Video: UPR Process and International Mechanisms: Holding the U.S. Accountable for Human Rights Violations

On December 8, 2020, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee organized a webinar on the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process and efforts to use international mechanisms to hold the U.S. accountable for human rights violations.

The webinar featured National Lawyers Guild members who have worked to bring urgent human rights violations in the United States to international attention through the UPR process. The UPR is a unique process through which the human rights record of a country is reviewed by other United Nations member States. Countries are reviewed every 4-5 years. The member States then make recommendations to the country under review, which the country should in theory accept and implement. The United States was reviewed on November 9, 2020.

Speakers included:

Kerry McLean, NLG IC Steering Committee member and Africa Subcommittee Chair, serves as the International Mechanisms Consultant for the US Human Rights Network and was previously the USHRN’s Women’s Rights Working Group Co-Chair. She coordinates all aspects of the UPR advocacy process and oversees the USHRN’s work with the Inter-American Commission and work with other UN mechanisms.

Martha Schmidt, NLG IC Steering Committee Member, worked with the National Lawyers Guild, IADL, People’s Action Institute and Rights and Democracy Institute to submit a report on “The Right to Health: How Financing Affects the Right to Health Care in the U.S. ” The relationship between privately financed, commodified health care and the highest number of global deaths from SARS-CoV-2 has been exposed.

Joel Kupferman, Chair of the NLG Environmental Justice Committee, serves as executive director of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. He worked to raise environmental justice issues with several other NLG members, including Natali Segovia and Kurt Thornbladh, at the UPR.

Jeanne Mirer, NLG IC Co-Chair and President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, worked with the National Lawyers Guild and the IADL to submit a report, “United States’ failure to put into place effective measures to ensure the right to vote.” The circumstances surrounding this year’s election highlight the urgency of this matter.

Helpful links: 

US Human Rights Network UPR2020 Website:

UN Web TV video of the UPR:

Download the Right to Health report:

Download the Voting Rights report:

Environmental Human Rights materials:

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