Human Rights Day to be celebrated at UMass Boston

Flyer for the movie night event on December 10, 2021 at 5:00PM in University Hall.

Every year, Human Rights Day is observed on Dec. 10—the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The UDHR is an aspirational document that laid a framework for the nations to acknowledge the inalienable rights everyone is entitled to by the virtue of being human beings. Regardless of race, gender, religion, color, language and various other factors, the states are under the obligation to protect these rights of the individual.

These international days and occasions are used to emphasize and educate the citizens on local as well as global issues and concerns which are hindering the overall growth processes. 

Not only do these days educate people, but they also serve as an indicator of the interest a particular subject harbors. Unlike any other, Human Rights Day aims at educating people about the basic rights they are entitled to and ways in which they can practice their rights.  

Driven by a shared vision of educating young people about their human rights, under the guidance of professors Nada Mustafa Ali and Elora Chowdhary, the students of UMass Boston founded the university’s Human Rights Group.

 The mission of the group is to educate the students and faculty members about their rights and promote the interdisciplinary understanding of human rights. The group aims at promoting human rights and social justice at the institutional level through comprehensive actions like facilitating discussion and connecting with a diverse group of alumni working in the field of human rights as well as social justice.  

“Human Rights Day events hosted by the human rights group on campus will provide students with an opportunity to engage with the important and timely topics. I would ask all students interested in these concepts of social justice, climate justice and even human rights to participate in the events,” said Elizabeth Duseau, president of the Human Rights Group.

Every year, The United Nations General Assembly has the responsibility to decide a theme for the day. The 2021 theme for Human Rights Day is equality; this means reducing inequalities and advancing human rights. In brief, the theme relates to the idea of equality derived from article one of the UDHR: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” 

The theme aims at addressing the deep-rooted discrimination that has affected many communities over the decades. Indigenous people, girls and women, the LGBTQ+ community, migrants and more remain the most vulnerable communities by varied forms of discrimination.  

In this regard, two big events will be held at the campus at UMass Boston on Dec. 10 to mark the occasion of Human Rights Day. 

The first is the keynote event for the Women’s and Gender Studies Department. The subject matter is about the current Sudanese situation and a talk about climate change. 

The title of the event has been named as, “Show solidarity with the people of Sudan, and discuss climate change.” In this event, two keynote speakers will be present: Ms. Nisreen Elsaim and Mr. Maurice Roberson. 

Elsaim is a Sudanese activist and has long been at the forefront of climate justice activism. Having started her activism work back in 2012, Ms. Elsaim has always been on the frontlines which ignited her ambition to found a group and become the chair of the “Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change,” while also serving as chair in the U.N. Secretary General's Youth advisory group on climate change.

On the other hand, Mr. Roberson is a graduate of UMass Boston. Having completed a major in Africana studies and a minor in human rights boosted his ambitions further,  which made him establish the Human Rights Group on campus. After successful years at UMass Boston, Mr. Roberson is currently pursuing his law degree at Georgetown University. 

The event will be held on Friday, Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in University Hall on the first floor in room 1300. 

The second event that will be held on the same day is a joint collaborative event, arranged by the School of Global Inclusion & Social Development and the Human Rights Group. The event is a screening of the movie “Before the Flood.”

The movie is from the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie presents an account of changes occurring in today's world due to climate change as well as actions humans and societies can take to prevent them. 

After the movie, there will be a broad discussion about it and the topic “climate change” with four knowledgeable panelists: Carlos Perez-Espitia, a SGISD teaching fellow and a human rights attorney; Dadasaheb Tandale, Thalia Viveros-Uehara; and Nicholas Johnson, who are all SGISD Ph.D. students.

Everyone is welcome to attend both events. The movie—a collaborative event—will be held in the University Hall in the second floor auditorium, room 2120, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 10. Students and faculty are welcomed to attend. 

For a virtual location, please contact Adeyn.Downey@umb.edu to RSVP and receive a zoom link.

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