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US National Human Rights Cities Alliance

About About the US Human Rights Cities Alliance The U.S. Human Rights Cities Alliance works to build a network of local, national, and international human rights leaders and to support activists and organizers advancing the human rights city organizing framework. The Alliance promotes the development and sharing of knowledge and models for improving respect for human rights and dignity. Recognizing that human rights don’t trickle down, they rise up, we support communities organizing and acting together to bring human rights to bear at home, drawing upon global human rights standards, institutions, and movements. Guided by the Human Rights Cities Statement of Principles, we promote “people-centered human rights” based in experiences and struggles of marginalized communities.


Resources for starting a Human Rights City initiative near you


  • The African Diaspora Convenes on the World Stage & Calls for Reparatory Justice--Reports from the Inaugural session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. Thursday January 19, 6:30PM (EST) (Click here to register)
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). The PFPAD will develop a global Declaration on the Rights of People of African Descent and define steps to improve the lived experiences of African descended people around the world through improved implementation of international commitments to end racism and all forms of discrimination. Delegate Justin Hansford calls this Forum a potential "instrument of liberation" that requires grassroots communities to “dream big” and engage with this global process to find creative and concrete ways to address ongoing harms of colonialism, genocide, and slavery. Over 900 civil society representatives attended the first PFPAD meeting in Geneva, which generated promising ideas for transformative change. Advocates who attended PFPAD will share their observations and offer ideas for how this new body can be a tool for building local and national movements to end white supremacy and advance racial justice. (Click here to register) 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

Past Event recordings

  • Recording: Using the Human Rights Framework for Racial Justice: A Conversation with Justin Hansford*--Recorded Friday November 18, 2022/University of Pittsburgh by 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 (Ferguson to Geneva: Using the Human Rights Framework to Push Forward a Vision for Racial Justice in the United States). This conversation brings together Black community leaders, advocates, and educators to discuss this effort and understand how Professor Hansford sees the law as a tool for social transformation. Justin Hansford is Professor of Law at Howard University, Executive Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, and representative to the new United Nations Permanent Forum of People of African Descent (UNPFPAD). Hansford is a co-author of the forthcoming Seventh Edition of Race, Racism and American Law, and his legal scholarship informs his work to win a posthumous pardon for Marcus Garvey ("Black History Matters: Why President Obama Should Pardon Marcus Garvey," The Root). Professor Hansford’s visit to Pittsburgh is part of a “listening tour” he is making in preparation for the inaugural meeting of the UNPFPAD in early December. Panelists: Dr. Rashad Williams, Assistant Professor of Race and Social Justice in Public Policy, University of Pittsburgh; 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 and University of Pittsburgh World History Center Community Fellow

Current Projects

Cities Support the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent-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.

CERD Cities 2022: Using International Law to Advance Racial Justice in our Cities In August 2022, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) examined the U.S. record of compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD or CERD). This review saw unprecedented mobilization from U.S. civil society, and their work contributed to a powerful document that can help us call on governments at city and state levels to bring their practices in line with international expectations and obligations. Our work ahead will help "bring CERD home" to our cities and help residents and public officials learn about this important global process.

City Shadow Reports & Related documentation

Past Activities

2022 Convening--Organizing for the US Review by Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (hybrid) Using global human rights to strengthen anti-racism organizing and resist ongoing retrenchment of democracy and human rights July 19-21, 2022, Washington DC/ hybrid. Co-Sponsor & Host: Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, Howard University School of Law, Washington DC

"Bringing Human Rights Home: U.S. Cities & the UPR--Thursday March 11, 2021 4:00PM CET (Geneva)/ 10:00AM EST (NYC) 46th UN Human Rights Council Side Event--Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Adoption of Final Report on the USA' US Human Rights Cities Alliance

U.S. communities aren’t waiting for human rights leadership from Washington: they’re using UPR recommendations to hold local governments accountable to global human rights standards. Community organizers share how they’re using global human rights to change the United States and how international leadership can support this work. Panelists: Jennifer Harbury - Angry Tias & Abuelas - Weslaco, TX (Rio Grande Valley); anu jain, Executive Director, City of Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission; Sharon Lavigne - RISE St.James, St. James, Louisiana, Cancer Alley; Vincenzo Pasquantonio - Founding ED of Human Rights Commision, New Orleans; Randall Taylor –Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition & Stop the Station, Pittsburgh; Lorena Quiroz - Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity, Jackson, MS; Patricio Rubio-Another Gulf is Possible- Rio Grande Valley, TX; Vickie Casanova Willis – US Human Rights Network; Gabriela Zavala - Resource Center Matamoros - TX/Mexico

View recording here Download flier

Zero Evictions Days 2020

  • October 24-November 5: Learn about how global real estate investors are raising rents and pushing out urban residents around the world--: View the Film- Push online.
  • Thursday October 29 7:00pm Webinar Part 1: Building a Global Movement to Protect the Right to Housing--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 view recording here.
  • Thursday November 5 7:00PM –Webinar Part 2: Movement building for the Human Right to Housing: Local organizers from Philadelphia, Atlanta and Pittsburgh discuss ideas for building a powerful cross-city movement for the human right to housing and an end to evictions. Zoom meeting link For more details and speakers see: Zero Evictions Days 2020

Recent Work

Recordings of past webinars

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. View Recording Flier

  • NEW: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Calls for Greater Coordination with Local Governments & Civil Society. In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights clarifies the important role of local governments in the implementation of international human rights standards, providing reports and recommendations for actions by local and national governments. Many of these recommendations complement the work we are doing in the Human Rights Cities movement and the UPR Cities project. Download Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Local Government and Human Rights

We work to realize human rights by:

  • Engaging, connecting and mobilizing communities, Peoples, workers, and diverse sectors across issue areas, constituencies, and regions to uphold and defend human rights and hold government accountable;
  • Building the capacity and leadership of grassroots groups and individuals to effectively apply the human rights framework in developing strategy and making long-term structural shifts to achieve justice;
  • Raising the visibility of local human rights concerns and activism to shape the public discourse locally, nationally, and internationally; and
  • Facilitating effective collective action to secure the structural change needed to fully realize human rights.

The US Human Rights Network is guided by these core principles:

  • Human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible, and inalienable.
  • Human rights movements must be led by those most directly affected by human rights violations.
  • Human rights advocacy and organizing should prioritize the struggles of the poor and most marginalized groups in society.
  • Human rights movements must be inclusive and respect and reflect the diversity within communities.
  • Human rights encompass civil, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, sexual, and development rights for individuals, Peoples, and groups.

For a more elaborated version see our: Statement of Principles.

UPR Cities Project and Toolkit

International Human Rights Monitoring

This page links to work by national and international human rights organizers to use international treaties and United Nations human rights review processes to hold local and national officials in the United States accountable to our international human rights obligations.

Housing is a Human Right!

Educational and Outreach Tools

Reports and Documentation