Workshop: Human Rights Cities and Today’s Political Context

EVENT DETAILS: 

When: Friday, July 27, 2018
Time: 9-5 pm
Where: University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC
Cost: FREE

Conveners: National Human Rights Cities AllianceAmerican Friends Service Committee-DC Peace & Economic Justice, & Human rights on the Hill Institute

This day-long workshop convenes human rights activists, scholars, and policy practitioners to consider lessons learned from a growing global “human rights cities” movement. Participants will learn about global and national trends, opportunities, and challenges to “bringing human rights home” here in the United States.  This is a space for sustained dialogue to promote understanding of human rights cities/communities and to advance ideas and models for local human rights practice. Particular attention is paid to disparities in race, class, gender, and environmental health, and we will explore how people-centered human rights cities can help to addresses these structural injustices. Lessons from the workshop will shape the ongoing work of the National Human Rights Cities Alliance and its support for local human rights organizers and movements providing leadership and advocacy to secure, protect, and promote human rights for all people. See session summaries below.

Registration is free. Please RSVP to: Rachel Bergsieker, American Friends Service Committee DC Office (RBergsieker@afsc.org).

The National Human Rights Cities Alliance has placed 3 double rooms at the Kellogg Conference Hotel on hold for out-of-town guests. Should you wish to book accommodations at this venue, please include the number of beds requested with your RSVP.

The workshops will run from 9AM-5PM Friday July 27th. There will be an optional program the evening of Thursday July  26th for participants who can attend. More details TBA.

SESSION SUMMARIES

The Global Movement of Human Rights Cities
This panel provides an overview of the emerging global human rights cities movement. It offers perspectives from different world regions and insights into how UN human rights institutions can be resources for local human rights enforcers.
Human Rights Cities in the United States: Background & Highlights/Lessons
This panel shares accounts from several human rights cities, offering perspectives on different models of human rights cities and projects that help build local human rights coalitions.
Human Rights Cities Models and Campaigns
Continuing themes from the preceding panel, this session lifts up key struggles common to all cities and reflects on possibilities for mobilizing local human rights cities around alternative models for community emerging from various national and international campaigns.
Today’s Challenges: Trumpism, Corporate Power and Local Resistance
Why Cities? What possibilities exist for using human rights frameworks to mobilize resistance to to right-wing populism? Drawing from recent struggles around the rights of immigrant residents and to resist corporate-led local development such as that seen in cities vying to host Amazon’s 2nd headquarters, panelists reflect on the lessons and strategies needed to defend human rights amid current challenges.
Concluding Dialogue
Participants will engage in dialogue and Q&A around ideas that emerge in the workshop, including the following possible themes: Lessons from Human Rights Cities—Key models and initiatives; Identifying critical needs for US human rights advocates; Expanding international alliances and strategic use of international mechanisms.

Teach for Environmental Justice

At the heart of our environmental crisis is the idea that nature is a thing to be used for profit. That’s the bad news. The good news is that social movements across the world are challenging this profit-first orientation, and proposing alternatives. And educators are a part of these movements.

The Zinn Education Project (ZEP) has posted five teaching articles that grew out of a writing retreat sponsored by ZEP and This Changes Everything, the project launched by Naomi Klein’s brilliant book. These articles include role plays, stories of activism and resistance, and ideas for how to implement concepts from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate in our classrooms.

>> Learn more

HRE USA Statement on US Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council

HRE USA joins its partner organizations in their shared concern over the recent announcement that the US has withdrawn the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council.

HRE USA Statement on US Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council

Human Rights Educators USA is founded on the belief that human rights can only be achieved through an informed society that is aware of and makes a conscious commitment to the fundamental values of human rights and democracy. Those values include equality and fairness, being able to recognize problems such as racism, sexism, and other injustices as violations of those values, and the common responsibility to make human rights a reality for all.

Therefore, we are deeply disappointed in the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Despite its flaws, the Human Rights Council is still the premier intergovernmental body at the global level.Until now, the United States has played a vital role in its deliberations and it has been the principal means through which the U.S. wields its influence within the global human rights movement. By withdrawing, the Trump administration denies Americans their opportunity to fully engage with the rest of the world in the important work of advancing human rights at home and abroad. We urge the administration to reconsider its decision, or, failing that, release a statement reaffirming its commitment to honoring its international human rights obligations.

The decision to withdraw is both counterproductive to national security and foreign policy interests and also sends a dangerous message to the international community that the United States does not intend to collaborate with others in the international community to address current and future global human rights violations or uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it approaches its 70th anniversary this December.

As Human Rights Watch states, “by walking away, the US is turning its back not just on the UN, but on victims of human rights abuses around the world, including in Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Myanmar. Now other governments will have to redouble their efforts to ensure that the council addresses the world’s most serious human rights problems.”

Furthermore, this decision comes at a time when the United States itself is engaged in horrific human rights violations regarding the separation of migrant families at the border. Currently nearly 1,500 children are being held in a warehouse facility, as they await their futures with great uncertainty, separated from their loved ones. HRE USA condemns these blatant human rights violations.

Now, as ever, HRE USA remains committed to promoting human dignity, justice, and peace by cultivating an expansive, vibrant base of support for human rights education (HRE) within the United States and supporting educators in their efforts to equip students in becoming compassionate, aware, responsible and reflective citizens with respect for the essential rights of all.

Partner organizations who have also issued statements include:

Diverse Democracy Grants

Teaching Tolerance (TT) is funding projects that will help students become empowered voting advocates in their communities through their Diverse Democracy Grants.  TT will be offering awards of $500 to $10,000 to fund projects for educators helping their students to become lifelong voters and empowered voting advocates in their communities.

Available through August 31

>> Learn more

Women’s Rights Coming to a City Near You!

By Kate Kelly & JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute

A number of recent and exciting developments in the local implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have occurred over the past year.  There are now 9 ordinances in place, and 28 city, county and state governments have adopted CEDAW resolutions. There is also growing momentum of women’s rights movements around the country, including the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the ongoing work evidenced by women’s marches and other groups demanding accountability.

To  build upon this energy, and continue the momentum, the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights convened a CEDAW strategy session on the margins of the 2018 UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.  This meeting was a unique chance for advocates from around the country to collaborate, share lessons learned, and support each other in efforts to operationalize CEDAW at the local level. Representatives from CEDAW advocacy groups, local government, and academia, representing over 20 cities and counties were present, from Portland to Pittsburgh and Denver to Durham, and many places in between.

To ensure that advocates across the country can continue to raise awareness of what CEDAW entails and how it can be useful in the local context, the meeting conveners developed user-friendly materials that include a two-pager that distills the basic provisions of CEDAW, as well as a plain language guide to all of the General Recommendations from the CEDAW Committee, reflecting interpretations of the treaty.  These materials are available on the Cities for CEDAW website, along with more in-depth guidance for implementing CEDAW locally.

>> Learn more
>> Join the Cities for CEDAW Coalition

Curtis Scholarship

The 2018 Curtis Scholarship is an annual leadership development program to support youth ages 16-20 from underserved communities in the U.S. or U.K. who embody the values of global citizenship.  Curtis Scholars are be invited to join a 10 day learning trip to South Africa, and one advocacy trip to Global Citizen Week Events in NYC. Joined by members of the Global Citizen staff, Scholars will explore social issues, innovative international organizations and cultural sites with a focus on poverty alleviation in Global Citizen’s issue areas.

Application Deadline: May 20

Applicants can choose between submitting 2-3 minute videos or 500-700 word written responses to the two essay questions in the application. Applicants must  also submit a recommendation letter from a teacher/ professor, school administrator, community leader, or colleague to be considered for the Curtis Scholarship.

>> Learn more and apply