Tag Archives: human rights

Human Rights Day, Seventy Years On

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This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The Declaration, and the commitment of UN Member States to affirm and implement its principles, has resulted in the dignity of people uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid in the treaty regime built upon the Declaration. It is both an aspirational, visionary document and a set of standards that permeates international law.

The Declaration articulates a vision that has been built upon and used to extend rights and protect people around the globe. In a world where exploitation and violation are so strong, we can be grateful for the many ways in which the Declaration has had an impact. Its successes are many.

At the same time, violations of international law and human dignity are perpetrated in many countries. In a report released on Friday, a team of experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council noted that:

Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.

The report expressed concern that an “upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia seen in countries of asylum, at a time of rising forced-migration” is “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”

UN News notes that :In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, the UN is urging people everywhere to “Stand Up for Human Rights”.

One way to do that is to  choose a place in the world where human rights are abused (including in the United States of America) and become informed. Take one action today that affirms and celebrates the worth and dignity and rights of others.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Death Penalty, Human Rights, United Nations

Walk for Congo with CongoSwim

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGIn conjunction with Orange Days to end violence against women and girls, CongoSwim brings together Presbyterians and people of good will to witness and raise funds to

In solidarity with the Walk for Congo in Oakland, CA, I will walk 5k (a little over 3 miles) with family members in Cleveland Heights August 23rd. If you are in town and would like to walk with us, let me know. In support of my participation, please consider the below ways to support groups working for lasting peace and an end to violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  1. Pray.  Lift up all families and leaders in Congo.
  2. Advocate. One of the top requests from community leaders in Congo is for the full implementation of an existing US law regarding how the US extends military aid within the region. Click HERE to order a postcard to mail to Secretary of State Kerry.  The postcards have already helped create a change in the way the U.S. officials have chosen recent policy for Congo. Details about the US law are in the 30 minute documentary Crisis in the Congo which you can watch on the VIDEOS page.
  3. Donate. Click the ‘Donate’ button below to give what you can.  You may specify my name as the participant you are supporting.  Details about the groups we are raising funds for are on the Who We Support page.  Thank you!

DONATE

If you prefer to give by check, make it payable to Friends of the Congo and put CongoSwim and my name in the memo line.  Mail your check  to:

Friends of the Congo
1629 K St., NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
 
See you along the Trail
 

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Japanese-American Remembrance Day

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which set in motion the forced evacuation and incarceration of many thousands of loyal United States citizens solely by reason of their Japanese ancestry.

I have read about the internment of Japanese-Americans. I have seen films and videos. I look forward to Allegiance: A New American Musical.

Yet as Japanese-American Remembrance Day draws to a close, I am reminded that nothing carries the power of speaking with people who experienced internment.

I give thanks for the grace and courage of the Rev. Dan Ogata, Alice Nishi, and Dave Sugiuchi who shared their stories with me. I give thanks for the grace and courage of the people I never met who endured imprisonment in their own land.

I pray my memories will move me to honor the ideals on which the United States is founded and to work for human rights for all people.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights

Enforce the law!

Call on President Obama to enforce U.S. legislation related to the use of children as soldiers!

The U.S. Child Soldier Prevention Act addresses the issue of children in situations of armed conflict. The act seeks encourage governments to disarm, demobilize and rehabilitate children who have been used as soldiers by government forces and government-supported militias.

Using the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights as a barometer, this bill would place limits on the provision of U.S. International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing and other defense-related assistance in our foreign operations programs for countries in violation of the bill’s standards.

However, this act has been waived in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). President Obama could take steps to prohibit military assistance to the DRC until the government meets specific benchmarks.  These benchmarks should include: 1) demonstrating that it no longer recruits child soldiers; 2) showing concrete progress in demobilizing or releasing children from existing forces; and 3)engaging in credible efforts to render persons suspected of recruiting child soldiers to justice.

Call on President Obama to enforce U.S. legislation related to the use of children as soldiers!

I did. Will you?

See you along the Trail.

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Commission on the Status of Women

 

 Between 2,000 and 4,000 women. And a few men.

Those will be my companions for the next two weeks.

Within that group, my circle will likely focus on 40 or so Presbyterians and some of our ecumenical partners..

The 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (“CSW” or “the Commission”) begins on Monday, February 27.

For Presbyterian participants things started last night with an orientation at the Church of the Covenant.

The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Comprised of representatives of 45 UN Member States, the Commission gathers every year at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.

There are a number of places to follow the CSW including Swords into Plowshares where I blog for my work with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Watch the plenary sessions of the Commission on UN Webcast.

Other sources of information include:

This morning we will take part in an orientation with our partners in Ecumenical Women.

Thanks to Grace Bickers who volunteers at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for the picture.

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Filed under Human Rights, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

I signed. Will you?

The international movement to end the death penalty grows. I signed a petition this morning from the World Coalition against the Death Penalty.

Amnesty International notes that in 2010 (the last year for which they have published records):

23 countries carried out executions and 67 imposed death sentences in 2010. Methods of execution in 2010 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

Amnesty’s report “Death Sentences and Executions 2010” notes:

REPORTED EXECUTIONS IN 2010
Bahrain (1), Bangladesh (9+), Belarus (2), Botswana (1), China (1000s), Egypt (4), Equatorial Guinea (4), Iran
(252+), Iraq (1+), Japan (2), Libya (18+), Malaysia (1+), North Korea (60+), the Palestinian Authority (5),
Saudi Arabia (27+), Singapore (+), Somalia (8+), Sudan (6+), Syria (17+), Taiwan (4), United States of
America (46), Viet Nam (+), Yemen (53+).

The petition from the World Coalition against the Death Penalty states:

139 nations have already abolished the death penalty. In December 2012, the United Nations’ General Assembly will vote on a resolution calling for a worldwide halt to its use.

We, the undersigned, in recognition of the five million people who signed the moratorium petition that was handed to the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2007, promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with Amnesty International and other organizations all over the world, renew the call for a worldwide moratorium on sentences and executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty worldwide in the belief that this penalty is inhumane:

* Whatever the method of execution, there is no humane way to kill
* Whatever the country, death row is inhumane
* Whatever the length, awaiting death dehumanizes people sentenced to death

We welcome the strong progress already made towards a global end to capital punishment and acknowledge that 139 nations have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

For the 4th vote of the United Nations General Assembly on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, to be held in December 2012, we, the undersigned, call on all countries to support the resolution and all those which retain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use, with a view to abolishing this inhumane practice altogether!

I signed. Will you?

See you along the Trail.

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Nine years of resistance

Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon went to President Calderón of Mexico on behalf of Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo.

For more than nine years, these two courageous women have taken on the military and authorities to demand justice after soldiers raped them in 2002. Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo are Indigenous Me’phaa (Tlapaneca) women. Amnesty International notes that:

Indigenous women in Mexico who are raped rarely file a complaint due to cultural, economic and social barriers. Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo have shown courage in reporting their ordeals and have followed up their cases in national and international courts. The women and their families have faced threats as their battle for justice continues.

Guided by Amnesty International’s sample letter, I urge President Calderón to ensure a swift, full and impartial investigation into the rape Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú. This investigation should take place in civilian courts as should all cases of human rights violations by military personnel.

Sign up to participate in the Write-a-thon.

Find resources for the Write-a-thon, including sample letters to adapt.

Learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights framework.

See you along the Trail.

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