Conference Marks 70th Anniversary of UN Declaration of Human Rights

September 28, 2018


The 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers an opportunity to reflect not only on the significance of this landmark document within its own timeframe, but also on its added meaning for our own time, with mounting human rights challenges in evidence within our borders and across the globe.

In an effort to foster conversation about those issues, and to mark the 70th anniversary of the U.N.’s foundational declaration, Stan State’s College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) is hosting a Human Rights Conference Mon-Tues, Oct. 8-9.

“Many people have yet to be exposed to the founding declaration from 70 years ago,” said CAHSS Dean Jim Tuedio. “This conference will direct our attention to the original significance of the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights, coming in the immediate aftermath of World War II, as well as to the subsequent impetus for additional declarations and conventions pertaining to the human rights of specific populations in need of protection, many of which have been approved and ratified over the past 70 years, though not always with the support of the U.S.

Featured talks will position the significance of the original declaration and numerous follow-up conventions within a contemporary perspective to help convey how human rights apply to vulnerable, exploitable and expendable populations in today’s world.

“It was a basic declaration, but in the years following the U.N. faced the necessity of issuing more specific human rights conventions and declarations for categories of marginalized peoples: children, migrants, women, farm worker families and indigenous people, to name just a few,” Tuedio said. “The point of the conference is to show how the original declaration remains foundational to an ongoing human rights discussion of issues that remain a challenge for us to address or resolve 70 years later.”

Conference talks will focus explicitly on contemporary issues relating to the human rights of migrants, indigenous peoples, children, and other vulnerable groups, including women, offenders, asylum seekers and those living in extreme poverty both within and beyond our borders.

The featured keynote speaker is Jean-Victor Nkolo, who has 25 years of service with the U.N., including as spokesperson for three presidents of the U.N. General Assembly and for several U.N. Security Council peace-keeping missions to Africa. Nkolo will speak on the “Impact of Irregular Migration and Forced Displacement on Peace, Security and Development in Africa.”

Other speakers will include Tupac Enrique Acosta (community activist/judge, First Nations International Court of Justice), Laarni Von Ruden (MidPeninsula chapter of United Nations Association of the United States of America) and several Stan State faculty members: Alexandra Hiropoulos (criminal justice), Andrew Conteh (political science), Blake Wilson (criminal justice) and Sean Anderson (political science).

While this is a stand-alone event tied to the U.N. declaration anniversary, in many ways it will serve to spur conversation and thoughtful reflections that will carry over to Stan State’s 4th annual conference on Social Justice in the Central Valley, set for Nov. 13-15.

“The goal is to invite people to invest in the value of helping people who aren’t like them — to understand that each unique population has relevance and importance within the full circuit of our lives,” Tuedio said.

Conference Details