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The "Human Rights Community" Initiative

In 2015, the UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR) invited the Iowa City Human Rights Commission (ICHRC) to join in a partnership to build a “Human Rights Community” (HRC), a community governed by human rights principles and standards in community decision-making.

In Spring 2015, the ICHRC voted unanimously to accept this invitation and join in this endeavor. The partnership reflects a mutual pledge between the ICHRC and UICHR to jointly sponsor a community-wide process of education and discourse which, over time and guided by a common action agenda, would facilitate effective citizen engagement in promoting and protecting human rights throughout both the public and private sectors of Iowa City.

An HRC is a community in which municipal governance (and potentially related county governance) and private sector decision-making are guided by the human rights principles and standards set forth in the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and its companion treaty instruments (“covenants”) which together comprise “the International Bill of Human Rights.” It signals a commitment by local public authorities (city council, law enforcement, the judiciary, regulators, schools, the UI, etc.) and community leaders (businesses, labor unions, civic/social organizations, schools, faith- based institutions, etc.) to promote and protect the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of every person and social group within their jurisdictions. The goal is a community committed to human rights as a way of life. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once put it, “[w]hat we must offer is a vision of human rights that is foreign to no one and native to all.”

If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about this initiative, contact UICHR Assistant Director Amy Weismann (amy-weismann@uiowa.edu).