Bringing Human Rights Home

Human Rights in the United States

PHRGE has extensive expertise on using human-rights tools and norms to implement human rights in the United States.

  • Professor Martha Davis has co-edited a three-volume series on domestic human rights, Bringing Human Rights Home: A History of Human Rights in the United States; filed amicus briefs asserting human rights norms in domestic cases; offered in trainings on human rights for advocates and legislators; and produced training materials for litigators. She has also been a prolific speaker on human rights in a domestic context.
  • PHRGE leads the Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers’ Network, a group of 800+ U.S. lawyers and advocates who work in partnership with impacted communities to advance social justice using a human-rights framework. The Network empowers activists by serving as a platform for collaboration, education, and networking. Join the Network!
  • PHRGE promotes the implementation of human-rights norms and standards in state and local law and policy. PHRGE’s methods include providing technical assistance to human-rights commissions, human-rights cities, and “welcoming” cities — and providing action-oriented research to advocates on topics such as the gender equity, immigrants’ rights, racial equity, and water rights.
  • PHRGE leverages international human-rights mechanisms to influence federal policy on issues such as housing rights, racial justice, and water rights.

Summer 2023 Co-op Opportunity for NUSL Students

  • PHRGE is seeking a work-study eligible sudent for a summer co-op. The focus of the co-op would be human-rights advocacy in the United States.
  • The co-op work involves (1) coordinating the Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers Network, a nationwide coalition of hundreds of advocates and academics devoted to promoting human rights in the United States; (2) providing substantive support to coalition members in preparing materials for UN submission and in seeking opportunities to promote human rights within the Biden administration; (3) interfacing with UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights issues of interest to U.S.-based activists; and (4) supporting our human-rights events. The work will focus on issued such as the following:  water rights; the right to housing; the economic, social, and cultural rights of immigrants; and women’s rights. This co-op is an excellent opportunity to make connections with human-rights advocates!
  • The co-op student will work with Professor Martha Davis and PHRGE Director, Elizabeth Ennen. The co-op position involves 35 hours/week; at least some of these hours will be on site. The work may involve some travel. The position is unpaid unless the student is eligible for work-study funding.

2022 CERD Review of the United States

  • Highlights

    "Tahoe on Trial: Guatemalan Communities Defend Land and Life"

    On October 26th, Llan Carlos Davila, a community leader from Santa Rosa de Lima in Guatemala spoke about efforts to peacefully halt the development of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine through popular education, grassroots base building and the organization of six municipal referenda during which more than 50,000 people have voted against mining in their territories. Llan Carlos also detailed the ongoing threats he and other leaders face due to their efforts to defend the results of the referenda and halt Tahoe’s expansion in the region. This event is part of a speaking tour organized by the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). For more information, see

    "Tapping into the Right to Water: Accessibility, Affordability, and Quality"

    On November 5-6, 2015, the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) hosted its 10th annual Human Rights Institute at Northeastern University School of Law. This year, PHRGE’s Institute convened scholars and advocates to explore how a human rights framework can be applied to water rights advocacy and implementation, with specific attention to accessibility, affordability and quality. The keynote speech, entitled, "Beyond Greens vs. The Poor: A Way Out of the U.S. Water Crisis", was delivered by Patricia Jones, Senior Program Leader on the Human Right to Water at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).


    "The Human Right to Water and Sanitation: Malmo's 'Sorgenfri' Roma Settlement and Beyond"

    On December 8, 2015, Faculty Co-Director Martha F. Davis will present a seminar at the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights, entitled "The Human Right to Water and Sanitation: Malmo's 'Sorgenfri' Roma Settlement and Beyond". She will speak about the eviction of a Roma settlement in Malmo on environmental grounds and offer comparisons to the human rights struggles centered around the right to water in the United States.