On December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the cornerstone of the human rights movement.  To commemorate the signing, December 10 is now celebrated globally as Human Rights Day.  In honor of Eleanor Roosevelt’s central role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration, and to mark the occasion, Roosevelt House is holding a series of events over the course of next week that engage with different facets of the human rights cause.

The day before the Universal Declaration was adopted, December 9, 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt addressed the UN General Assembly with a simple but rousing entreaty that the council vote to adopt the document.

In her inimitable voice, Eleanor described Universal Declaration as “the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”  She concluded her speech simply:  “Let this third regular session of the General Assembly approve by an overwhelming majority the Declaration of Human Rights as a statement of conduct for all; and let us, as Members of the United Nations, conscious of our own short-comings and imperfections, join our effort in all faith to live up to this high standard.”  The Assembly voted the next day to adopt the declaration 48-0, with eight abstentions.

Video: Eleanor Addressing the General Assembly

Roosevelt House is Proud to Observe the Legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during the week of December 10th – December 15th, 2012, with the Following Programs and Events

For more information on these and other events, please see the programs listings on our website.

Tuesday, December 11: South Africa, the United States, and Human Rights: A Ripple of Hope
A workshop designed for U.S. and global history, government, civics, and ELA teachers.

This workshop will focus on the internationalization of civil rights and human rights. We will explore the links between the United States and South Africa in the struggle for racial equality, and make connections to the work of Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the ongoing global struggle for human rights. The morning session will feature the documentary film RFK in the Land of Apartheid: A Ripple of Hope, about Robert Kennedy’s 1966 visit to South Africa, and his famous “Ripple of Hope” speech.

The workshop is designed for U.S. and global history, government, civics, and ELA teachers who teach not only about South Africa and apartheid, but also about the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the UDHR.

A collaboration between Facing History and Ourselves, the Hunter College Department of Film & Media Studies, the Hunter College School of Education, Hunter College High School, the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

Wednesday, December 12: Democratic Emerging Powers and the International Human Rights System,
A Research and Policy Dialogue Workshop

Organized by Professor Rob Jenkins (Roosevelt House Faculty Associate, Hunter College Department of Political Science), with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the immediate purpose of this forum and working group is to obtain feedback on the findings of recent studies in preparation for publication in the FES-NY Occasional Paper series.  The forum will feature presentations by: Rob Jenkins on IBSA countries and how they are shaping the development of Human Rights norms, the international institutions through which they are realized, and their application to country-specific cases; Bertie Ramcharan (formerly of OHCHR) on how they are engaging in the Geneva-based Human Rights institutions (HRC, special procedures, and treaty bodies); and Emma Mawdsley (Newnham College, Cambridge) on how IBSA country engagement with the international aid architecture (as non-traditional donors) is affecting Human Rights issues.

On Thursday, December 13: Criminalizing Humanitarianism? How Counterterrorism Measures Obstruct Humanitarian Action
A panel discussion of how counterterrorism measures can obstruct humanitarian action in crisis areas like Somalia, Pakistan and Mali.

A host of counterterrorism measures enacted since 9/11 are meant to cut off resources to terrorist groups, but can have the unintended impact of obstructing humanitarian action in some of the world’s most acute crisis areas.  Both the criminal law prohibition on “material support,” which makes it illegal to provide goods or services to any group listed as terrorist, and additional Treasury Department sanctions provisions can have a negative impact on the ability of humanitarian organizations to reach civilians in need. A recent report by the Charity & Security Network, Safeguarding Humanitarianism in Armed Conflict, demonstrates how these overbroad counterterrorism measures are inconsistent with international humanitarian law (IHL), and should be reformed with IHL principles in mind.

Join us for a panel of experts who will describe the impact of counterterrorism measures on human rights and  humanitarian action, and discuss the legal and policy implications for IHL, human rights law and the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

Speakers include:

· Denise Furnell, Senior Director of Global Safety and Security, International Rescue Committee.
· Kay Guinane, Director of the Charity and Security Network and co-author of the Safeguarding Humanitarianism report.
· Naz Modirzadeh, Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School, HLS-Brookings Project on Law and Security.
· Shalini Nataraj, Director for Advocacy and Partnerships, the Global Fund for Women.

Moderated by Joanne Mariner, Distinguished Lecturer and Rita Hauser Director of Hunter College’s Human Rights Program and sponsored by the Hunter College Human Rights Program.

Other Human Rights Week Events from Friends in the Roosevelt Circle

The Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites has partnered with the Eleanor Roosevelt Leadership Center at Val-Kill to invite Gillian Sorensen, a Senior Advisor and National Advocate for the U.N. Foundation, to speak on “Whose Human Rights” from 11-2pm on December 11th (see: http://www.ervk.org/ for more information)