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US National 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


Human Rights Cities Webinar Series 2024 --The Human Rights Cities Alliance webinars provide insights, resources, and tools to support activists working to implement human rights in local communities.

Human Rights Cities Leadership Summit in Atlanta Georgia, May 18-21, 2023The Human Rights Cities Leadership Summit will take place in downtown Atlanta Georgia from May 18-21. Following the city’s recent passage of a resolution naming Atlanta the newest U.S. Human Rights City, Atlanta civil society and supportive City Council members invite community activists, policy practitioners, legal experts, youth, and municipal leaders to come together to share ideas, lessons, and tools for promoting human rights in cities and communities. Now more than ever, cities need innovative ideas and strategies to address problems of affordable housing, community safety, climate change, racial and gender inequities, and reparatory justice. Learn how cities around the world are using international human rights law and institutions to shape local policies, with powerful impacts at the local level. Plenaries and breakout sessions will provide opportunities to learn, exchange and network. (Register at

  • Featured plenary speakers include: Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and Global Director, The The Shift-#Right2Housing & Justin Hansford, Member of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University

Co-hosts: The Human Rights Cities Alliance, Southern Center for Human Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Friends Service Committee-South Region, in cooperation with Atlanta civil society and supportive members of Atlanta City Council.

Past Event Recordings & Documentation

  • 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. (Recording) 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
  • Using the Human Rights Framework for Racial Justice: A Conversation with Justin Hansford--(Recording-November 18, 2022 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 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

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- Using the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination to fight racism at home -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.

UPR Cities Project --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.

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

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