Event honors human rights


Dec. 10 marks the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.N. General Assembly adopted in 1948.

In the aftermath of World War II, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt became an advocate for human rights across the globe.

Roosevelt became chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and helped institute the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to the U.N. Web site, the declaration is the primary international articulation of the fundamental and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, and the first comprehensive agreement between nations regarding the specific rights and freedoms of all human beings.

Article One states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The U.N. was founded in 1945 after World War II, and is committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

Lately, the U.N. has been in the news for issues such as climate change and carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, as well as the U.S. failing to sign onto an international land mine ban policy.

The U.N. will hold an international conference on climate change next week in Copenhagen, Denmark.

President Barack Obama is supposed to arrive at the conference next Wednesday to discuss the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions effects.

According to a recent New York Times article, White House officials said the U.S. intends to reduce emissions to 17 percent less than 2005 levels by 2020, as well as 83 percent by 2050.

Lloyd Jacobson, executive director of the United Nations Association-Houston, said, ‘(The Obama administration is) trying to figure out something that the Congress would actually either approve as a treaty or adopt as legislation.’

There is a bill in the House of Representatives that proposes a cap-and-trade system that would include major sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

According to The New York Times, a Senate committee passed a measure calling for a 20 percent cut by 2020, but that figure is expected to be lowered as the legislation moves through other Senate committees, mainly due to legislators’ hesitancy to put more burdens on U.S. companies in the current economy.

Jacobson said that the environment and climate changes are human rights issues and connected, but many Americans don’t understand this. He also said that the climate could drive America’s defense policy abroad.

‘There is the prospect of wide-scale mass atrocities in the name of ethnic tensions and who has access to water,’ Jacobson said.

Using Bangladesh as an example, Jacobson said the country faced severe flooding and many of its people have had to migrate to other lands, creating a domino effect on other populations.

There are no events currently scheduled by UH or the UNA’-Houston to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The U.N. hosted an event for World AIDS Day on Tuesday. The theme was ‘Universal Access and Human Rights,’ and according to the U.N. Web site, key slogans were the right to live and right to health, as well as access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support being a critical part of human rights.

UNA’-Houston was established in 1953 and is one of six national chapters that employs a full-time office.

The chapter also hosts a regular gathering at the Salento Caf’eacute; in Houston, where guest speakers and panelists discuss global issues.

‘We’re devoted to trying to make sure Americans know what the U.N. is and what it does,’ Jacobson said.

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