Richmond ‘Human Rights City,’ celebrates United Nations document

The city’s Human Rights and Human Relations Commission on Dec. 10 held a ceremony celebrating International Human Rights Day in Council Chambers.

More than 60 people attended the meeting, and volunteers read each of the thirty Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Richmond became a “Human Rights City” when it adopted the spirit of the document on Nov. 3, 2009.

“(The Declaration) guides the spirit of the laws, practices and policies in the city of Richmond,” said commission chair Vivien Feyer, who added that Richmond was a leader in creating a “more just world … with equality, without discrimination.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations on Dec. 10, 1948 in Paris. The Declaration stemmed from the horrors of WWII and was the first global expression of human rights. It consists of 30 articles which have influenced international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws.

Monday’s event was “an exciting opportunity to communicate to the community that our elected representatives are serious about making Human Rights a top priority in their decision making,” Feyer wrote in an invitation last week.

Rita Maran, a UC Berkeley lecturer and United Nations Association East Bay Chapter vice president, organized the presentation.  

Maran noted that people all over the world, some illiterate to written language, know to brandish their small declaration pamphlets when their rights are imperiled.

“Governments heed that,” Maran said. “If you are alone anywhere in the world, these are still your rights.”

Since Richmond became one of the growing list of “Human Rights cities” in 2009, the Human Rights and Human Relations Commission has sponsored and hosted annual service events to celebrate the principles of the 1948 document. One year, Feyer and other commission members hosted an outdoor coffee and breakfast gathering to welcome the hundreds of day laborers who look for work daily at Home Depot on San Pablo Ave.

Monday’s program also included student speakers and a video presentation.

Robert Rogers