NGO Contribution United States

Joshua Cooper, coordinator of the US Human Rights Network, a coalition of several hundreds NGOs active in the US, believes civil society should start working between 12 and 18 months before the exam and should continue during the years following the UPR, that is during the follow-up phase when the State should implement the recommendations.

Although the United States have ratifies only three international Conventions (ICCPR, CAT, ICERD), civil society's action can be based on different international Human Rights texts such as:

  • the UDHR because the Human Rights Council's mandate is based on this document 
  • international humanitarian law (Geneva Conventions) because the US has a strong military presence  all over the world.


Civil society has started working on the UPR between July and november of 2009.

Creation of an NGO coalition. Many organiyations have been contacted for this purpose. A committee has been set up and important discussions have enabled to establish a list of 25 priorities. Because of the size of the country, consultation has often been carried out by phone or video conference.

Drafting a summary. During one meeting in November, the 25 priorities (which included civil rights, economic responsibility, native peoples, environment, migrants' rights, housing rights, political prisoners etc.) have been condensed in a very short document of less than two pages. Meanwhile, many specific reports of 5-10 pages have been drafted for the HCHR. One of the most interesting aspects of this phase has been the creation of a wide civil society  network where an incredible number of actors have been able to communicate and coordinate in order to better point out the indivisibility of Human Rights within the proposed recommendations.

Cooperation with the government. The new government has launched a series of consultations with civil society in twelve cities. The authorities have only listened to the people's issues without promising any actions to tackle problems.

Organizing a press conference. This has been done in April 2010 in the symbolic city of Philadelphia (historically very important for the American revolution) upon the deadline for the submission of civil society contributions for the HCHR summary.

The project « Testify! » has been an initiative through which people could send in amatorial short videos. This has enabled many Americans to denounce cases of injustice which have been posted on YouTube.

In August 2010, four months after the NGOs' mobilization, the government has submitted the its own report. Civil society has reacted to this with a press release criticizing the weal points of the national report. There have  been parallel events at the UN in Geneva during the Human Rights Council session, a marathon of meetings with diplomatic missions, some more meetinngs with diplomats at the UN in New York and in Washington.

Actions by the network during the UPR session

Lobbying delegates:

  • Distributing summary reports on prioritiy issues by the NGOs to the diplomats.  
  • Choice of the best delegations to be contacted for each issue.

Organization of parallel events. It's important to plan these events to be held between 1pm and 3pm in order to attract a large audience.

Participation to events organized by the US in Geneva and Washington.


The network wants to work mainly with the media in order to spread knowledge of the UPR and its recommendations in the USA, so that recommendations may be implemented.

The examples of the action by MBDHP and by the American NGOs coalition show the importance of joint action by national civil society organizations in order to increase the power of the NGO's recommendations. Meanwhile, it is necessary to start to work several months before the UPR, so that actions may be well organized and recommendations chosen according to which are most important.