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By Dottie Stevens
I first heard of the Human Rights Cities concept at the Old South Church in Boston at the, Ideas and Actions, Conference on July 31, 2008 where I was asked to facilitate a workshop. I learned it was an international campaign that was already implemented in 8 other countries. Having already been working on trying to implement and enact the Universal Declaration for Human Rights for many years here I thought this was a good step forward. So along with Survivors Inc. and the ARMS Center at UMass/Boston we organized to bring this campaign to Boston.
We held the conference on the campus of UMass/Boston and about 35 people attended. The response was so positive we decided that we should move ahead and create a steering committee of at least 12 people from connected interests to begin the process.
The goal is to have the language of the human rights declaration to be included in all government policies as well as school curriculums. The premise being that we should all be intimately familiar with the idea of human rights as our right as human beings.
There was another interesting conference held on December 6, 2010 entitled Human Rights Cities/Modern Day Slavery.
The Immokalee Worker from Florida, Cruz Salucio and Megan Cohorst from Student / Farm workers Alliance, along with The Justice Center and Survivors Inc were panelists. The workers from Fla. spoke of the injustice and violation of their rights as human beings and workers while employed by the produce companies and upcoming protests.
David Jefferson, from the Social Justice Coalition and Spare Change newspaper, spoke about unfair treatment of workers and low wages they are paid.
Dottie Stevens from Survivors Inc., Connie Chow a Human rights Activist, Diane Dujon Mass Welfare Rights Union and Lenore Pereira from the 25% Solution. spoke about the Human Rights Cities and why Boston should adopt it here. We learned that a precedent has already been set as Washington D.C. has passed a resolution to implement a Human Rights City there.
We are in the process of assembling a steering committee to bring this concept forward. If anyone is interested in being a part of this historic plan please get in touch with us.
Another Human Rights Cities forum is scheduled for April 2011.
A CEREMONIAL RESOLUTION IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
To recognize December 10, 2008, as "Washington, DC Human Rights Day" in the District of Columbia.
WHEREAS, December 10, 2008, marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
WHEREAS, The United Nations passed resolution A/RES/62/171 proclaiming the year commencing on December 10, 2008 the international Year of Human Rights Learning;
WHEREAS, This is an opportunity to call attention to human rights violations around the world and to continue to promote the importance of educating our citizens about human rights;
WHEREAS, The District of Columbia Public Schools has partnered with the American Friends Service Committee to create courses that teach our students about human rights issues;
WHEREAS, On this day, citizens of the nation's capital, led by individuals and organizations, affirm their commitment to human rights by declaring Washington, DC, a Human Rights City;
WHEREAS, Washington, DC being a Human Rights City makes it a model for communities around the world to witness practical ways the human rights framework can make every citizen a partner of sustainable change;
WHEREAS, A Human Rights City is one whose residents and local authorities, through on-going discussions and creative exchanges of ideas, come to understand that human rights, when widely known as a way of life, assist in identifying the issues and informs the actions in our DC communities, for meaningful, positive economic and social change;
WHEREAS, Developing Human Rights Cities is an attempt to build infrastructure for conflict prevention, human security, sustainable development, and create a place for active civic engagement at the local, national, and global level;
WHEREAS, Washington, DC will be declared the first Human Rights City in the United States;
WHEREAS, As a Human Rights City, Washington, DC will be joining other human rights cities around the world in working to provide leadership and advocacy to secure, protect, and promote human rights for all people;
RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, that this resolution may be cited as the "Washington, DC Human Rights Day Recognition Resolution of 2008."
Sec. 2. The Council of the District of Columbia recognizes December 10, 2008 as "Washington, DC Human Rights Day."
Sec. 3. This resolution shall take effect immediately upon the first date of the publication in the District of Columbia Register.