Monday, April 11, 2005

Jotaka in Geneva

My colleague, Jotaka Eaddy, is currently in Geneva doing lobbying/organizing work during the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Many in the U.S. are not aware of the work of the U.N. Commission's work. They meet for five weeks every spring to discuss and debate human rights issues around the world, including the death penalty. Last year, in part because of Jotaka's work, they passed a resolution strengthening their opposition to the juvenile death penalty.

Here's an excerpt from a recent email Jotaka sent about her experience:

Working in the UN is absolutely amazing. It is like lobbying Congress but on a much larger scale because you are lobbying entire countries. I try not to let it intimidate me....I have been very successful in lobbying for language that prohibits the death penalty for people with mental illness in the new Convention (Treaty) that is being drafted in the UN. I’ve met with many governmental delegations that are now going to lobby on behalf of us!! There is much follow up work to be done at the UN in New York. But I am certain that if we are successful this will have a major impact on any Supreme Court Case dealing with this issue in the next three to five years.


I have to pinch myself sometimes when I stop and think about what I am doing. Never in a million years did I think that I would be working to advance and working with countries to offer language to UN treaties. I am truly blessed to be so young and working on a serious level to advance international human rights policy. The UN is also a great place to meet many wonderful activists from all over the world. I am so amazed at the work that many people are doing to defend human rights. There are nearly 2,000 governmental delegates, UN Staff and experts, and NGO lobbyists here so you can imagine the networking going on. It is also very moving to meet other people that have spent their whole lives fighting on issues that are either the same or very common to the struggles that we have in the U.S., yet there they are in other parts of the world. Sadly you soon realize over here that racism, discrimination, sexism, homophobia and other human rights violations have no borders. I do hope that we as advocates quickly realize that our efforts should have no borders as well.

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