Nancy Pelosi has urged passage of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in the U.S. Senate as soon as possible. CEDAW was drafted almost thirty years ago but the U.S. has never signed on. It joins an exclusive club of about 8 nations, including notorious human rights violators, such as Sudan, Somalia, and Iran, in avoiding the treaty. Even though the Senate is Democrat controlled and Obama favors the treaty, it looks like it will be a hard fight toward ratification. Conservatives argue that ratification means the U.S. will give up national sovereignty and be forced to recognize a right to abortion and legalized prostitution. They are unlikely to vote for ratification without provisos that exempt the U.S. from certain portions of the treaty. These exemptions anger liberals who may not want to vote for a watered down CEDAW. Here is a list of the Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee. You can contact them with the following talking points and urge passage of CEDAW:
I urge you to support the Treaty for the Rights of Women and work toward full Senate ratification. The Treaty for the Rights of Women addresses basic human rights of women. It can be an effective tool in reducing violence and discrimination against women and girls, ensuring girls and women receive the same access as boys and men to education and health care, and securing basic legal recourse to women and girls against violations and abuses of their human rights.
As the leading superpower, U.S. ratification would lend weight to the Treaty and provide valuable support to women seeking reforms in countries around the world. Without the United States as a party to the Treaty, repressive governments can easily discount the Treaty’s provisions.
The United States played an important role in drafting this Treaty, which 185 nations have ratified. But our country is now 1 of 8 that have yet to ratify the Treaty, alongside Sudan, Somalia, Qatar, Iran, Nauru, Palau and Tonga.
Ruth Vargas Forman’s lecture is now available as a free podcast from the OSU iTunes store.
Vargas Forman grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and experienced firsthand what it is like to live in a society in which political violence is common. She brings that sensitivity to her work as a psychologist at the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.
In her lecture, Vargas Forman described the kinds of trauma that torture survivors experience and the steps that the center takes to try to re-integrate victims into society. The center here in Oregon is one of about 40 centers across the U.S. and treats people from all around the world. Vargas Forman mostly works with survivors from Latin America (the largest number of people come from Central America, especially Guatemala).
During the talk, Vargas Forman displayed images of paintings by Latin American artist Franciso Botero. Botero’s recent work tries to capture the suffering of victims at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
She pointed out that the paintings could not capture the true nature of the event, but they carried a powerful message nonetheless and she admitted, that after all her work, it was very difficult for her to look at the actual photographs of the prisoners. She provided powerful testimony to the hard work that goes into the recovery process from political violence in the world today.
Dr. Lani Roberts’s thought-provoking lecture is now available as a free podcast from the OSU iTunes store (Launch iTunes on your computer, go down to Lectures, then to Ideas Matter, and click on the tab for Roberts).
Dr. Lani Roberts
In her talk, Dr. Roberts reflects on whether women were meant to be included in the protections offered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She begins by noticing the lack of gender inclusive language in the original articles of the declaration and then considers the lack of enforcement of various conventions that would end discrimination against women worldwide.
What does it say about the United States, for instance, that it is the only developed nation in the world not to ratify the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women?
Despite the world’s lack of progress toward ending gender inequality, Dr. Roberts ends on a hopeful note, recognizing that the United Nations has made a concerted effort, through the Day for Social Justice, to keep the issue of discrimination against women at the forefront of concern for the global community.
On Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 7pm, Dr. Lani Roberts will deliver her Ideas Matter Lecture. Here is an abstract of the talk:
Do women have rights under the Declaration of Human Rights? If not, what does this say about women’s humanness? We will look at three ways of claiming that women are not in fact included in most of the Declaration. If women are deemed fully human, what explains the horrific violations we suffer worldwide? The United Nations General Assembly enacted the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979, some 30 years after the Declaration of Human Rights. Why was it considered necessary? What is required for women’s rights asserted in law (de jure) to become actual rights (de facto) in our lived lives?
The free podcast of Jorge Valadez’s talk is now available from the OSU iTunes store.
Dr. Roberts and Jorge Valadez talk before the lecture
In this lecture, Dr. Valadez assesses the position that immigration ought to be considered a universal human right (emigration is recognized as a human right–the right to leave your own nation). Doing so would mean that nations would have to have an open borders policy and allow any human being to enter their territory.
Dr. Valadez argues that doing away with border controls would not necessarily be compatible with other global justice concerns and would not necessarily allow nations to address their moral duties to the most needy human beings, such as refugees and former colonial subjects.
Valadez advocates for more liberal immigration policies, but ones tailored by nation states to recognize their moral commitments to the global community, especially the duty to alleviate global poverty and to protect the environment for the well-being of future human communities.
Download the lecture and tell us your thoughts on immigration and human rights!
This week Dr. Jorge Valadez joins us for Ideas Matter. Here is a preview of the talk:
The primary focus of this talk will be on the issue of whether immigration should be regarded as a universal human right. Dr. Valadez will critically examine some of the justifications that have been given for the view that immigration should be added to the list of commonly recognized human rights. His primary contention is that national policies on immigration, in order to be considered moral or just, should be understood within the context of a global theory of justice. When seen from this context, we will be able to appreciate the problems with the claim that immigration is a human right, even while recognizing that countries owe strong moral obligations to one another that can be partially discharged by more liberal immigration policies.
The free podcast of Dr. Jeremy Wisnewski’s lecture is now available from the OSU iTunes store (just go down to Lectures and Courses, click on the Ideas Matter icon, and you can download a free copy of the lecture.)
In this presentation, Wisnewski analyzes former President Bush’s weekly radio addresses, Justice Department Memos, U.S. federal statues, and international law covering the treatment of prisoners and the rules of war, to establish that the Bush administration intentionally engaged in an attempt to circumvent human rights and solidify the supremacy of the executive branch of the government over all others.
He maintains that the Bush league deliberately violated the Geneva Conventions and, as such, committed war crimes. In addition, the Justice Department under Bush, drafted policy memos that justified the use of interrogation techniques that were tantamount to torture as defined by the United Nations.
At the end of the talk, Wisnewski called for members of the Bush administration to be tried on war crimes, either by the United States itself, or by other nations, if they are ever to travel abroad (in the way that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in England for human rights abuses he had conducted in Chile).
Listen in to this provocative lecture and leave your thoughts!