Human Rights at Home Campaign & State and Local Government Coordination
HRI advocates for greater coordination of federal, state and local efforts to promote and protect human rights within the United States. The Institute works directly with state and local agencies and officials to build their capacity to implement human rights by raising awareness of U.S. human rights obligations and developing strategies to incorporate human rights locally. HRI also advocates for institutionalized federal support for local efforts, including funding, education and training and dedicated staff.
As part of this work, HRI chairs the Human Rights at Home (HuRAH) Campaign’s State and Local Government Subcommittee, which brings state and local agencies and officials together with advocates to identify and amplify effective human rights strategies and to support the creation of institutionalized federal level mechanisms to support and encourage state and local implementation.
Mayors are increasingly recognizing how human rights can inform local efforts. In August 2014, Mayor Kitty Piercy emphasized the role of human rights in Crafting Innovative Anti-discrimination Policy Using Human Rights in the U.S. Mayor, highlighting initiatives related to the Race Convention and the Women's Convention in particular.
State and local legislatures are also recognizing the value of considering local issues through a human rights lens. For example, since 2011, a number of local jurisdictions have declared freedom from domestic violence as a human right. While they vary in scope and content, these resolutions highlight both the local and international aspects of domestic violence. Efforts are underway to leverage these resolutions into changes in law and policy in several jurisdictions.
Federal & International Engagement
HRI seeks to effect change through advocacy in domestic and United Nations fora, including treaty reviews and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. In these efforts, HRI has developed a strong partnership with the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA).
Drawing on extensive research and state and local government partnerships, HRI submitted a shadow report to the UN Human Rights Committee on the U.S. compliance with the ICCPR, discussing the federal government’s obligation to support and promote human rights implementation at the state and local level. The report's recommendations are reflected in the Committee's 2014 Concluding Observations. In July of 2014, the Institute submitted a similar shadow report to the UN Committee that oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The CERD Committee likewise emphasized the need for federal support for state and local human rights education and implementation. HRI is similarly engaging in the upcoming review of of U.S. compliance with the Convention Against Torture, via this shadow report. HRI will also advocate around the need for federal mechanisms to engage and support state and local actors during the second cycle of the UPR. HRI's recommendations can be found here.
On July 22, 2014, The Human Rights at Home Campaign's subcommittee on state and local government coordination, in conjunction with the mayoral and state and local agency signatories, sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of State Malinowski, applauding the inclusion of state and local representatives in U.S. delegations to the U.N. and offering several recommendations to strengthen human rights compliance at the state and local level, including dissemination of Concluding Observations from U.N. Treaty Bodies and more robust resources and support for state and local governments.
Resources for State & Local Governments
Under the auspices of HuRAH, HRI has released several reports on state and local human rights implementation.
A number of local governments are using human rights principles in local decision-making by employing human rights assessments. In August of 2014, HRI published Using Human Rights Assessments in Local Governance: A Toolkit for State and Local Human Rights and Human Relations Commissions, describing how these tools are used and the value-added of a rights-based approach to local governance.
In December 2012, HRI released Bringing Human Rights Home: How State and Local Government Can Use Human Rights to Advance Local Policy. This report, geared toward State and Local policymakers, details over a dozen ways that states, cities, and towns are integrating international human rights principles into local policy and highlights the benefits of a human rights approach. The report offers concrete recommendations to advance local policy using a human rights framework.
Building on the recommendations made during the U.S. UPR, in August of 2011 HRI published a Toolkit for IAOHRA members, detailing how state and local agencies can translate recommendations made to the United States during the UPR into local policy and practice.
In 2009 HRI released State and Local Human Rights Agencies: Recommendations for Advancing Opportunity and Equality through an International Human Rights Framework. Focused on the valuable role of state and local agencies in human rights implementations, this report details human rights standards and strategies and describes how a number of agencies are already using human rights and offers recommendations for advancing human rights here at home.