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About

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.

Our Mission

The Task Force works to promote robust and effective U.S. participation at the Human Rights Council, and to improve the effectiveness of the Council. The Task Force also encourages constructive U.S. engagement through other UN human rights bodies to promote the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, American values and human rights interests, as well as progress toward a more just and peaceful world.

Some of the Task Force's activities have included:

  • Preparing media statements, and other public communications on critical international human rights issues;
  • Meeting with and preparing letters to the Administration, Members of Congress, and the UN on issues requiring U.S. attention and action;
  • Convening round table meetings and panel discussions with expert speakers for the benefit of the wider human rights community and the public;
  • Issuing policy papers;
  • Recognizing individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievement and commitment to the promotion of human rights through the annual Leo Nevas Human Rights award.

Members of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force

Felice Gaer (Chair), Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

Diego Arria, former Permanent Representative of Venezuela and President of the Security Council

Kirk Boyd, Boalt Hall School of Law at University of California, Berkeley

Joshua Cooper, University of Hawaii

A. Edward Elmendorf, World Bank

Toby Gati, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Mark P. Lagon, Georgetown University

Lawrence Moss, City University of New York

Susan Myers, UN Foundation

Suzanne Nossel, PEN America Center

Robert Rifkind, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Nancy Rubin, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights

William vanden Heuvel, Allen and Company (former U.S. Ambassador)

Joanna Weschler, Security Council Report

The Leo Nevas Program on Human Rights was established by UNA-USA based on the shared belief that human rights should be an essential component of U.S. foreign policy and that UNA should reflect this belief in the policies it advocates for the U.S. at the UN. The founding Chair of the Task Force was 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 among professionals working in these fields. Since the death of Mr. Nevas in 2009, the Task Force has continued to carry out its advocacy work.

Statements of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force

Letter from Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs to Felice Gaer, Chair of the Leo Nevas Task Force

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.

Letter from the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force to the Obama Administration on the U.S.’s Re-election to the Human Rights Council

April 30, 2012

On behalf of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force of UNA-USA, Felice Gaer wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to congratulate the entire Obama Administration on it successes at the UN Human Rights Council and to encourage the Administration to invest sufficient resources to ensure election to a second term on the Council. The Task Force is convinced that active participation of the U.S. in the Council has in fact changed the dynamics within that body to make it a more credible and effective institution, and has also advanced U.S. national interests and helped to restore the U.S.’s reputation as a global leader in human rights.

 

Statement: Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force of UNA-USA Speaks Out Against Reported Assassination Plot against Asma Jahangir

June 8, 2012

Following reports of a plot against the life of former UN Special Rapporteur and prominent human rights advocate Asma Jahangir, Leo Nevas Task Force Chair Felice Gaer issued the following statement on behalf of the Task Force. Click here to read the full statement.

Statement of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force on the Occasion of Human Rights Day 2011
December 10, 2011

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force (LNTF) of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) recalls and reaffirms the hopes that have been raised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 63 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly. Click here to read the full statement.

Statement of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force to Congress on "The US Government's Relationship with the UN Human Rights Council"
October 25, 2011

The Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force of UNA-USA has found that active U.S. participation in the UN Human Rights Council has met with real achievements including addressing egregious country situations, establishing investigatory mechanisms, protecting universality of rights, and breaking new ground. The Task Force also identified political shortcomings of the Council that require deepening U.S. engagement in the UN body. The Task Force submitted its statement urging greater support from Congress and the American people to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress prior to a Congressional hearing on October 25 on the relationship of the U.S. with the UN Human Rights Council. A proposed UN Reform bill would require the U.S to cut all funding for the Council and prohibit it from running for reelection.

Statement of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force on the Human Rights Situation in Libya
March 2, 2011

The Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) commends the recent actions taken by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UN Security Council, and the UN General Assembly to condemn and punish violations of human rights against the Libyan people by the Libyan government. Click here to read the full statement.
 
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