In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the foundational document of the modern human rights system. Since then, the United States has provided global leadership on many human rights issues. But its embrace of the rights enshrined in the UDHR has been partial and selective.

The ACLU Human Rights Program (HRP) is specifically dedicated to holding the U.S. government accountable to universal human rights principles and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. HRP is part of a reemerging movement of U.S.-based organizations that use the international human rights framework in domestic rights advocacy.

To this end, HRP conducts human rights research, documentation, and public education, and it engages in advocacy and litigation before U.S. courts and international bodies, including the United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms (such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights).

By invoking international human rights norms and strategies, the ACLU has been able to make advances where concerns had previously been dismissed by the courts. Having adopted an integrative approach to human rights advocacy that incorporates human rights documentation, international advocacy, and coalition building, in ad­dition to utilizing domestic litigation and legisla­tive strategies, HRP is strengthening ACLU work to advance human rights in the United States.