• The UNIS Human Rights Project is an initiative at the United Nations International School (UNIS) that integrates the values of human dignity, equality and justice into teaching and learning. The program is a collaboration between UNIS and over sixty NYC schools, human rights, theatre, cultural and media organizations. The yearlong program is free to all New York City high school students and equips them with the skills to use photography, art and storytelling to advocate for human rights. Throughout the summer holiday and school year, students investigate, document, organize, educate others about local human rights issues and advocate for policy changes.



    In an intensive summer institute, participants use New York City as their classroom to investigate one specific human rights issue. They meet with activists, lawyers, academics and policy experts from a variety of human rights organizations and hear the personal stories of those who have been most affected by social injustices.


    Students train with documentary filmmakers, photographers and photojournalists. They learn how to use photojournalism to document and raise awareness of human rights violations. They record and transcribe all of the stories and interviews and create a photo exhibit, magazine, documentary or devised theatre piece. The exhibits are created in collaboration with PROOF: Media for Social Justice and are displayed in high schools, universities, photo festivals and at various locations throughout the country.


    In the final component of the project, students organize events to raise awareness of the issue and take action to change unjust policies. UNIS hosts an annual public symposium featuring student work, presentations, workshops, guest speakers and a devised theatre performance. New Yorkers interviewed by the students come to the symposium to see their photos, view their stories being performed and share with the audience. Throughout the school year, students volunteer with local organizations working to change laws and policies.

  • Collaboration

    The UNIS Human Rights Project is made possible through collaboration with exceptional social justice organizations and the support of forward-thinking foundations.

    Since 2014, students have advocated for human rights in areas of segregation, mass incarceration, immigration, health disparities, police brutality, climate justice, housing, LGBTQ+ and workers rights.


    We are grateful for support from the following organizations.

    • AIRnyc

    • Ali Forney Center

    • American Friends Service Committee

    • Ancient Song Doula Services

    • Anti-Violence Project

    • Arab American Association of New York

    • ARTE

    • Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association

    • Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)

    • Brennan Center for Justice

    • Brooklyn Community Bail Fund

    • Brotherhood Sister-Sol

    • Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA)

    • Catholic Migration Services

    • Center for Constitutional Rights

    • Citizens Committee for Children of NYC

    • Coalition for the Homeless

    • Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

    • Designing the WE

    • El Puente Leaders for Peace and Justice

    • Edward E. Ford Foundation

    • Fair Housing Justice Center

    • Families for Freedom

    • Fortune Society

    • Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE)

    • Good Shepherd Services

    • Grameen VidaSana

    • Guns Down, Life Up

    • Health Equity Initiative

    • Hour Children

    • Indy Kids

    • Just Leadership USA

    • Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center

    • NAICA Community Center

    • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

    • New Sanctuary Coalition of New York

    • New York Civil Liberties Union

    • NYC Coalition to Dismantle Racism in the Health System

    • New York Immigration Coalition

    • New York State Youth Leadership Council

    • Osborne Association

    • Picture the Homeless

    • Planned Parenthood

    • Police Reform Organizing Project

    • Proof: Media for Social Justice

    • Queensbridge 696 Cure Violence Program

    • Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

    • Right to Council NYC Coalition

    • Safe Passage Project

    • Social Justice Tours

    • Street Vendors Project

    • Teaching Tolerance

    • Teens Take Charge

    • UPROSE

    • Vera Institute of Justice

    • WE ACT for Environmental Justice

    • Witness to Mass Incarceration

    • Workers Justice Project

    • Youth First Initiative

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