Amid protests around the country surrounding the rights of immigrants and refugees, Cornell’s United Nations Association hosted a celebration of International Human Rights Day in Willard Straight Hall on Monday.
The dinner had been in the works since December, but recent political events have increased interest, according to Ashley Davila ’19 and Katarina Schwartsman ’20, UNA research chairs.
“It’s nice to know that there is a space for people who care about and want to protect human rights,” Schwartsman said.
David Rhodes, a member of Ithaca Welcomes Refugees, said that most people, himself included, had little idea of what to do when they first became involved in activism, and emphasized the importance of a willingness to engage.
“When we think about what it means to stand up, I don’t think any of us necessarily have the answer,” Rhodes said.
Michaela Brangan grad, a member of Cornell Graduate Students United, noted the importance of worker solidarity in larger movements for human rights.
“As workers, we have the right to stand up for ourselves. We also have the right to stand up for other people,” Brangan said. “Labor rights, civil rights, and human rights all have a unification.”
Prof. Elizabeth Sanders, government, discussed the divide between nationalism and internationalism.
Nations provide worker protection laws and regulations that globalization tends to strip away, Sanders said, but powerful nations also tend to take “destructive, unilateral actions.”
She noted US involvements in Central America, Iran and Iraq as common causes of refugee displacement.
“What is going to help us out of the crisis the world is in now is exercising our First Amendment rights, and using and improving our own legal institutions,” Sanders said.