Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) premiered the video at a town hall meeting in Boston this week, as over 600 people gathered at Harvard Medical School to commemorate World AIDS Day and the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
This illuminating document, which turned 60 on December 10, 2008, was drafted in 1948 under the leadership of former First Lady and UN Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt. Among the fundamental human rights it encompasses are the right to protection, the right to health, and the right to participate in government. These rights were invoked at the Boston gathering, which was co-sponsored by 69 New England-based hospitals, universities, and nonprofit groups.
PHR was the lead organizer of the town hall meeting, where PHR’s CEO Frank Donaghue joined Rebecca Haag (AIDS Action Committee), Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, MD (Bethel A.M.E. in Boston and Save Darfur Coalition in Washington, D.C.), Jim Yong Kim, MD (François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights), and PHR’s Pat Daoust, MSN, RN, in a lively and moving discussion of global AIDS and the right to health.
PHR also released its Call to President-Elect Obama To Fulfill the Promise of Universal Human Rights, which is being presented to his transition team.
While Senator Kennedy could not join us at the event, his grand-nephew, Joseph P. Kennedy III (see photo), accepted the award on his behalf and read this letter from Ted Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy wrote:
“It’s a great honor to accept the Physicians for Human Rights Award for Outstanding Leadership on the Right to Health. I’m humbled by this tribute, and inspired by your commitment to advancing the cause of human rights in the United States and throughout the world.
“I commend as well the other organizations that helped arrange this assembly of brilliant and dedicated advocates: The AIDS Action Committee, the Francois Xavier [Bagnoud] Center for Health and Human Rights, and Partners [I]n Health. You have all nobly advanced the cause set forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, announced by Eleanor Roosevelt nearly 60 years ago to this day.”
Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) also released a video message, recorded for the occasion. Senator Kerry honored his colleague Senator Kennedy, affirmed his own commitment to fight AIDS in the U.S. and globally, and thanked the gathered groups and their supporters for “years of leadership and of advocacy.”
All of the town hall speakers expressed renewed hope that the incoming Obama administration will restore our country’s historic commitment to human rights and will expand our protections of the right to health.
jhutson is Chief Communications Officer of PHR, a human rights group based in Cambridge, MA