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Testify! Project - Universal Period Review of the U.S.
The first comprehensive review of the U.S. human rights record on an international stage took place in late 2010. On November 5th the U.S. underwent a new process known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In August 2010, the U.S. government had provided its official human rights report. During the UPR process, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) questioned the U.S. about its human rights record and proceeded to give the government over 200 recommendations it should follow to fulfill its human rights obligations within the country. This "peer-review" process occurs every four years and involves all 192-member states of the UN. The UPR is significant because no other universal mechanism of this kind exists, making the UPR a key tool to remind member states of their responsibility to fully respect and implement human rights principles and commitments. The ultimate goal of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation globally with real progress felt by individuals and communities on the ground.
In preparation for this review, our allies, the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN), which consists of over 300 prominent human rights organizations and community groups, launched the UPR Project and implemented three main campaign strands. First, human rights organizations from across the U.S. came together to write a series of reports that spotlight the shortcomings of the country's human rights protections and practices. USHRN then produced a summary report detailing the glaring inadequacies in the United States' human rights record. Second, throughout the past year, members of civil society met with U.S. government officials to ensure the on-the-ground perspective was heard and incorporated into the review as well as met with UN HRC members to inform their questions and recommendations. Finally, USHRN launched the Testify! Project to understand how individuals and communities in the U.S. experience human rights violations, and to amplify voices and broaden grassroots engagement with international human rights advocacy. This project collected video testimony from individuals across the country that shared their stories of human rights abuse and proposed solutions in the lead-up to the UPR. Watch videos submitted to the Testify! Project »
The USHRN-UPR Geneva Coordinator, Joshua Cooper gives a summary of the UPR process and reactions to the November 5th review
The following are four key recommendations from the UN HRC:
- Adopt and implement a National Plan of Action on racial discrimination;
- Establish an accredited National Human Rights Commission to protect our basic human rights;
- Recognize and honor economic, social and cultural rights as basic human rights;
- Sign and ratify key international and regional agreements.
- March 2011: The U.S. issued its final response to the UN HRC's recommendations.
- December 10, 2010: In celebration of International Human Rights Day the compilation video Testify! Voice for Human Rights in America will released and published online on this day.
- November 9, 2010: The U.N. HRC issued a set of over 200 recommendations for the U.S. to bring its human rights policies and practices in line with international standards and the U.S. delegation then issued its initial response.
- November 5, 2010: The U.S. government underwent the first-ever UPR of its human rights record before the U.N. HRC in Geneva, Switzerland. Watch webcast of the review »
- November 1–4, 2010: U.S. civil society activists and advocates held a series of side events in the lead up the U.S.' first UPR, including the screening of a series of films that highlighted the many challenges the country faces. To watch video highlights of the week's events see the six-part series sent from Geneva by Eric Tars with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty:
- August 23, 2010: The U.S. government submitted its first-ever Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC).