(2010) Eugene Among Leaders in HR Efforts

Title: Eugene among leaders in effort for universal human rights

Source: The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR). (Apr. 6, 2010): News: pA9.

Document Type: Article

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Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Ibrahim Hamide and Ken Neubeck

The deep recession in which the United States became mired in December 2007 has generated serious hardships and uncertainties. Slow to reverse direction, negative economic conditions continue to undermine the standards of living and hopes for upward mobility of tens of millions of people. The collateral damages have sparked feelings of confusion, frustration and fear.

Unfortunately, some people are responding to these feelings by striking out against the innocent. Members of religious groups, immigrants and others have become scapegoats, blamed for a variety of social and economic problems for which they really bear no responsibility.

Acts of bias and hate crimes have been on the increase. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of active hate groups is growing, as is their visibility and rhetoric. Some media figures and politicians scapegoat with impunity, thereby giving implicit permission to others to do so as well. Should it continue, the upward trend in verbal and physical attacks on blameless but vulnerable "others" will do ever more irreparable human harm.

If we are to solve our social problems, we need a framework for thinking about and responding to these attacks that is predicated upon respect for one another and the strength that we can draw from our common humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides core values and standards to which we can look for guidance and inspiration.

This historic document (www .udhr.org/UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 with strong U.S. government support. It has served as a powerful beacon of hope to people throughout the world for more than 60 years.

The declaration has energized people to join together in struggles against political oppression, violence, extreme poverty, joblessness, forced migration, discrimination and exploitation, lack of health care, and other unjust conditions undermining their humanity.

As the declaration makes clear, human rights are universal. Every human has these rights, regardless of who they are or where they reside. Because the rights enumerated in the declaration have become embedded over time in international treaties and international law, some might think that human rights are complicated or difficult to understand. In reality, the concept is simple:

Human rights refer to the minimum conditions that must be met if all people are to live with dignity and realize their full potential. Respecting, protecting and fulfilling the full range of human rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - civil, political, social, economic and cultural - promotes these conditions.

The United States identifies itself as a champion of human rights. However, in comparison to many other nations, the U.S. government is an outlier in not using a human rights framework when addressing domestic problems and issues.

In response, a diverse and growing national coalition of social justice groups has emerged. Their goal is to foster a domestic "human rights culture" that will support implementation of human rights principles and standards at all levels of government.

Recently, some 50 core members of this coalition formed the Campaign for a New Domestic Human Rights Agenda to propose concrete steps that the Obama administration can take to begin bringing the human rights framework to bear on federal policymaking (www .ushrnetwork.org).

Meanwhile, domestic implementation of human rights principles and standards has been receiving a great deal of attention at the local level in places such as Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago and New York. Eugene has begun to receive national recognition as a leader in this regard.

Over the last three years, the Eugene Human Rights Commission has worked to kindle conversations in the community and within city government about the need to "bring human rights home."

This coming year, the commission will collaborate with city staff members to develop a plan to implement elements of the human rights framework across all city departments. Local social justice groups increasingly are using human rights language in framing pressing local issues on which they are working - from homelessness to discrimination to environmental justice, to immigrant rights to mental health care. There is, of course, much more work to be done.

Progress in the movement to implement human rights at the local level will be highlighted at two path-breaking events presented by the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission and the Community Coalition for Advancement of Human Rights. "Looking at Eugene and Lane County Through a Human Rights Lens" will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Hult Center's Studio One, Seventh Avenue and Willamette Street. An all-day Human Rights Community Summit, "Human Rights Start at Home," will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Lane Community College's Center for Meeting and Learning, 4000 E. 30th Ave.

Of course, both events are open to the public.

Ibrahim Hamide is president of the Eugene Middle East Peace Group and a member of the city's Human Rights Commission. Ken Neubeck, also a city human rights commissioner, is executive director of Amigos Multicultural Services Center. The views presented here are their own. For more information on this week's events, go to www .humanrightscity.com or call 541-682-5177.

GUEST VIEWPOINT By Ibrahim Hamide and Ken Neubeck

Source Citation

"Eugene among leaders in effort for universal human rights." Register-Guard [Eugene, OR] 6 Apr. 2010: A9. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 24 Aug. 2011.

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