Arts and Humanities Local News

UN Association to Hold Forum on Human Trafficking

The Louisville Chapter of the United Nations Association is holding forum on human trafficking this weekend. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has details.

Many people call it modern-day slavery. And on Sunday panelists who work with victims of this crime and others who educate lawmakers and the public on the issue will participate in the forum.

Matt Hanka, president of the Louisville chapter, says human trafficking is an issue in our own region.

“About 25 percent of the victims of human trafficking are here in the southeast United States,” he says. “Mainly they’re women, young women, and many of them are working in restaurants, hotels, domestics or in the sex industry.”

Hanka says the panel will include people who work with victims of trafficking, including Marissa Castellano of Catholic Charities of Louisville.

“Marissa’s going to look at it from a local perspective,” he says. “She provides educational programs on human trafficking victims. She works with victims themselves. She works with trying to identify potential victims of human trafficking.”

Hanka also says the recession can exacerbate the problem.

“It’s taking advantage of a unique situation— economy’s bad, if I need some labor, I need some help these are some channels that people can use,” he says. “In some instances, they may get paid as a way of bargaining their entry into the United States, or their entry into Kentucky, or their entry into Louisville.”

The US government estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked to this country annually.

The forum is at 3 p.m., Sunday, at Spalding University’s Egan Leadership Center.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Local UN Association Shows Film for Human Rights Day

A Louisville group is joining others worldwide in marking today’s Human Rights Day. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The United Nations General Assembly designated each December 10th Human Rights Day in 1950. And this year, the Louisville chapter of the United Nations Association is recognizing the occasion by showing The Reckoning, a film about the International Criminal Court. The court came into being in 2002 after 60 countries ratified a treaty outlining the court’s function. Since then it has opened investigations into human rights situations in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan’s Darfur region.

TheReckoning2Matt Hankin is president of the local UN Association chapter. He says the film shows a court doing difficult work with scarce resources.

“The film follows the work of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo for three years across four different continents as his team lays out warrants,” he says.

Hankin also says it’s a suspenseful telling of a young and landmark court.

“The criminal court officially came into effect once it got 60 ratifications in 2002, so it’s nascent and very new,” he says. “And so it’s chronicling a lot of that.”

Hankin says the film shows a need for the court, which was supported by the United States under President Bill Clinton but the country has yet to ratify the treaty.

TheReckoning“The United States should be a part of something that they helped form,” he says. “In 1998, in the Rome Conference to create the Rome Statute, David Schaffer at the time was Bill Clinton’s ambassador at large for war crimes, was very involved in putting it together.”

A showing of the documentary, which was presented at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is free and starts at 7 this evening at Bellarmine University’s Horrigan Hall.

TOP: Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (Credit: Skylight Pictures) BOTTOM: Professor Pilo inspects a skull in the killing fields of Bogoro, Ituri, eastern Congo. (Credit: Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos)

Arts and Humanities Local News

Groups Praise US Election to Human Rights Council

Some local groups are praising this week’s election of the United States to the United Nation’s top human rights group. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The UN General Assembly elected the US to UN Human Rights Council Tuesday. In 2006, the Bush administration refused to join the group, saying it included repressive governments.

Representatives from the Louisville chapter of the United Nations Association and Presbyterian Church U.S.A. say US work on the council can help improve human rights worldwide.

Sara Lisherness helps oversee the Presbyterian Church’s work in relief and development in 87 countries.

“Even though the Human Rights Council is a less than perfect venue, it is the only venue right now in which the conversations about protecting the human rights of people is being engaged by the nation’s of the world,” Lisherness says.

Matt Hanka of the United Nations Association says working through the UN always involves a careful balancing act of supporting human rights without undermining state sovereignty.

Lisherness says membership on the council means more action from the U.S.

“We do have a responsibility to continue to confront and challenge that brokenness and that sin; challenge those nations that are flagrant abusers of human rights and continue to press for justice and a greater equality,” she says.

The United Nations Association’s Matt Hanka says the UN is a human institution with flaws, but that the council is a key forum for addressing abuses. He says US involvement in the council is one of the best ways to improve the group’s effectiveness.