The Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School in conjunction with IAOHRA, under the auspices of the Human Rights at Home Campaign,  have created the following materials to support state and local engagement with the human rights framework. 

September 16, 2014

Using Human Rights Assessments in Local Governance: A Toolkit for State and Local Human Rights and Human Relations Commissions is a guide to using human rights tools to evaluate the human rights impacts of local policy, and enhance local decision-making.

The Toolkit

  • describes how five jurisdictions are already using these tools;
  • includes the complete text of equity and human rights assessments tools;
  • and discusses the value-added of a rights based approach to local governance.

The Toolkit offers guidance on how human rights and equity assessments can help to identify policies that perpetuate inequality and to mitigate disparities, as well as ensuring that policies and programs reach intended beneficiaries effectively. It describes the core components of human rights assessment and the concrete outcomes that result from their use.

1.  Resource For Implementing Human Rights in Your Jurisdiction:

a. Domestic Violence Awareness Month, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Your Agency (October 2012)

b. UPR Toolkit for State and Local Human Rights Commissions. (updated May 7, 2012)

c. Bringing Human Rights Home:  How State and Local Governments Can Use Human Rights to Advance Local Policy (February 2013)

2.  The 2009 State and Local Human Rights Agencies Report.

3.   Risa Kaufman, Human Rights Institute -Powerpoint Presentation "Advancing Opportunity and Equality Through Human Rights" (2010 IAOHRA Annual Conference)

4.   2009-2010 Letters to IAOHRA members

a.   November 2009 letter-Celebrating Human Rights Day

b.   January 2010-Using the Human Rights Framework        

c.   February 2010--Celebrating Black History Month and Using CERD

d.   March 2010-Celebrating Women’s History Month with International Human Rights

e.   April 2010-Environmental Rights are Human Rights

f.   June 2010-Outreach Letter on Human Rights Treaty Reporting

g.   August 2010-Promoting and Protecting Communities Vulnerable to Discrimination Based on Race or National Origin.

  5. Communications between the State Department and IAOHRA regarding Treaty Reporting

a. Letter from Harold Koh to State and Local Commissions

b. IAOHRA President, Leon Russell's response to Harold Koh  

6. Human Rights at Home: A domestic Policy Blueprint for the New Admistration

7. Human Rights at Home Campaign State and Local Subcommittee Fact Sheet     



At the 2010 Annual Conference, IAOHRA’s membership adopted Resolution #1, committing to “utilize Human Rights Day, December 10, 2010, to promote human rights in its local community” through activities “intended to raise awareness of the UDHR and encourage residents to take action to support its principles.” The resolution can be found here.

Below are examples of ways that IAOHRA members’ efforts influenced Human Rights Day celebrations throughout the country in 2009.  The range of activities demonstrates the myriad ways in which your community can recognize this historic day and celebrate local efforts to promote human rights


  • The Mayor of Evansville, Indiana signed a Proclamation designating December 10th as Human Rights Day.   
  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued a Human Rights Day Proclamation, 
    pledging county government support for the principles recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
  • The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts signed a Human Rights Day Proclamation 
  • The Mayor of Tacoma, Washington signed a Human Rights Day Proclamation on behalf of the City Council.   
  • The Governor of Washington State signed a Human Rights Day Proclamation
  • The Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska issued a Proclamation in recognition of Human Rights Day. 


  • Chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination wrote an Op-Ed highlighting the history of Human Rights Day and the increasing number of state and local human rights initiatives.
  • The Executive Director of the Nashville, Tennessee Metro Human Relations Commission authored an Op-Ed describing the role of the U.S. in drafting the Universal Declaration and discussing the Commissions’ recent human rights work. 
  • The Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights, published an Op-Ed describing the nation’s continuing struggle for achievement of human rights.


  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights held a community event discussing the impact of public policies on different racial groups and communities
  • The Seattle Human Rights Commission and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights co-sponsored a community event focusing on women’s human rights.


  • The King County Office of Civil Rights sent an email to employees, recognizing Human Right Day connecting its Equity and Social Justice Initiative to the UDHR. 
  • The Anchorage Alaska Equal Rights Commission sent an email to city employees and partners recognizing December 10th as Human Rights Day.