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The UN 69th Celebration on Oct 19, 2014 featured a Rights-and-Activism themed luncheon at the UU Church with Panelists Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange and Bruce Knotts, Director of Unitarian-Universalist United Nations Office, Download the flyer and the program.

Following the panel there were breakout discussions at each table led by organizational representatives.

Each table was charged to come up with action items on its own particular topic. See results below.

Taking Action for
Human and Environmental Rights
co-sponsored by UU UNO SF and the UNA-SF Council of Organizations

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Unitarian Universalist Church and Center
1187 Franklin St., San Francisco

Discuss, Explore, and Participate

11:00 AM Church Service
12:15-2:30 Luncheon with panel and breakout discussions at each table. Attend morning service or afternoon luncheon or both.


Table Breakouts discussions until 2:30 pm led by Bay Area Human Rights leaders.
Group Table Discussion Topics and Facilitators:

1) Animal Welfare and the UN - connecting the dot with the abolishment of slavery. How can we persuade UN member states to sign an animal welfare charter rendering cruelty to animals unconstitutional everywhere? Table facilitator: Dr. John Spangenberg is a Wall Street investment banker and philanthropist. He runs an environmental stewardship portfolio including renewable energy finance, ecovillages and animal welfare transparency. Following St Francis he has dedicated himself to a life of humility and community service.

Discussion Summary: Animal welfare is an integrated part of the rights of "mother earth".

Recommendations for Action:
1. Vote No to Proposition 1 to divert water and reduce salmon fish stock to extinction.
2. Report on animal cruelty, education and transparency.
3. Endorse declaration of animal rights by all UN member states.


2) Climate Justice - The discussion will center on the effects of Climate Change on the environment and on the people who have contributed the least to Global Warming yet who are already feeling most of the effects.
Table facilitator: Larry Danos is the Environmental Coordinator for the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church with community organizations and a Member of UU United Nations Office Climate Coalition. He maintains contact with various environmental organizations (350SF, 350BA, Food & Water Watch, Sunflower Alliance, et.al.) in the Bay Area and reports to the Church’s Green, UUs for Peace and Justice, UU-United Nations Office and SF 99% Coalition committees regarding environmental actions, events and meetings.

Recommendations for Action:
* We have individual responsibility to minimize our impact on the environment and to make informed conscious decisions as consumers.
* We can make conscious decisions and learn to do better. We can push at local, state and national level. Internationally, the U.N. needs an elected assembly that can at least make law.


3) Community Rights is a peoples’ legal evolution enabling communities to maintain community control in a world that gives away human rights to corporations. Community Rights activists pass laws that place the rights of residents and nature above corporate “legal” rights. Table facilitator: Shannon Biggs is an attorney and Director of Human Rights at Global Exchange. She specializes in communities that are or might possibly be in a sacrifice zone for corporate profits, assisting those communities in “Rights-based Organizing” that emphasizes the needs and wants of a community in the form of a civic legal arrangements. On Nov 20, 2014, Community Rights became "Movement Rights" with its own organization and website.

Discussion Summary: Focus on specific legal community bills of right that can be models, models of community-based job development and finance. Specific issues are portals for that. Plus -- embrace opinion diversity to heal tensions.

Recommendations for Action:
* Economics of the biosphere - how do communities reimagine local economies?
* Local Bill of Rights Ordinances
* Be in touch with Shannon@movementrights.org
* Strip corporate constitutional rights

Here is a blog on the win in Mendocino:
http://www.globalexchange.org/blogs/peopletopeople/2014/11/05/mendocino-countys-historic-vote-elevates-residents-rights-bans-fracking/



4) Emerging Issues in Human Rights - Global solidarity and citizenry: civil rights as human rights * LGBTQI Intersex, Androgenism: torture and the binary gender paradigm * Immigration/Migration as Human Rights * Global equality across social and income groups * Individual well-being (health, education, food). Table facilitator: Rochelle Fortier, an immigration attorney involved with border children seeking a safe harbor from persecution in their home countries. She based in San Francisco and has extensive experience assisting women and children secure their immigration rights in the USA. See website at rafnlaw.com.

Discussion Summary: Discussed the border children and others that enter the U.S. without documentation or overstay.

Recommendations for Action:
1. Inequality of migrant access to the United States must be addressed and we must also address income inequality.
2. Additional funding is needed for attorneys for migrant children.


5) Global Sexual Exploitation of Women – from men buying women to use them for prostituted sex to female genital mutilation to control women's sexuality to rape. Is it time for the UN to recognize that all human beings have a right to live free of sexual exploitation? Table facilitator: Dr. Kathleen Barry, Sociologist and Professor Emerita, a feminist human rights activist and the author of Female Sexual Slavery (1979) and Prostitution of Sexuality (1995). www.kathleenbarry.net

Discussion Summary: A discussion of sexual exploitation through trafficking and prostitution.

Recommendations for Action:
1) Issue should be discussed in the the schools beginning at an early age.
2) Stopping media images that promote the sexualization of women
3) Education, job training, etc for the women who are trafficked
4) A new UN Convention against Sexual Exploitation.
5) Implement the Nordic Model which criminalizes the purchase and not the sale of sex. This change along with the setup of safe routes out of sex work has reduced prostitution in Sweden by 50%.


6) Homelessness - The right to housing is recognized as a human right. What constitutes "adequate" housing? What constitutes a home? What can we do to work toward creating adequate housing and ensure everyone has a place they call home? Table facilitator: Carmen Barsody, OSF Co-founder of Faithful Fools Street Ministry together with Rev. Kay Jorgensen in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Since 2000 Carmen has lived in the Tenderloin District of SF, which is often called the “containment zone” for those struggling with poverty, mental illness and homelessness.

Discussion Summary: Homelessness is a large & complex subject. We have a responsibility to meet needs of the people before us. A growing group of homeless people are LGBTQ youth. We used "The Right to Housing" from hrea.org to guide us in definition of "adequate housing". We addressed prop G in San Francisco.

Recommendations for Action:
1. Be creative in creating housing, such as rehab jails into life-giving environments for people to live. Jails, as we know, house the mentally ill.
2. Provide support for getting the services, learning what people need, and responding.
3. Pay attention & advocate for basic human rights & needs, such as the right to sleepl; advocate to city to stop punitive responses like washing sidewalks to prevent people from sleeping.


7) Human Rights and Equality for Women in the U.S. (Cities for CEDAW campaign), and around the world - The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world. The Cities for CEDAW campaign seeks the adoption of a CEDAW measure in 100 US cities by December 2015.
Table facilitator: Roberta Guise, MBA, is an award-winning marketer who focuses on guiding people, especially women, to be visible and known as authorities in their fields. As Co-Chair of Public Policy for the American Association of University Women, San Francisco, she’s working with the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women on CEDAW matters and women’s issues, and is well-known and respected in Commission circles. She may be contacted at roberta@guisemarketing.com.

Recommendations for Action:
* Getting women elected and appointed to policy making positions
* Collaboration / Information Clearing House
* Support Cities for CEDAW
* Address root causes of inequality of women - stereotyped media biases - early childhood education / Children / Culture / Workplace
* Empower Women


8) Indigenous Peoples’ Rights - Indigenous peoples around the world are each special and different, but there are similarities in how they are everywhere mistreated by the powers that be.
Table facilitator: Nwe Oo is a member of the Rakhine People and a human rights activist who worked in conflict zones in Bangladesh - Burma - Thailand border areas. She was instrumental in the creation of the Policy on Women, a coalition of NGOs working to advance the status of women and a Delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. She currently lives in Oakland and may be contacted at Nwe.Oo@chaaweb.org.

Discussion Summary: Protect cultures of all peoples. End genocide and its corollaries of oppression (ethnocide, privatization of water and indigenous land).

Recommendations for Action:
* Getting women elected and appointed to policy making positions
* Collaboration / Information Clearing House
* Support Cities for CEDAW
* Address root causes of inequality of women - stereotyped media biases - early childhood education / Children / Culture / Workplace
* Empowering Women
* World law that works
* Stronger terms in documents
* Recognize all cultural peoples, not just nation-states


9) LGBT Rights - The unique problems of LGBT people as they flee state-sponsored persecution around the world. Table facilitator: Galen Workman - Member of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco since 1982; Currently, Secretary of the UUSF Board. He has been active in anti-war and justice projects in addition to his current work with LGBT refugees. Contact Galen Workman here: Galen@ozdachs.com.

Discussion Summary: Discussed the distinctions among the classifications of LGBTI people coming to the United States:
* Asylum Seeker already in the US on other type of visa (tourist, student, temporary work, etc.) but cannot return home because of fear of persecution. Asking for permission to remain in US.
* Asylee is an Asylum Seeker given permission by the Immigration Court to stay in the US.
* Refugee was given permission to enter the US while still in a foreign country.
All three classifications of people are here legally and refugees and people granted asylum are on path of citizenship. LGBTI have unique needs: Unlike other newcomers they need to come to cities with community connections because they cannot rely on family or ethnic communities.

Recommendations for Action:
Obtain volunteer housing locally by doing presentations in the community
Include humanists and other open-minded groups
Acknowledge potential of empty nesters to provide housing
Build awareness of the refugees' needs in LGBTI groups through presentations and networking


10) Mass Incarceration - The U.S. stands alone among its rich economic partners in its poor treatment of prisoners. We even fail to comply with rules we have sanctioned, such as those in the Geneva Convention, when it comes to our own prisoners. Table facilitator: Dr. Corey Weinstein has been in medical practice in San Francisco for 42 years. He is the founder of California Prison Focus, a human rights organization whose mission is to shut down the solitary confinement units in California prisons and to end long term isolation, medical neglect, and all forms of discrimination.

Discussion Summary: Over-incarceration * Purpose of prisons in the U.S. * Human Rights Violations

Recommendations for Action:
* Vote / organize for Prop 47 (which passed!)
* Ratify Convention on the Rights of the Child
* Participate in Mass Incarceration Movement events
* take the Pledge of Resistance: http://stopmassincarceration.net/content/pledge-resistance
* See prisons.org for more information and/or contact Dr Weinstein at corey2w@att.net.


11) The Right to Clean Water - The discussion will cover lessons learned from California’s legislation, the future of water rights in California and how to extend those rights to the broader world. Table facilitator: Jennifer Clary is Director of Clean Water Action’s Central Valley Program. As water policy and legislative analyst for CWA since 2003, she is one of the architects of California’s Right to Clean Water.

Discussion Summary: Sufficient, clean, safe, accessible, affordable, proactive, reactive. Access to Clean Water as a Women's Right.

Recommendations for Action:
Safe drinking water in Bamenda, Cameroon: Sophie Ngassa is establishing a nonprofit to develop water supply and distribution network for her community in northwest Cameroon. We should find a way to support her efforts with technical and no-strings financial support: ngassas@yahoo.com.


12) Right to Peace - Is there, or should there be, a right to peace and to a nuclear free world? Is peace more than the absence of war? Should the UN find a way to make war and possession of nuclear weapons illegal -- world crimes? Heads of state are frequently above the law. What changes in the UN judiciary and enforcement system are needed to fix this problem? Table facilitator: Dr. Roger Kotila, is a psychologist and peace activist. He is currently Vice President of the Democratic World Federalists and Editor of Earth Federation News & Views. See his articles in Reader Supported News: "Peace Strategy Upgrade: Putting 'Ending War Itself' on the Table" (1/19/14), & "Has National Security Become a Dangerous Mental Disorder?" (10/25/13).

Discussion Summary: (A) "Right to Peace" includes more than the absence of war. It includes freedom from fear (war, nuclear weapons) and freedom from want (food, health care, etc.). Issues such as climate change, women's rights, terrorism, and structural violence must be addressed. (B) The UN's Human Rights Council is working on a declaration for the "Right to Peace". It is open to stakeholders (NGOs, Citizens).

Recommendations for Action:
(A) Helping more people gain empathy, compassion, and inner peace including the use of education.
(B) The Right to Religion and Culture must be part of the "Right to Peace"!
(C) Revision and Review of the UN Charter:
(C1) Eliminate "veto" power in Security Council.
(C2) Change UN Charter's "Right to Unlimited Sovereignty" so that nations can no longer do anything they want even if it involves invasion and war.
(C3) Establish new UN judiciary system. No one should be above the law.
(C4) Enforceable World Law.
(D) Join UN Human Rights Council's working group on the right to peace.
(E) Work for World Parliament & World law that works; in other words: Support Democratic World Federalists so people will respect everyone's human rights with World Unity.


13) Two-Tiered Legal System - Over the last 40 years our right to a day in court has been under indirect attack, through such things as the $1.5 billion cuts in the courts and privatization of the legal system.
Table Facilitator: Michele Hays is Operations Manager with Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals (CCLP) and co-publisher of its national publication, Verdict. For over 35 years, she has been a full time volunteer organizer, beginning her work with all volunteer, non-government funded associations of low-income workers, such as domestic and attendant care workers.

Discussion Summary: The United States suffers from a two-tiered legal system -- one for those who can afford it and one for those who cannot. Legal representation has become a luxury that only a few can fford, when 95% of the country's attorneys serve 1% of the population. The cuts in the court budgets over the last few years, has meant that just in California, over 60 courthouses and over 200 courtrooms have been closed. 60% of moderate income people go to court without an attorney and 80% of low income people go to court without an attorney! Join CCLP's fight to get the courts fully funded.

Recommendations for Action:

1. Volunteer with CCLP's legal advice sessions and learn to be an advocate.
2. Help set up a speaking engagement for CCLP to explain its work to your school, community or religious organization.
3. Circulate CCLP's petition to get the courts fully funded.

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