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Over the past decade, U.S. social justice advocates have increasingly recognized that international and regional human rights mechanisms are important avenues for seeking human rights accountability. A broad and diverse range of advocates have mobilized, in particular, around United Nations human rights reviews, including treaty compliance reviews, Special Rapporteur visits to the United States, and the U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review process, increasing visibility of numerous domestic human rights concerns.

A smaller number of advocates and social justice groups have engaged with the Americas’ regional human rights system, the Inter-American Human Rights System, which offers additional and complementary tools to seek redress for human rights violations.

Both the U.N. and the Inter-American System offer unique and valuable opportunities for advancing human rights protections in the United States. They are governed by mutually reinforcing standards and the recommendations and findings of human rights experts within each system build upon each other. By using these systems in a complementary and strategic way, advocates can develop a more complete record of human rights conditions in the United States, turn international attention on issues of concern and ultimately influence domestic decision-making.