Women and people of color in the United States face persistent discrimination and human rights abuses. The Human Rights Institute (HRI) uses human rights–based approaches to combat racial and gender discrimination. We partner with advocates and governments at the federal, state, and local levels to put equity and participation at the center of decision-making.

Despite laws that prohibit discrimination based on race and gender, the existing U.S. domestic legal framework has failed to foster equality and deliver justice. Federal and local laws narrowly define discrimination, and available remedies fail to address systemic marginalization and discrimination. 

HRI’s work seeks to advance dignity, equality, and well-being regardless of identity, and to promote government accountability when violations occur. We provide technical assistance to local governments seeking to promote and protect human rights, work with UN experts to expose gaps in rights’ protections, and engage in strategic litigation. 

Our work to bring human rights home in the United States includes:

  • International and federal advocacy: HRI partners with lawyers and grassroots organizations to challenge policies that harm rightsholders, including migrants and immigrants, individuals living in poverty, and youth involved in the criminal legal system. We do advocacy at the United Nations, in the U.S. Congress, and in regional and domestic courts. 

  • Grassroots capacity building: HRI designs resources and convenings to promote awareness of advocacy strategies, legal developments, and pathways to racial and gender justice.

  • Technical assistance to local governments: We work closely with state and local human rights agencies to develop expertise on strategies to respond to structural discrimination and assess local compliance with human rights norms, as well as to secure federal resources and support for human rights monitoring.