Urban Justice Urban Justice Center individual rights - social change

Human rights standards provide an avenue of response to social injustice when national, state, and local laws and processes fail. The Human Rights Project attempts to situate domestic poverty and discrimination issues within a human rights framework. While international human rights groups abound, we are one of only a handful of organizations in the United States working to analyze domestic social policy in this manner.

Our work represents a unique and creative attempt to push for a higher standard of government accountability than U.S. legislation typically allows. For example, the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a host of international treaties articulate the right to basic necessities such as food, housing, health, and employment. However, U.S. safety net programs and laws do not clearly acknowledge these rights, and often circumvent or disregard them.

The Human Rights Project works to:

  • Educate local legislators, media, and the public about our government’s role in advancing or restricting human rights.
  • Equip advocates with human rights tools, models and networks.
  • Inspire positive action and collaboration.
  • Develop and share models for using human rights to demand higher standards of government accountability at local and national levels.

News and Events

New York City Council Human Rights Report Card Released

The Human Rights Project is pleased to announce the release of our sixth annual New York City Council Human Rights Report Card. The Report Card is a tool for education and for action, designed to advance the use of a human rights framework in policy evaluation and advocacy. It also measures the commitment of the New York City Council to promoting human rights in our city.

The Report Card is available in its entirety for a suggested donation of $10. Upon ordering, you will receive free access to a digital version of the Report Card along with your hard copies. To order the Report Card and to receive the password to access the electronic version, please click below to make a donation:

Once you have the password, click here to download the Report Card. The minimum contribution accepted via this link is $5. If you would like a copy of the Report Card but have extenuating circumstances, feel free to contact nbramstedt@urbanjustice.org.

To preserve the integrity of the Council Watch project, we do not accept financial contributions from individuals affiliated with the New York City Council or New York City government. If you are either and would like access to the Report Card, please contact nbramstedt@urbanjustice.org.

To peek inside the Report Card, please click on the following links:

Read coverage in the press:

PDF "NY Councilmen earn top scores on human rights," NY Daily News, March 25, 2014

PDF "Human Rights Project releases report card on City Council," AM New York, March 25, 2014

PDF "And the city council's champion for human rights is ...," Labor Press, March 27, 2014

PDF "NYC human rights report card grades council members," Amsterdam News, March 30, 2014

2014 Human Rights Institute

The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, in partnership with the US Human Rights Network, is pleased to announce the ninth annual Human Rights Institute, to be held April 2-4, 2014 in New York City.

For more information, check out the new Human Rights Institute page.

Discussion on the Future of NYC Council

On the evening of Monday, December 2nd, the Human Rights Project (HRP) along with Common Cause/NY and New York Law School/Center for New York City Law, held a roundtable at New York Law School with six New York City Council members -Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Annabel Palma, James Vacca, and Mark Weprin – on the future of the City Council. The roundtable, moderated by Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and Christina Greer, Fordham University Professor, featured an in-depth discussion on the Council's rules and operations going forward, touching on topics including discretionary funds, the progression of legislation, the roles of Council, working with Mayor Elect DeBlasio, and the incoming 21 Council members. HRP Director Shani Jamila provided opening and concluding remarks. A video of the event is available at CitylandNYC.org. Audio of the event may be accessed here.

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