2019 Steering Committee Nominations

Interested in helping shape the future of human rights education? Then consider nominating yourself or a colleague to join HRE USA’s Steering Committee. 

Our rules call for the election every summer of new Steering Committee members to replace retiring members. This year there are 2 open seats to be filled, and we invite all members to make nominations for their replacements. You may nominate anyone who fits the criteria for membership and can fulfill the responsibilities of Steering Committee members, including nominating yourself!

Brief biographies of current Steering Committee members can be viewed here. A ballot will be sent to all HRE USA members in July.

Elected Steering Committee members will serve a three-year term beginning in August 2019.

DEADLINE: TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2019

>> Learn more
>> Nomination Form

For further inquiries, please contact Emily Farell

UPR Webinar – Why should I internationalize my issue?

EVENT DETAILS: 

When: Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Where: Online Webinar
Time:  3:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM PT 
Cost: Free and open to the public

Please register for the call here.

The U.S. Human Rights Network is hosting an introductory webinar on how to use the Universal Periodic Review to amplify your issue and advocate for justice. The webinar will answer the questions:

  • “How can I hold the government accountable for its flagrant violations of human rights?”
  • “How does the human rights framework relate to my issue?”
  • “Why should I internationalize my issue?”
  • “Why should I engage with the United Nations?”
  • “What is the Universal Periodic Review?”
  • “How can I get involved with the Universal Periodic Review?”

USHRN Deputy Director Salimah Hankins and independent expert Joshua Cooper will offer an introduction to the human rights framework, international mechanisms, and the Universal Periodic Review. 

This webinar is the first in a series of six webinars from July through September on the Universal Periodic Review. Each webinar will become gradually more specific and technical, aimed at assisting NGOs and activists with drafting their own stakeholder reports for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United States. 

The July 10th webinar is open to the public including non-members. 

Click to watch a short video of Malcolm X discussing the value of the
human rights framework and the internationalization of issues.

“There are many of our people who are thinking more deeply and more broadly, and are beginning to see the importance of lifting [our issues] out of the national or domestic context, beyond the jurisdiction of the United States government. The only way this can be done is by internationalizing the problem and putting it at a level where it can be taken into the United Nations. Then, all of the other independent nations on this earth can involve themselves in our struggle and support us.” – Malcom X

Click here to view information about the call on the USHRN calendar.
 

Hold the US Accountable to its Human Rights Obligations

Hold the US Accountable to its Human Rights Obligations   
Join HRE USA and the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) in holding the US accountable to its human rights obligations. 

In May 2020, the United States will undergo a “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR) of its domestic human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council. The UPR is an exciting and tangible advocacy opportunity for US-based NGOs to engage the UN on strengthening human rights in the United States.

The UN UPR Working Group will review the United States in April-May 2020. The deadline for the US government to submit a report is February 2020. The current administration did not elect to submit a mid-term report, which was due this month. To date,  four US-based NGO stakeholders submitted mid-term reports to the UN, including Human Rights Educators USA.

The UPR is all about accessibility. Advocates of all experience levels, backgrounds, and interests can participate and influence this process. Ideally, the results of your consultation will be shared with the UN via a brief “shadow report.”

Final stakeholder “shadow” reports by NGOs and Indigenous Peoples on the human rights records of the US are due on October 3, 2019, ahead of the country’s May review in Geneva. There are several ways you can the USHRN UPR effort:Apply to join the USHRN-facilitated UPR Taskforce.Apply to join the USHRN UPR and/or International Mechanisms listservs to receive periodic updates.Participate in the UPR Cities Project, a new initiative of the USHRN member-led Human Rights Cities Alliance.If you would like to join the UPR Taskforce or Listservs, or if you would like more information on how to participate in the UPR, please contact Roberto Borrero, International Mechanisms Director at: rborrero@ushrnetwork.org.    

Take Action on the Rights of the Child – Call Your Mayor

Although the US has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), there are a number of cities that have supported its provision. The CRC is important to safeguard children’s rights to safety, to well-being, and to remain with their families.

This June there will be US Conference of Mayors to be held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The conference provides a great opportunity for all of us to defend and promote the rights of children in our country.

HRE USA urges everyone to reach out to their Mayor’s Office by calling and/or emailing to: 

  • Find out if your Mayor will be attending the conference to be held in Honolulu, Hawaii from June 28-July 1, 2019
  • Urge your Mayor to raise his/her support for the CRC city resolution passed in their city as a model for other mayors. 

Check here to see if your Mayor is registered to attend.

It might take several attempts to reach the Mayor’s Office, but we all know that change does not come easily. Whether you succeeded or failed in getting an answer, please let HRE USA know. 

To get involved and join the working group, please contact Benil Mostafa

>> Learn more about HRE USA CRC Campaign

2019 Steering Committee Nominations

Interested in helping shape the future of human rights education? Then consider nominating yourself or a colleague to join HRE USA’s Steering Committee. 

Our rules call for the election every summer of new Steering Committee members to replace retiring members. This year there are 2 open seats to be filled, and we invite all members to make nominations for their replacements. You may nominate anyone who fits the criteria for membership and can fulfill the responsibilities of Steering Committee members, including nominating yourself!

Brief biographies of current Steering Committee members can be viewed here. A ballot will be sent to all HRE USA members in July.

Elected Steering Committee members will serve a three-year term beginning in August 2019.

DEADLINE: TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2019

>> Learn more
>> Nomination Form

For further inquiries, please contact Emily Farell

HRE USA Advocates for Migrant Rights in the U.S.

By Carina D’Urso, ARTE Intern in collaboration with Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario, HRE USA Co-Chair and ARTE Executive Director 

Over the last few months, HRE USA has been focusing on immigration and the detention of children at the United States – Mexico border. In February, a representative from HRE USA joined the action coordinated by the US Human Rights Network to deliver 80,000 petition signatures to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling upon the United Nations to launch an “investigation into US violations of the human rights of asylum seekers.” At the beginning of this month, HRE USA continued this work, through an event organized by HRE USA Regional Representative, Michelle Chouinard, entitled, “Immigration, Detention, & Resistance Through Art.”

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HRE USA held the event on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in collaboration with Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE), the Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy Concentration at SIPA at Columbia University, and the Human Rights Working Group.  It was a  lively night of art creation and human rights advocacy. The walls of the room were lined by work curated by Pastor Isaac Scott, an artist and the program director of The Confined Arts and Columbia University Justice-in-Education Scholar. As individuals reflected upon the themes of justice and narrative, guests were encouraged to contribute to a collaborative collage. Participants used moving imagery and text to create messages of resistance and solidarity.

The night was completed with a panel discussion which highlighted the voices of a passionate group of human rights activists, artists, and academics. Through moderation by Khalil A. Cumberbatch, the chief strategist of New Yorkers United for Justice, they welcomed the audience into their conversation of justice, creating a universal call for social change.

IMG_7239Panelists: (left to right): Khalil A. Cumberbatch (moderator), Tsion Gurmu, Geraldine Downey, Angy Rivera, Pastor Isaac Scott, and Ximena Ospina

Surrounded by art, the panelists highlighted the connection between art and activism. Ximena Ospina, trans activist and founder of the undocumented student group at Columbia University, pinpointed that art is about disruption. She passionately spoke for art that promotes a version of storytelling that is owned and amplified by the teller. This art is individualistic and active, radiating into the world unapologetically. Simultaneously, she claimed art as a demand for justice, rather than a humble request to be seen.

Angy Rivera, co-executive director at New York State Youth Leadership Council, praised art that exists on the margins. Rivera emphasized that art does not need to yearn for the acceptance of the mainstream in order to thrive. She identified that assimilation into whiteness is both unnecessary and counterproductive. After her community of undocumented artists struggled to find spaces that would accept their voices, they vowed to create their own spaces. With strength of purpose and a great commitment to justice, Rivera fosters art that is unconstrained and liberated, one that welcomes the authentic stories of individuals.

Tsion Gurmu, the legal director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and the founder and director of the Queer Black immigrant project encompasses the journey towards justice through her work. She calls for solutions that are based on a transnational approach to migration. She reaches into the foundation of this issue in order to unearth the root issue of forced migration. Gurmu desires an international transformation in the laws and policies that force individuals to flee their homes in the first place. The United States should not simply be a responder to crisis, but rather an active and solution-seeking partner for those outside of the country.

Professor Geraldine Downey, the director of the Columbia University Center for Justice, strives to use her work to intertwine art and criminal justice. She is actively working to bring Columbia into prisons in order to serve incarcerated communities. Through the lens of art, she believes people can discover all that they are capable of. She was moved by one woman who found her vocation in creating coloring books. After making them for her own child, she spread her creativity to other children. It is stories such as this one which resonant perpetually, capturing the humanity of those who are incarcerated.

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Pastor Isaac Scott tirelessly works to unearth the dehumanization of human beings who are incarcerated. Through the significance of linguistics, it is difficult to find a single positive word that has the same power as a negative word. Names serve as powerful identifiers, just as signs in a space to communicate rules and facts to people. In this way, language can be warped into a tool for incarceration. Through his research at Columbia University, Scott discovered that words such as “prisoner” and “criminal” have quantitatively negative impacts on those who they refer to. They are knives that cut into the humanity of individuals, leaving them wounded and scarred. They create an unjust association with being innately and entirely flawed. As Scott keenly described, these words do not give identity to anyone.

Together, the panelists called for the re-humanizing of language in order to revitalize humanity and in order to shift our perspectives towards the needs of the marginalized, while embracing their voices in their entirety. Oral history, especially when it is intertwined with the visual arts, allows for choice and agency. By deeply understanding the complexity of storytelling, we may better understand those who share their narratives.

HRE USA was able to continue to take action on immigration beyond the event by co-signing onto a public comment submitted to the United States Commission on Civil Rights regarding immigration detention centers and treatment of immigrants. The public comment can be viewed here.

Join HRE USA Campaign on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is turning 30 this year.  The CRC is the most comprehensive human rights treaty on children’s rights and notably the most widely ratified treaty since its introduction 30 years ago. The treaty has been ratified by every country with one notable exception — the United States, which has never even sent it to the Senate for consent and approval. 

While there is no good reason for the United States not to ratify the CRC, there are several reasons why we urgently need it. Ratifying the convention is not just about saving face in the international community — it will require us to confront some hard truths about the exceptionally bad way we treat children in this country, work to bring our laws and practices in line with international law, and ensure that children’s rights are human rights. 

In honor of the upcoming 30th Anniversary of the CRC, HRE USA is galvanizing support to not only work towards the ultimate goal of U.S. ratification of the CRC, but also, to partner with individuals, organizations, institutions, and communities to achieve the short-term goal of the endorsement of the CRC at state, local, and school district levels. Overall we hope the campaign will increase awareness of the importance of the CRC and how the U.S. falls short in fulfilling the rights of the child. 

To get involved and join the working group, please contact Benil Mostafa