The Project

The Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs) aims to monitor, analyze, and share information on initiatives that misuse religion, culture, and tradition to undermine the universality of human rights.

Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent, and inalienable to every person in the world.

Yet, today conservative actors are targeting the systems established to protect our human rights. These actors use arguments based on extreme interpretations of religion, culture, and tradition, along with rhetoric linked to state sovereignty to roll back fundamental rights — particularly women’s rights and gender justice— and to justify state impunity.

Our Goal

The Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs) is a collaborative project that aims to monitor, analyze, share information and do collaborative advocacy on these anti-rights initiatives threatening international and regional human rights systems. Grounded in a feminist framework, the OURs initiative works across regions, issues, and human rights spaces towards the advancement of social justice.

I Am Free - International Women's Day 2015, New York UN Women/Ryan Brown (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Our Mission

Our mission is to counter the influence of actors who seek to undermine universality in international human rights systems. We aim to strengthen the work of activists facing direct challenges to rights, especially rights related to gender and sexuality.

To this end, we monitor and analyze the methods and outcomes of anti-rights efforts in international spaces, and share this information with allies.

This web platform shares a collection of resources, news, and events with activists to better advocate for the protection of universality across international human rights systems worldwide.

Our Story

With increasing frequency and coordination, key human rights standards are being eroded by conservative actors, who use arguments referencing religion, culture, and tradition and state sovereignty. In 2011, we came together as a group of activists and organizations deeply troubled by this phenomenon.

It was clear to all of us that a collaborative response was needed to stem this erosion of human rights, especially rights related to gender and sexuality. We needed to unite our efforts to ensure that human rights systems remain a space for the protection, fulfillment, and advancement of rights for all. Out of this the OURs initiative was formed and launched in 2015.