blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
Our delegation had the distinct pleasure in meeting with Erin Markham and Shani Jamilla, the Director of the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center. The Urban Justice Center serves and represents New York City’s most vulnerable populations, including the homeless, poverty stricken, people of color, immigrants and an array of other New Yorkers susceptible to neglect, abuse, and discrimination.
The Human Rights Project (HRP) is one of Urban Justice Center’s ten autonomous projects. The project strives to improve the lives of New Yorkers by advocating for the application of universal human rights standards in government policies within New York City Council – the legislative body responsible for approving NYC’s annual budget, overseeing city agencies, and most notably making and passing laws that govern the City of New York.
The Human Rights Project publishes an annual New York City Council Human Rights Report Card, which evaluates and grades each of the Council’s 51 representatives on the basis of their relative support of bills that have a human rights impact. HRP particularly focuses on legislation aimed at curtailing income inequality and poverty, gender disparities, and racial discrimination.
HRP strives to increase governmental transparency and encourage voters to examine their council member’s report card in order to make informed decisions and urge their representative to support bills which have the potential to improve the conditions of millions New Yorkers. HRP particularly examines council member’s involvement in worker’s rights, housing rights, criminal and juvenile justice, disability rights, health, government accountability, and voting rights.
HRP also monitors and documents the power of the Speaker and the Mayor of New York City in regards to the passage of impactful bills. Legislation that could fundamentally improve the lives of NYC’s most disadvantaged people but does not have the support of the Speaker or the Mayor has a substantially lower rate of passage.
The Human Rights Project of the Urban Justice Center has done extensive work to educate New Yorkers with a human rights framework and to call for action. Their publications have captured the attention of the media, constituents, the councilmen and women being evaluated by HRP, and GYC in NYC participants! One day, we hope to see an expansion of political liability beyond city and state lines.