The Words of the Handschin Family

The December 8-10 conference -- Commemorating Human Rights Day 2011

Carolyn Handschin
February 2012

The December 8-10 conference -- Commemorating Human Rights Day 2011: How Far Have We Progressed? -- examined human rights from the viewpoint of the event cosponsors, UPF and WFWP, that humanity has the potential to be a global family under a loving God, and discussed strategies, initiatives and policies for reaching that ideal. Some sessions were held in the House of Commons, including the opening plenary, Human Rights around Europe, at which both Mr. Tarsem King, a member of the House of Lords and patron of UPF UK, and Mr. Tom Brake, a Member of Parliament, welcomed the participants to Committee Room 14, which overlooks the River Thames. Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, president of WFWP-Europe, presided over the session.

Mr. Bhiku Parekh, a Labor Party peer and emeritus professor of political philosophy stated that human rights must include socioeconomic rights. He expressed his concern that "rights are being chipped away" by budget cuts, "the war on immigration" and the practice of "stop and search" by the police in the United Kingdom. Ms. Patricia Scotland, Britain's first black female attorney general (2007-2010) shared her experiences in combating domestic violence in Britain.

Ms. Silvia Escobar, who established the Office of Human Rights in Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out the role that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe play in securing European human rights. Different articles of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights are closely interconnected she explained and "the failure of one is abuse of another." She emphasized that at the core of the matter is dignity, which is the foundation for peace, security and freedom and added, "Dignity even comes before equality"

Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Home Affairs issues, took a human rights angle on the recent riots in the United Kingdom.

UPF Europe chairman Dr. Yong Cheon Song looked from the perspective of our spiritual nature, stating, "Violations of human rights...can be seen as rooted in moral failures and moral ignorance related to spiritual poverty." He suggested that fundamental solutions are to be found in a true family upbringing, character education, and religion, about which he said, "Religions, after all, provide a deep moral and spiritual framework that sensitizes us to the way we treat each other and demands that we aim to be selfless in our dealings with others. They teach that we share a common origin, the source of our sacred (and potentially even divine) value."

Other sessions included Human Rights around the World, Women's Empowerment and Human Rights, and Religious Freedom -- Global Issues featured speakers with expertise and standing in those fields. 

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