NYU Sponsors Commission Headed by Gordon Brown To Update Universal Declaration on Human Rights
Commission to Include Public Figures, Human Right Leaders, and Public Intellectuals; Commission’s Findings to Be Presented to the United Nations in 2015
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Newswise — Does the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, crafted in the aftermath of World War II, continue to serve well in a world in which political and religious extremism, climate change, globalization and other trans-national issues have come to dominate the international agenda?
That is the key question that will be taken up by a Global Citizenship Commission of leading public figures, human rights leaders, and public intellectuals led by The Right Honourable Gordon Brown, MP, former UK Prime Minister and a Distinguished Global Leader in Residence at NYU, which is sponsoring the Commission’s work. The Commission will reexamine the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and, taking into account the myriad global developments since its passing over 60 years ago, formulate a report that will suggest revisions or ways of updating this fundamental document.
The Commission’s inaugural meeting will take place on Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Edinburgh. Speaking at the event will be education and women’s’ rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai, whose activism on universal education and women’s rights brought her into direct conflict with the Taliban, which attempted to assassinate her in October 2012.
Mr. Brown, who serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Global Education, developed the idea for the Commission after convening a series of high-level dialogues at NYU over 2010-11 that explored the moral and ethical underpinnings for the creation of a global civil society.
Mr. Brown said: “The debate around ethics and the protection of human rights is as important today as it was in 1948, when the Universal Declaration was signed.
“This Commission brings together global leaders in the field of ethics and citizenship, and crucially allows members of the public to join the debate. After all, it is their rights of global citizens that this historic document enshrines.
"Global citizenship is at the heart of the UN Secretary-General's Education First initiative which he launched last year, and I look forward to relaying our discussions to him before the end of 2015."
“NYU is proud to provide the support necessary to convene this talented and experienced group of Commissioners from across the world, and is especially excited to be working closely with such an outstanding and learned leader as Gordon Brown. In an era in which discussion of the great challenges of our times often bog down in partisanship, universities – with their tradition of free inquiry – serve a difficult-to-replicate role as a forum for thoughtful discussion. We think NYU -- with its unequalled global presence, its network of academic sites, and its diverse group of students and faculty – is especially well suited to support the Commission’s activities,” NYU President John Sexton said.
The Commission will bring together distinguished leaders from across many sectors—politics, the academy, international public interest organizations, business, religious institutions, law, and philanthropy. The commissioners have been selected from among the highest levels of their professions that will each bring unique perspective to the relevant areas of the Commission’s work. In addition to Mr. Brown, the members of the Commission include:
• K. Anthony Appiah, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University;
• Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma; Member of the Burmese House of Representatives;
• Zaniab Hawa Bangura, United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict;
• Laurel Bellows, Principal, The Bellows Law Group, P.C. & Immediate Past President, American Bar Association;
• Nicolas Beggruen, Chairman, Berggruen Holdings;
• Paul Boghossian, Silver Professor of Philosophy, New York University;
• Derek Bok, 300th Anniversary University Professor; Professor of Law; President Emeritus, Harvard University;
• Sissela Bok, Senior Visiting Fellow, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard University;
• Mohamed El Baradei, Former Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency;
• Craig Calhoun, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science;
• Andrew Forrest, Philanthropist; Non-executive Chairman, Fortescue Metals Group;
• Ronald George, 27th Chief Justice of California (retired);
• His Excellency John Kufuor, Former President of Ghana; Graça Machel, Former First Lady of South Africa and Mozambique;
• Graça Machel, Former First Lady of South Africa and Mozambique
• Kate O’Regan, Chairperson, International Justice Council of the United Nations; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women;
• Emma Rothschild; Jeremy and Jane Knowles Professor of History; Director, Center for History and Economics, Harvard University;
• Robert Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former United States Secretary of the Treasury;
• Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi, United Kingdom;
• Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University;
• Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum;
• Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor; Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University;
• John Sexton, president, NYU;
• Robert Shrum, Senior Fellow, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University;
• Jeremy Waldron, University Professor, New York University School of Law; Chichele Professor of Social & Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford University;
• Joseph Weiler, President, European University Institute;
• The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.
The intellectual underpinnings of the Commission’s work will be framed by the efforts of a Philosophers’ Committee, established under the auspices of and funded by NYU’s Global Institute for Advanced Study; the Philosophers’ Committee will be led by NYU/Oxford University Professor Jeremy Waldron.. Diane C. Yu, Deputy President of NYU, will serve as the Commission’s Executive Director.
The inaugural meeting of the Global Commission will be held on 18 October 2013 at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. The Commission will hold public meetings beginning on 19 October 2013 that will allow members of the public—including from the civic, academic, and at-large communities—to enter their comments related to the work of the Commission into its formal record. This event will be held in the University of Edinburgh’s historic McEwan Hall and will be open to the public, though advance tickets and RSVPs are required.
University of Edinburgh Principal Timothy O’Shea said: “The University is delighted to welcome this important Commission to Edinburgh. How we understand and promote human rights is a matter of global significance and it is a privilege to host the first public hearing of the Commission.”
The inaugural meeting of the Commission has been made possible through the generous support and encouragement of the Carnegie UK Trust, based in nearby Dunfermline, the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, which is celebrating its centennial this year with a number of special events.
Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of Carnegie UK Trust, the key supporter of the public event, said: “The theme of wellbeing lies at the heart of the work of our Trust, and it motivated our founder, Andrew Carnegie, to leave his fortune to improve the welfare of society one hundred years ago.
“We are delighted to be supporting such an ambitious and timely event. It will bring together global leaders in ethics and citizenship to review and revitalize the relevance of human rights around the world.”
The Commission plans to engage in its work over the course of the next two years, with meetings and public hearings set to take place in cities across the world. The tentative plan for future meetings and hearings is as follows:
● Spring 2014: Bonn, Germany
● Fall 2014: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
● Spring 2015: Asia
● Fall 2015: New York, USA
Following its meetings, the Commission intends to present its findings to the United Nations at the end of 2015.
For New York University:
Diane C. Yu, Executive Director, Global Citizenship Commission
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For the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown:
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For the University of Edinburgh:Ranald Leask, International Press & PR Officer
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For the Carnegie UK Trust:
Kirsty Anderson or Martin Allen, Grayling PR
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