Human rights are at the very core of the foundation of our organization. Alongside art education and youth development, we consider human rights education to be one of our pillars. Part of the reason the organization was first founded was to ensure that communities across the United States were aware of human rights and international instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a seminal document within the field. More importantly, our intention was that individuals, once educated on them, would be able to exercise and practice these rights.
Therefore, for us the announcement of the Trump administration withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council is deeply concerning and irresponsible. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, this council is “an inter-governmental body with the United Nations system made up for 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.” This announcement sends a dangerous message to the international community. A message which indicates that the United States does not intend to collaborate with others in the international community to address current and future global human rights violations or uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it approaches its 70th anniversary this December.
This unconscionable decision comes at a time when the United States itself is engaged in abysmal human rights violations regarding the separation of migrant families at the border. As one reads this statement, nearly 1,500 children are being held in a warehouse facility, as they await their futures with great uncertainty, separated from their loved ones. As an organization, we unequivocally and utterly condemn these blatant human rights violations.
We remain an organization that struggles to uphold the rights of children in communities across this country, be it those who are incarcerated or those who have been forcibly removed from their families. Families belong together and children belong with their parents in safe communities, not locked up in detention centers anywhere.
During our workshops, we frequently ask our participants, “what is the one thing you must have in order to have human rights?” While it may sound obvious to some, it is a reminder that the only answer is “to be human.” It does not matter if someone is a citizen or undocumented – all are entitled to human rights, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Despite these announcements, nothing for us has changed as an organization – with the exception that we will continue to double our efforts to uphold human rights in our own communities and across the globe. We will continue to support, promote the efforts of, and collaborate with the organizations who work tirelessly to uphold human rights, as a world without human rights would be unfathomable and unconscionable.
On behalf of ARTE,
ARTE Executive Director