Leo Nevas Program on Human Rights
The Leo Nevas Program on Human Rights is a UNA initiative that engages all the organization's activities toward mobilizing existing and new resources to help the UN take a more effective role in human rights as well get the US involved more in the UN's efforts. The program aims to impact policy, educate UNA chapters and members, and foster new and innovative thinking that encourages constructive U.S. engagement through the UN's human rights bodies. It strives to promote the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as American values and human rights interests. Additionally, the program periodically updates Global Classroom's curriculum on human rights; recognizes individuals who are advancing human rights with an annual award; and brings together human rights NGOs to collaborate with UN officials and permanent representatives to the UN on ways to improve the operations of the Human Rights Council and other UN related activities.
The program is advised by the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force and supported by the work of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow. It is named for the late Leo Nevas, a longtime UNA-USA leader whose lifelong commitment to the work of the UN and the promotion of human rights was well-known and widely recognized.
"Leo Nevas showed us how to live a brave and compassionate life."
- Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, November 2013
The Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force
The UNA-USA Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force is an advisory group of distinguished citizens knowledgeable and vitally concerned about international human rights and the role of the UN and the U.S. in protecting those rights. Since its establishment in 2007, the Task Force has been active in urging the U.S. to seek membership on the UN Human Rights Council and, as a member, to appoint a knowledgeable ambassador to the Council so as to maximize U.S. engagement and leadership. Click here for more information about the Task Force and its members.
The Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow
The Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow supports the UNA-USA's advocacy agenda on human rights and the work of the Task Force. Click here for more information on the activity of the Human Rights Fellow.
The Leo Nevas Human Rights Award
This award was launched by The Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force in 2007 to honor its longest-serving board member Leo Nevas, a lawyer and human rights advocate. The award annually recognizes those who have served as agents of change in advancing international human rights. Past recipients include the Honorable Tom Lantos (presented posthumously) and Sheryl WuDunn for her book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide." Every year, UNA-USA also awards a Leo Nevas human rights youth advocate award, recognizing the work of a young person who has earned distinction for raising awareness of the UN and human rights mechanisms. Click here for more information on the past awardees.
In the News
Task Force U.S. Olympic Delegation: Prioritize Human Rights and Respect for Diversity in Sochi
February 6, 2014
In a letter addressed to head of the U.S. Presidential Winter Olympic Delegation to Sochi Secretary Janet Napolitano and other members of the U.S. Olympic delegation, the Task Force invited the group to prioritize a human rights message focused on diversity, tolerance, and universal values as well as the urgency of protecting the human rights of LGBT persons.
Task Force to UN: Keep Leading on LGBT Rights
February 4, 2014
Acknowledging the leadership of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in advancing LGBT rights, the Task Force invited the secretary-general to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in his February 2014 address to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Later at the launch of the Olympics in Sochi, the secretary general specifically referenced the need to protect LGBT human rights declaring, â€śWe must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex peopleâ€ť and that â€śHatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century.â€ť
Task Force to Senate: Confirm Key Human Rights Posts
January 30, 2014
In a bipartisan letter addressed to Senator Harry Reid and shared with other senators, the Task Force called for the Senate to move expeditiously to fill four key human rights posts, including the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council.
September 27, 2013
This week, UNA-USAâ€™s Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force wrote the following letter to President Obama concerning the situation in Syria.
Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force Submits Human Rights Council Recommendations to John Kerry
March 1, 2013
UNA-USAâ€™s Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force submitted recommendations to newly-appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding bold initiatives that the U.S. should pursue during its second term on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Task Force developed the recommendations at a workshop on Feb. 11, where members discussed recent Council developments and opportunities for U.S. leadership on the organization.
Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force of UNA-USA Applauds U.S. Reelection to Human Rights Council
November 30, 2012
Following the United States reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force issued the following statement.
November 13, 2012
Following yesterdayâ€™s announcement that the United States has won a second term to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)--elected with the most votes of any nation within the Western European and Others Group (WEOG)â€”Patrick Madden, Executive Director of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), issued the following statement.
November 13, 2012
In the wake of the U.S. reelection to the UN Human Rights Council, Ryan Kaminski, the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow, offers his analysis of how the Obama administration can take advantage of this election.
October 17, 2012
The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force awarded Paulo SĂ©rgio Pinheiro with the 2012 Leo Nevas Human Rights Award. Pinheiro, chair of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on alleged human rights violations in Syria, spoke to a large audience today about the challenges related to human rights that are currently facing the UN in Syria. The award is the highest honor of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Program, an initiative of UNA-USA that promotes human rights as an essential component of U.S. policy at the United Nations.
September 6, 2012
Felice Gaer, Chair, United Nations Association of the USAâ€™s (UNA-USA) Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force, and Ryan Kaminski, UNA-USA Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow, made the following statement following a briefing with U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council Amb. Eileen Donahoe. The Task Force, an advisory group of 13 distinguished citizens, established by UNA-USA in 2007, is vitally concerned about international human rights and the role of the UN and the U.S. in protecting those rights.
June 27, 2012
Deborah Brown, Leo Nevas Human Rights Fellow
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) opened its 20th session in Geneva last week, and in her opening statementto the HRC, U.S. Ambassador Eileen C. Donahoe outlined an ambitious list of U.S priorities for the three week session. The U.S. delegation will continue to work to build a broad coalition of support for freedom of expression online, press forward on country-specific mandates, and develop new thematic resolutions.
June 8, 2012
Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, wrote to Felice Gaer, Chair of the Leo Nevas Task Force of UNA-USA, in response to a letter to the Obama Administration regarding concerns about the U.S. reelection to the UN Human Rights Council. Dr. Brimmer affirms that the State Department is investing significant time and resources in its reelection bid to Council and recognizes the real progress achieved by U.S. engagement at the Council.
1. Human Rights Council Fact Sheet
2. OHCHR Fact Sheet
3. Human Rights Session from UNA-USA 2012 Annual Meeting with Felice Gaer and Scott Busby
4. Human Rights and the UN: A Conversation with Felice Gaer