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Update on UPR Advocacy - the role of Working Groups

Updated: Mar 10

2020 is a crucial year for human rights advocacy domestically and internationally. The United States’ human rights record will be reviewed as part of  the United Nations Universal Periodic Review this May. Together with our partners and the UPR Task Force, the US Human Rights Network Coordinating Center has been preparing for the review since Spring/Summer 2019, when we began our UPR Webinar Wednesday series and organizing issue area Working Groups to write stakeholder reports as part of the review process. If you have not been part of the UPR process to date, please visit www.upr2020.org for more information on the process and how you can get involved.


Below, please find an update on next steps in the advocacy process including Working Groups Coordination; Advocacy with Permanent Missions and Embassies; Preparation for the UPR in Geneva this May; and the UPR Webinar Wednesdays series.  Working Groups:

If you are interested in joining a Working Group to advocate ahead of the UPR in May, please view a list of active Working Groups here and email Nandi Wilkerson with the following information: your name, organizational affiliation, and which Working Group you would like to join and the specific issue you are interested to focus on. Please email Nandi at: coordinator@ushrnetwork.org


We are requesting that representatives from all Working Groups participate in the next UPR Webinar Wednesday #10 on March 4, 2020. Please register for the webinar here.  Working Groups are a crucial component of UPR advocacy. It is key that Working Groups are mobilized around the following three areas:


  • Conduct research to target your advocacy (i.e. figure out which countries are most likely to advocate for your issues - based on their past UPR recs or own policies and priorities -  so that you can reach out to them and provide information so that they ask good and/or hard questions of the U.S. government)

  • Create a 1-pager for your working group to give to the countries. This is to ensure your issues are being heard and accounted for, even if you're not going to Geneva. 

  • Contribute to a UPR side event/s during the Review in May. A  side event is essentially a short presentation where diplomats and other NGO's get to hear about your issue (very similar to how it would be if you advocated formally before a UN body or congressional briefing) and they have the opportunity to ask questions. We are very open and flexible regarding your ideas and look forward to hearing what kind of side event you would like to see happen.


If you are part of a Working Group and have not received an email from the Coordinating Center this month, please email Nandi Wilkerson: coordinator@ushrnetwork.org


Advocacy with Permanent Missions and Embassies:

USHRN partners at UNA-USA and the UN Foundation held consultations with Embassies and Permanent Missions in Washington, D.C. and New York this week. The consultations provided opportunities for 16 advocacy presentations to 9 Embassies in D.C., and 27 presentations to 2 Permanent Missions in New York.


The next phase of advocacy will take place during the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council. Various Network partners including the UPR Task Force, Advocates for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, the ACLU, UNA-USA, and Amnesty International will participate in the session and use it as an opportunity to meet with various UN member states representatives to advocate for a range of grassroots issues to be raised during the May Review of the United States’ human rights record. If remote attendance becomes available for these sessions and/or side events, we will provide the information on the UPR 2020 Resources page.


Preparation for UPR in Geneva (May)

The review of the United States will occur in May, 2020. The tentative date of the actual review is May 11, 2020. The US Human Rights Network is working with partners to organize a delegation, a side event, and contribute to a joint press conference during the review.

If you are planning to travel to Geneva for the review in May and have not yet filled out this form, please do so as soon as possible. If you will be in Geneva for the Review, please attend our next UPR Webinar Wednesday #10 on March 4 - click here to register for the webinar.

We will be providing information regarding dates, side events, hotel bookings, and other coordination details in the coming weeks.


UPR Webinar Wednesday Series

Our next UPR Webinar Wednesday will take place on March 4 at 2:00 PM ET. The webinar will focus on next steps for Working Group members in terms of advocacy with Embassies and Permanent Missions, as well as on what to expect from the Review in Geneva this May.

Please register here for the next webinar.


If you missed the past webinars, you can find information about them on www.upr2020.org/resources, plus all of the past webinar recordings are available for viewing on www.vimeo.com/ushrnetwork


UPR Cities Initiative

You don’t have to go to Geneva to do UPR work! We need you to maximize the UPR impact! Activists in the USHRN have been working to improve our ability to use the UN human rights tools, including the UPR, in our local organizing and movement-building work. The UPR Cities initiative is an effort to translate the UPR process for communities, engaging local activists and groups in carrying out local human rights assessments to shape the national UPR reports and to hold local officials accountable to the UPR recommendations.


The UPR Cities website provides webinar recordings and slides to help explain international treaties and the UPR process for local activists. This local complement to USHRN’s traditional work at UN headquarters is helping local communities make better use of the UPR recommendations and other human rights reports. We realize that while the international documents can help legitimize our claims and bring some top-down remedies, ultimately the work of building human rights governance will depend on building broad grassroots involvement in this work.

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