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19 December 2018
2018 Human Rights Awards Event Coverage


Celebrating 70 Years of Human Rights Progress

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNA-NCA recognized individuals and organizations working to improve human rights in their communities and around the world. The Awards Ceremony took place at the National Education Association on the evening of December 6th

Over 180 guests attended the program, including a networking reception with the honorees and sponsors. Welcome remarks were made by UNA-NCA President Stephen Moseley and National Education Association's Secretary-Treasurer, Princess R. Moss.  UN Information Center Acting Director, Stefania Piffanelli introduced Secretary-General António Guterres' Human Rights Day message and video.

After thanking sponsors for their generous support, Mr. Moseley gave the floor to The Honorable Constance Morella, former Congressional Representative from Maryland and OECD Ambassador, to present the UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award. This award was received by United Nations Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng, for his outstanding work as the UN Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, working in the continent of Africa, recognizing countries that are vulnerable to genocide and working with world leaders to preemptively prevent genocide. After expressing his gratitude in receiving the award Under-Secretary Dieng proclaimed, “There is no need to convince you of the profound significance of human rights, especially as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This commemoration should be an occasion for celebration but also reflection of how much has been achieved. Indeed, we should not dismiss how far we have advanced in the normative development of the overall framework of international human rights law.” Under-Secretary Dieng ended his remarks by saying, “I started this intervention by honoring the privilege to serve. I end it by reiterating my commitment to service, hand in hand with all of you, in the pursuit of human rights for a better and just world for current and future generations.”

Monica Palacio, Director of the DC Office of Human Rights, took the stage next to present the UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Human Rights Award. The recipient of the award was Karen Mulhauser, UNA-NCA Past President and UNA-USA Past National Council Chair among other positions. This award was given to Ms. Mulhauser for her decades of successful coalition building and lifelong activism championing women’s rights and gender equality, among many other issues. Ms. Mulhauser began her remarks by honoring the late Perdita Huston and her groundbreaking work on behalf of women’s rights around the world through her journalism, coalition building, and activism, “I miss my big sister very much” Ms. Mulhauser  said, “UNA-NCA has offered me opportunities to continue this work as we strive to have local governments adopt the principles of UN’s women’s treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. It is this commitment to gender equity that is one of the dominate threads in the fabric of my life.” Ms. Mulhauser then alluded to the next steps on her journey, “At age 76, I finally know what I want to do when I grow up. I want to spend what time remains helping to save the planet.  When I reflect on the next 70 years and human rights, I keep coming back to the very basic thought that humans have a right to live and we need a planet on which to live….. I would love to talk with Perdita about all this - and in fact have imagined conversations with her.  ‘Perdita, what would you do?’ – and my big sister helps me figure it out.”

Next Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign and Senior Vice President of the UN Foundation took the stage to present the UNA-NCA F. Allen "Tex" Harris Diplomacy Award which was received by Ambassador Robert R. King, Former U.S. Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea for his diplomatic skills protecting human rights in North Korea. After expressing his gratitude and thanking his wife and colleagues, Ambassador King proclaimed, “one thing that I think we need to remember as Americans is that more than anything else, it is our values that make us American. It’s not that we speak the same language and necessarily not that we have ancestors from the same place. Not that we have other elements that are common in people in many countries. The thing that makes us different is that we share the same values and the values that we share, our values of human rights, of democracy, the kinds of things that make us what we are, and it’s this common ideology that more than anything reflects what it means to be an American.” Ambassador King ended his remarks by commending the efforts of UNA-NCA as, “extremely important” in the efforts to fight for human rights all over the world.

Finally to present the UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award, Greater Washington Community Foundation President, Bruce McNamer introduced Parisa Norouzi who accepted the award on behalf of Empower DC, where she is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. Empower DC was presented this award for its tireless work in the DC area with the homeless and disenfranchised. Ms. Norouzi began her speech by declaring what an honor it was, “to receive this award, but also just to be in the room and in the presence of so many people who share our values as we’ve talked about and our pursuit of freedom and human dignity and justice for all people.” She went on to deliver a powerful speech centered around the deep routed history of DC communities in fighting for human rights from the abolition movement to the civil rights movement to the women’s suffrage movement and warned the audience about the obstacles that many DC natives face today such as homelessness, disenfranchisement, and underemployment, “We work with people who are trying to survive in the city on minimum wage or less and we almost never come into contact with some of the people that you all may work with on a regular basis. Other people who share values of human rights, but who are in a completely different arena of this city.” She then spoke to the divisiveness of DC and the need to unite on all fronts to tackle human rights abuses together, “We have such divisions in the city that I think one of the things that I really want to take away from this experience tonight is to do more on my end to try to build more connections with folks like yourself. Because you know, we can’t achieve any of this work if we don’t know each other. If we don’t communicate with each other and if we remain in those silos.” Ms. Norouzi ended her speech by thanking UNA-NCA for their recognition and was met with a standing ovation. 

The evening closed with remarks by UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland, who reminded us of how much work remains to be done to advance human rights globally and at home. “The anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate successes and recommit ourselves to the principles outlined in the Declaration’s 30 ArticlesThe best way to honor this incredible legacy and hope for a better world is by Standing Up for Human Rights.”  

Her remarks were followed by the UN's video celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Check out photos from this celebratory evening!

Thank you to our generous corporate sponsors:

AirSchott and the Schott Family

American Friends Service Committee

Beth Grupp Associates

Black Professionals in International Affairs

Empower DC

Human Rights in North Korea

International Center for Research on Women

Korea Economic Institute

National Education Association 

Northern Trust

Strategy for Humanity

The Bridges institute

The Greater Washington Community Foundation

UNHR Geneva

United Nations Information Center

And to our generous individual sponsors:

Tim Barner & Kathy Guthrie
Patricia Beneke   
Robert Berg and Vivian Derryck
Don & Nancy Bliss
Laura Blyler   
Tom Bradley   
Dawn & Tino Calabia 
Larry Cooley & Marina Fanning
Susan Cutri   
Billie Ann Day
Edison W. & Sally Dick
Nancy Donaldson   
Renee Dopplick   
A. Edward & Susan Elmendorf 
Roger  Griffis  
Morton H. Halperin  
Christina & Shaunen Hansen 
F. Allen Tex Harris 
Charito Kruvant   
Ellen McGovern   
Ambassador George Moose
Stephen F. Moseley
Jud Nirenberg   
Michael Onyemelukwe   
Ambassador Lynn Pascoe  
Abigail & John Pereira 
Ted Piccone and Susan Gibbs
Wayne Pieringer   
Thomas Riesenberg   
David Scotton   
Richard Seifman & Judy Bachrach
Ritu Sharma   
Ellie Van Houtte   
Kimberly Weichel   
Chris Whatley