Crosscut Tout: International Human Rights Day

The University of Washington celebrates the day by highlighting the work of students on the issue.

The University of Washington celebrates the day by highlighting the work of students on the issue.

The New York Times reports that an apparatchik in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Ding Xiaowen, was outraged because U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman expressed interest in dissident and now Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Washington should "cease using human rights as an excuse to 'meddle' in Chinese internal affairs," Ding said (thank you, WikiLeaks).

To bastardize Jefferson, a little meddling, now and then, is a good thing.

We've seen this movie before. The "internal affairs" canard echoes the old Soviet line about Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky, and other prisoners of conscience. Human rights are by definition universal. No country, including the United States, can hide behind the "meddle" smokescreen.

There are few places better to mark the 62nd Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights than at the University of Washington. As Justice William O. Douglas wrote nearly 60 years ago, "(The UW's) great mission is to help build an intellectual nexus between West and East..." The takeaway from this year's anniversary: The Universal Declaration is dead without works.

If you go: From 4 to 6 p.m. Friday (Dec. 10), the University of Washington School of Law, in conjunction with the University of Washington Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) will honor International Human Rights Day by highlighting examples of engagement with human rights through research, service, advocacy, and activism by UW students and student groups. The event is at the UW's William Gates Hall. For more information, see the UW Center for Human Rights website.

(Disclosure: The writer advocated with the legislature for the creation of the UWCHR.)


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson