The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Five Ways UUSC Will Continue Protecting and Advancing Human Rights in 2020
By Mike Givens on January 6, 2020
We’ve entered a new year and a new decade, but UUSC’s commitment to affirming and protecting human rights is as steadfast as ever. This year will mark 80 years since the beginning of UUSC, when Waitstill and Martha Sharp bravely risked their lives to support Jews fleeing the Holocaust. That spirit, that intrinsic commitment to not only serving others—but rising to challenge systemic injustice and oppression—is still in the “DNA” of this institution, an institution of committed human rights advocates.
UUSC and its members are hopeful going into 2020. We are optimistic that despite the challenges that have arisen, we can collectively continue the much-needed work of protecting human rights. That hope, paired with an indomitable courage, will guide us in our intentional and supportive relationships with communities directly impacted by injustice and oppression. Our values demand that we take action, that we take the concept of justice and put it on the move, to make it work for and with us.
In 2020, here are five things UUSC and its members can look forward to in our journey to advance human rights:
80 Years of Putting Justice on the Move: This year we will take stock of the amazing strides in human rights that UUSC and our partners have achieved as part of the human rights movement. From our bold advocacy to advance the human right to water to our fearless work to uphold the right to migrate, we have so much to be proud of. But reflection isn’t good enough; we must look forward. Climate change is driving thousands of people from their homes and communities. Migrants in the United States and abroad are being treated brutally—and in some instances, murderously—in the name of nationalism and xenophobia. Right now, we’re seeing a spike in Islamophobia as the Trump administration increases its aggressions against Iran and Iranians and Iranian Americans living in the United States. Crises like Hurricane Dorian are not only taking so many lives, but unearthing shocking inequities for communities who are living at the margins. Australia is experiencing a massive spate of wildfires, which are taking lives and displacing entire communities. None of these injustices can be tolerated. We are called to bear witness and serve. This year will be devoted to building more partnerships with impacted communities and living out our unique hand-to-hand, heart-to-heart, and eye-to-eye partnership model.
The Right to Resist: Oil and gas companies in states like Minnesota, Texas, and Wisconsin are campaigning to build pipelines and other infrastructure that will destroy cemeteries and native lands and decimate entire communities. In lockstep with these extractive plans are proposed pieces of legislation that would penalize and criminalize activists and community members for protesting these destructive projects. The Standing Rock/Dakota Access Pipeline protest of 2016 taught us that indigenous communities possess a wealth of knowledge when it comes to protecting our sacred planet. UUSC and its members will be working alongside these communities to call attention to these extractive industries, their projects, and the corresponding legislation designed to discourage protest.
From Burma to the Bahamas: Responding to Crises: UUSC remains agile in its efforts to stay abreast of the injustices experienced by so many communities across the world. From the Rohingya genocide in Burma to the thousands of families who are disserved in recovery efforts in the Bahamas, UUSC and its members are showing up to build relationships and collaboratively develop long-term solutions that ensure that justice, dignity, and respect are entrenched in the systems that often oppress and marginalize.
Showing Up For Indigenous Peoples: From the impacts of climate change to the brazen attempts by oil and gas companies to destroy native lands and communities, indigenous communities in the United States and abroad are experiencing injustice daily. Their resiliency in the face of this injustice is not only admirable, but drives UUSC and its members to build partnerships with these communities to advance a transformative movement to end the reckless programs, policies, and projects that ignore indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination.
Affirming and Protecting the Right to Migrate: In the United States, UUSC and its members are seeing historic attacks on the right to migrate. From stark detention facilities that separate migrant families to images of children in cages to the high-profile trial of No More Deaths activist Scott Warren, it has become clear that the U.S. immigration system is not only broken, but designed to foster racism, xenophobia, and toxic nationalism. UUSC and its members are resolute in our declaration that migration is a human right and will partner with organizations on the ground in the work of affirming the dignity of those who choose to migrate to this country.
Your membership and participation is pivotal to the worthwhile work of advancing human rights. Membership goes a long way in building partnerships, advocating for policy change, and supporting UUSC’s work to flank the communities boldly addressing injustice and advocating for equity, compassion, and dignity.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!