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New report looks at Seattle’s self-designation as a Human Rights City

By the Seattle Human Rights Commission

Fellows for the Seattle Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Claire Paiement, Hank Elmajian, Hannah Elzig, and Adam Aley spent the first six months of 2021 delving into the history, concept, and lived experience of human rights and human rights cities. Given Seattle’s self-designation as a Human Rights City on December 14th, 2012, via City Council Resolution 31420, the team analyzed how the City is doing on its journey.

The fellows released their final report in July 2021. In the report, the team presents the definitions of human rights, discusses the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, discusses the concept of a human rights city, provides examples of exemplary human rights cities, delves into an analysis of the City of Seattle, and provides recommendations.

The team recommends that the City should:

  1. Design and implement a human rights governance structure for City government;
  2. Join or create a human rights city network to learn from, contribute to, and be held independently accountable to;
  3. Strengthen its measures for ensuring internal accountability to human rights protection;
  4. Strengthen its mechanisms for the public to hold City government accountable;
  5. Humanize the experience of houselessness and the unhoused population;
  6. Institute measures for houselessness prevention and stability;
  7. Invest in buildings and building support; and
  8. Improve and revitalize current houselessness efforts.

“Resolutions are non-binding. However, their passage are signals of intent and aspirations. Based on this report, we know that Seattle has a long way to go in living up to this designation. We hope that this report provides the necessary focus and guidance needed for Seattle to do better by its citizens,” said SHRC Co-Chair Ty Grandison.

The full report, “Protecting Human Rights,” is available at .