Human Rights Day Connects Local Struggles to Global Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: Claire Syrett and Guadalupe Quinn

International Human Rights Day marks a time to celebrate the work of local human rights organizations seeking to fulfill the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This historic declaration, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, continues to serve as a beacon for human rights and civil rights activists across the globe and here at home.

A collaborative effort among the Eugene Human Rights Commission, the city of Eugene Equity and Human Rights Center and a coalition of local nonprofit groups, Eugene's Human Rights Day Celebration has consistently sought to bring human rights home by connecting our local struggles with those of our sisters and brothers around the globe.

It has also served to guide our community to adopt the principles of the UDHR and implement them locally (check out

This year's celebration on Dec. 6 will highlight local efforts to advance human dignity for members of our community who are too often marginalized: the homeless, immigrants, and gays and lesbians seeking traditional marriage.

Article 3 of the UDHR states, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person," while Article 25 articulates the right to adequate standard of living, including housing. For those without permanent housing, insecurity is a constant fact of life. Homeless people are victimized by criminals, harassed by police and viewed with suspicion by the public.

In these challenging times, more people are finding themselves facing homelessness. In the face of severe budget cuts, our social service agencies continue to find ways to serve this growing population. The Egan Warming Centers are one small but important effort to address the needs of people in crises that will be highlighted at the celebration.

Immigrants have played a critical role in our country's history, beginning with the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. Yet each new group of immigrants has faced discrimination, persecution and hostility.

Lane County is home to immigrant families from many nations and cultures that have come here to seek opportunities for a better life. But often these individuals find they are shut out of the institutions and social structures that would help them achieve their goals, even those who jump through the bureaucratic hoops to obtain legal status.

Articles in the UDHR address the right of human beings to immigrate, to work, and to seek opportunity across national borders while retaining their dignity and other basic human rights. …