forums to help inform our submission to the United Nations and to help us build community engagement around a local human rights report which we will deliver to City and County officials alongside the UN UPR process, which is now scheduled to meet in Geneva for the formal review of the U.S. government in November 2020.
- Pittsburgh community groups are engaged in a parallel process of reviewing local compliance with international human rights expectations and generating recommendations for how we can better realize all aspects of human rights for all residents, especially those who are most vulnerable and historically marginalized. Below is a list of planned and previous community forums.
Upcoming Forums Learning from COVID-19: Shaping a Health and Human Rights Agenda for our Region. Alternate Thursdays 4:00-5:30PM (Online) April 30, May 14, May 28, June 11.
- August, 2019: Immigrant and Refugee Rights
- September, 2019: Housing as a human right
- October, 2019: The Human Right to Food
- November, 2019: Health as a Human Right
- December, 2019: Human rights and decent work
- January 25, 2020: Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit Session: "Bringing Reparations Claims to the United Nations/World Court of Human Rights" (See Reparations Resource Guide)
UPR Lobby Delegation to Washington DC: February 2020 Casa San José made it possible for us to send a delegation to Washington DC to bring the messages about human rights conditions in our region to embassy representatives advising their governments about the upcoming UN human rights assessment of the United States. Most of our delegation were young people, including two high school students from Casa San José. Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Hill District Consensus Group, Pgh for CEDAW, and the Peoples Campaign for Reparations and Black Self-Determination also sent representatives. The delegates we met were keenly interested in learning about conditions on the ground, and they were also excited to learn of our work to organize nationally around the UPR process. We put forward suggestions for recommendations we hope they will emphasize in the US report, which we can then use as tools for our advocacy.
Next Steps: Pittsburgh Joins National Lobby Days
The 2019-2020 United Nations Review of the United States human rights record provides an important opportunity for us to build support for more people-centered national and local policies. Organizers in Pittsburgh and in cities and communities across the U.S. have submitted our report to the UN on the human rights challenges faced by cities around the country. Our next step is to send delegations of grassroots human rights defenders to lobby UN officials in New York, Washington DC, and Geneva to bring our human rights priorities and recommendations into the official proceedings of the US Universal Periodic Review. We need you to help support this delegation with your donation!
Please help us build on the powerful work of grassroots human rights activists and help us show the international community that despite the actions of the Trump Administration, US residents believe in human rights and are working hard to “bring them home!” We know from past work that grassroots organizers can have a powerful impact on the thinking of international officials, and the experience of seeing the United Nations in action can help our movements develop creative ideas for using these mechanisms to build power. Please make a contribution to support Pittsburgh’s delegation. Working together, we can amplify our voices in the global conversation about how we can improve human rights conditions for more of the world’s people.
- Coalition to U.N.: Human rights in Pittsburgh are lagging for people of color, people with low incomes Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 15 October, 2019
- Pittsburgh files human rights report to the UN & Passes City Zero Evictions Day Proclamation -Pittsburgh activist groups and city leaders are submitting a report on local human rights conditions to the United Nations, centering the problem of racial inequities and its impacts on residents' right to adequate housing. Without secure and safe housing, no other rights can be realized.
- Immigration rights are human rights, speakers at Downtown forum say Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 6, 2019. Coverage of our UPR Cities Roundtable on the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees in the Pittsburgh Region.
NEWS: Cross-City and Global Initiative for Human Rights Cities
- Corporate Influence Threatens Human Rights in Communities Nationwide Common Dreams October 28, 2019
- Bringing Human Rights Home: New Strategies for Local Organizing Open Global Rights, By Jackie Smith & Joshua Cooper-U.S. Human Rights Cities Alliance, August 1, 2018.
- For more details see the UPR Cities Initiative.