Sunday, March 27, 2011
It occurs to me that our country has entered into a new foreign policy, that of "the defense of universal human rights." Very few people seem to know the origins of this phrase. However, as the former Executive Director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill (ERVK), Mrs. Roosevelt's former home, I am deeply aware that this is a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was the main accomplishment of Mrs Roosevelt's career. In 1998, ERVK ran a multi-part program to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UDHR. It included a town hall meeting on the day of the anniversary, December 9, at Marist College, in the Roosevelt's home of Dutchess County; a 7 part college lecture series around the country on human rights that included then First Lady Hillary Clinton, former Nobel Peace Prize winner and President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias; Gloria Steinem and others. We also sponsored several teacher training courses on human rights and a local Welfare Reform Monitoring Program that used the UDHR as the standard for evaluating the results of Welfare Reform. It was an ambitious program for a small organization.