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New Resource: The Decade in Human Rights in Latin America, 2010-2020 January 15th, 2020

OMI JPIC partner Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has prepared an overview of several significant trends in human rights-related policies in the Americas over the last decade, with a focus on reflecting some of the thematic work of our research and advocacy efforts. The absence of certain issues or countries should not be interpreted as a commentary on its level of importance.

“The past decade saw both setbacks and important advances in the defense of human rights in the Americas. Unparalleled levels of violence and insecurity afflicted regions like Central America. Colombia signed a historic peace agreement, and now faces the challenge of consolidating an inclusive and lasting peace. And from Mexico to Peru to Guatemala, survivors of atrocities and families of victims fought with courage and resilience to build a future based on respect for justice and the rule of law.”

Click here for access to the report.


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:

Short articles on each of the 30 Articles of the UDHR:

Read more at UN News:

70 years of progress on Human Rights:


Report From ICCR’s Human Rights/Human Trafficking Strategic Review Session July 18th, 2018

Photo courtesy of Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center 

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.

Investor Alliance for Human Rights (IAHR)

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 overlapThe 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.

o   Read more Church & Human Rights Activists applaud in UN Resolution on Sri Lanka

Anglican Bishop of Colombo Supports Priest Attacked by Right-wing Buddhist Group August 19th, 2014

04The 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

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