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Universal Declaration of Human Rights @ 70 December 10th, 2018
December 10th is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the United Nations is leading world leaders and the international community in celebrating the adoption of these set of principles (30 in all) that were established to safeguard the inherent dignity of every human being.
Among the many activities taking place around the world, the Alliance Defending Freedom International will deliver thousands of signatures from more than 170 countries in support of The Geneva Statement, which urges the international community to uphold the fundamental right to life, family, and religious freedom, as recognized by the declaration. The Geneva Statement calls for new commitments from the international community.
The United Nations was founded in the aftermath of WWII in 1945. Some of the principal objectives for founding the organization as outlined in the preamble of the UN Charter were; “to prevent the occurrence of future atrocities by affirming faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small and the commitment to promote better standard of life in larger freedom.” These fundamental human rights are all captured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10th December 1948. This day is observed every year as the International Human Rights Day.
The human rights doctrine is also influenced by tenets of Catholic Social Teaching – in the basic concept of human dignity. The Declaration has many phrases from Catholic Social in the documents. Some of examples are outlined in a 2001 book, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon. This book is widely considered one of the definitive histories of the human rights document. While Catholic ideas can be found in the document, author Mary Ann Glendon notes that it is just “one of many sources of influence on this impressively multicultural document.”
Still relevant today as they were in 1948, the UN Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into 513 languages, making it the most translated document in history.
Video: History of the UDHR: https://bit.ly/2B9wnX2
Short articles on each of the 30 Articles of the UDHR: https://bit.ly/2BFvDpg
Read more at UN News: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1027981
70 years of progress on Human Rights: https://www.humanrights70.org/#home
By Christopher Cox, Human Thread Campaign
Two weeks ago, Frank Sherman and I participated in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) Program Strategy Week. The Program Directors met with their Work groups in NYC to evaluate the progress over the past year and chart out a path forward for the 2018-19 corporate engagement season. This article will summarize the human rights/human trafficking session.
Estimates indicate that 27 million victims fall prey to trafficking and slavery each year and that it is a global trade valued at $32 billion dollars. But due to the clandestine nature of these crimes and the reluctance of victims to speak out because they live in fear of physical retribution and/or deportation, trafficking and slavery are typically very difficult to uncover and prosecute. Through the Human Rights/Human Trafficking (HR/HT) Work Group, ICCR members ask the companies they hold to adopt human rights policies that formally recognize human trafficking and slavery and to train their personnel and their suppliers to safeguard against these risks throughout their supply chains. Human rights provides an umbrella for all ICCR efforts.
The day prior to our session, the Alliance met as well. It will take some time to define action that corresponds to IAHR or to the HR/HT work group as both groups are concerned with issues that overlap. The Alliance has three components: Human rights responsibilities of investors, collective action, and multi-stakeholder engagement.
- Promotes implementation of human rights due diligence by companies
- Encourages the creation of enabling environment for responsible business conduct through awareness raising, standard setting, and regulatory development – states, multi-lateral institutions, the UN, development banks and, of course, investors
- Encourages engaged companies to develop and strengthen activities and process to provide remedy
- Builds partnerships with business community, NGOs, trade unions, local communities and others to leverage this work
It seems likely that the IAHR will focus, this year, on Banking and Tech sectors as it relates to salient human rights issues. Again, it will take some time to develop the necessary coordination between the efforts of IAHR and ICCR working groups.
Read the rest of the article at Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investing’s website.
Sri Lanka Priests and Religious to UN Body: Adopt International Mechanisms to Address Human Rights Crimes October 6th, 2015
One hundred seventy priests and Religious from North and East of Sri Lanka recently urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt international mechanisms that address the gravity of crimes committed, especially committed in the last phase of war in Sri Lanka. Writing to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, priests and Religious said; “Since the end of the armed conflict many of the structural causes of the conflict remain intact.” The letter was endorsed and signed by several Missionary Oblates and other Catholic priests and religious.
o Read the letter here: Sri Lanka Priests and Religious to UN body.
Meanwhile Church and human rights activists in Sri Lanka have applauded a resolution the UN Human Rights Council (forty-seven member nation body) approved in Geneva on October 1, that would allow foreign judges and prosecutors to help Sri Lanka try people accused of serious crimes during and after the civil war. The U.N resolution calls for punishment of those responsible for war crimes. It also paves the way for accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
The Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Rev. R. Canagasabey, today rejected as false, allegations against one of his priests – human rights defender Fr. M. Sathivel – by a mob led by right-wing Buddhist monks (Bodu Bala Sena) which invaded the Oblate-run Center for Society and Religion on August 4. Issuing a statement, the Bishop said,”I do not in any way condone such action against a peaceful gathering and as his Bishop affirm that Rev. M. Sathivel is a long standing and a credible Priest of the Diocese of Colombo with over 25 years of parish and community work with a justice and peace consciousness.”
Read the full statement as a PDF: Bishop of Colombo statement rejecting false allegations against Fr Sathivel-18Aug2014
Learn more about the Centre for Society and Religion, Sri Lanka
Angry Mob Invades Assembly of Families of Disappeared at Oblate Center in Sri Lanka August 12th, 2014
On the afternoon of August 4th, a group of Buddhist monks with a large number of civilians and media personnel forced their way into a meeting being hosted by the Oblate Centre for Peace and Justice in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The mob was intent on disrupting a meeting of families of the disappeared that were meeting in the place to tell their stories to an assembled group of priests, nuns, human rights activists, and representatives of civil society organizations as well as of diplomatic missions. The aim of the meeting was to pinpoint methods and strategies for helping the families of missing people locate their loved ones. The center, which is currently led by Oblate priest, Fr. Ashok Stephen, has been helping civil war victims for years.
Despite repeated requests from the organizers and the diplomatic corp present, the police failed to disperse the mob, but suggested rather that the meeting be disbanded and representatives from both parties attend an inquiry at the police station. Fr. Ashok Stephen, OMI, Director of the CPJ, filed a complaint of criminal trespass against the one Buddhist whose name he was able to determine, but does not think anything will come of it. The families present, which included children, were frightened but the mob, which shouted abuse and took photographs of those present.
Statements on the incident from Fr Ashok Stephen, OMI and Fr Rohan Silva, OMI are available on the website of the Colombo Province.
The Conference of Major Religious Superiors of Sri Lanka have also issued a statement condemning the incident. (Download PDF here)
California Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional July 20th, 2014
On July 16, a federal judge in California ruled that the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional, based on the lengthy delays involved in executions. The Judge ruled that the “arbitrariness” and “unpredictability” with which the death penalty is carried out violates the constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment.
Faith groups and Organizations supporting abolition of death penalty are now starting to assess all the implications of this ruling. The decision is not likely to lead to immediate changes regarding the death penalty in California, as there have been no executions there since 2006. If the State appeals though, the question of whether, and when, problems with a state’s death penalty system can render it unconstitutional will then be decided by a federal appeals court in San Francisco. A ruling from that court (the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals) in favor of this recent opinion would affect the death penalty in states throughout the west.
The OMI JPIC office will share with you the legal implications arising from this ruling on the death penalty in California, as well as action alerts from the California Catholic Bishops Conference.
The Bishops in California were strong supporters of Proposition 34 to end the use of the death penalty in California. Proposition 34 was defeated as a ballot initiative in 2012.
More information here: California Death Penalty Unconstitutional