Above: UNA Georgetown leaders discuss the importance of pursuing SOGI-based Human Rights in the upcoming UPR of the USA with a representative from Lesotho.
On March 27, dozens of advocates and diplomats, including UNA-USA members, convened together just steps away from UN Headquarters in New York to help inform the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States, scheduled for May 2015. While the UPR, a UN Human Rights Council mechanism that assesses the human rights records of all 193 UN member states every four years, will occur in Geneva human rights advocates in the U.S. have several opportunities for impacting the process.
Representatives from the GenUN network and UNA Westchester, Georgetown, and Queens chapters gave oral presentations at the UPR event, co-organized by the US Human Rights Network and Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute. The UNA-USA presentations focused on LGBT rights, human trafficking, and gender equity in the United States, and were based on the findings and recommendations of UNA-USA’s first-ever UPR stakeholder report, submitted to the UN Human Rights Office in Summer 2014.
Among several constructive recommendations to advance the human rights record of the United States, three UNA-USA presenters—Marcia Brewster, Jonathan Dromgoole, and Kathy Moran—called for:
- Prioritizing the ratification of CEDAW; and
- Greater emphasis on protecting the rights of LGBT youth, including combatting bullying and homelessness;
- The need for better data to identify and combat human trafficking as well as universal laws to ensure victims are not treated as criminals.
During the event there was also an opportunity for activists to engage directly with representatives from UN missions who are charged with offering specific recommendations to the U.S. during its UPR review. GenUN advocates like Jonathan Dromgoole and Rachel Brooks from UNA Georgetown provided written and oral summaries of UNA-USA’s recommendations to delegates from Lesotho and Canada, among others.
Following the event, the UNA-USA delegation presented the UNA-USA UPR report at the U.S. Mission to the UN. The report was compiled following a six-month consultation process including five chapter events in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Phoenix. More than 100 advocates participated in the process, which ultimately included input from UNA members spanning from the nation’s capital to Hawaii.