Connecticut conference highlights Declaration of Human Rights anniversary

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A coalition of labor, peace, civil rights and human rights organizations in Connecticut will join in the international commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a conference at Quinnipiac University on Saturday, Dec. 6.

Rep. John Conyers, chair of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and sponsor of HR 676 for universal single payer healthcare, will be keynote speaker.

Conference convener, Al Marder, had recently returned from the European Theater in the fight against fascism during World War II when the Declaration was adopted. It made an indelible impression on him. He now chairs the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities of the United Nations, and leads many local organizations concerned with peace and equality.

“Look back historically,” he says. “Even though the cold war was starting, the United Nations was laying out a vision of the future. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights would change our society drastically.”

Marder points out that, “while the State Department uses the Declaration to talk only about free speech, they never mention the obligations of jobs, education, medical care, gender equality, peace, and all the requirements for the full expression of the human personality.”

The Connecticut conference, called around the theme “Fulfilling the Promise,” is bringing together activists from a wide range of groups and relating their issues with the Declaration of Human Rights.

Connecticut AFL-CIO president John Olsen says popularizing the Declaration gives strength to the campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act and the rights of workers to form unions. A resolution in support was passed at their convention.

In addition to the plenary speech by Rep. Conyers and a presentation on the Declaration by Prof. James Silk of the Yale School of Law, the conference will feature six workshops highlighting the right to a living wage, the peace economy as key to sustainability, social and economic struggles in Connecticut, and issues of political injustice and humanizing the judicial system.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Eleanor Roosevelt, drawing upon the Constitution of the United States, was instrumental in drafting the document which enumerates the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights necessary for the dignity and well being of all people and for world peace including every person’s human right to food, health care, housing and public education.

The steering committee, whose meetings were hosted at Planned Parenthood in New Haven, reached out widely. The conference has been endorsed by 45 organizations including the Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Library Association, Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, and a host of labor, peace and social justice groups.

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Alumni Hall on the Quinnipiac University campus. For information visit the conference website at http://udhr.net.

The following day, on Sunday, Dec. 7, Al Marder will be one of three honorees to receive the Amistad Award from the People’s Weekly World at a reception at 4:00 pm at the New Haven People’s Center, 37 Howe Street. Other recipients are Kathy Jackson, chairwoman of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Connecticut and Juan Hernandez, Assistant District Leader of SEIU 32 BJ Justice for Janitors. For information on this event call 203-624-8664 or visit ctpeoplebeforeprofits.blogspot.net.