The Long View

by Dorothy Messenger

In October 1945, shortly after the end of World War II and at the time the charter of the United Nations was being signed, I was a young housewife in Denton, Texas.  We had just gone through the trauma of the war, and I remember the hopeful feeling that a peaceful world was on the way, and that the United Nations would make a difference.  For all these years since 1945, I have been a staunch supporter of that organization.  Some time after we moved to Edmond in 1992, I was delighted that there was an Oklahoma City chapter of the UNA-USA to which I could belong.
The UNA-USA mission, which draws me to want to help, is:

“We are dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations, strengthening the United Nations system, promoting constructive United States leadership in that system and achieving the goals of the United Nations charter.”

There are many things I like about being a member of our chapter.  I appreciate the fact that its membership includes persons of many ethnic backgrounds and persons of different religious faiths.  The membership is inter-generational and represents a variety of vocations and opinions.  I’m grateful that the UNA-USA affords me an opportunity to become better informed about the activities of the United Nations and the whole world scene.  It’s good to be a part of an organization where all the members obviously share a love of our nation and of the world and want to have a part in helping our nation to live up to its highest ideals.
Being a member of the UNA-USA is extremely important to me because it makes me feel I am part of a huge, centuries-old movement of humankind, a movement of people who are convinced that there are better ways than war for settling national disputes.   Even as long ago as 1795, according to an article I read about the League of Nations, Immanuel Kant had proposed the idea of a league of nations to control conflict and promote peace between nation states.  After the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, the Concert of Europe was developed in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European states and thus avoid war.  All through the years since those earlier days, there have been movements and organizations whose purpose has been to avoid war and to discover ways that the nations of the world can work together for the benefit of all. The road to a method of avoiding war has been a long one,  and I feel that the United Nations is our current hope.
I’m reminded of a meditation by Oscar Romero, a priest in El Salvador, who was shot and killed because of his work with, and protection of, the poor in a time of brutality and political upheaval in his country.  He reminds us that change is often not quick and that unswerving commitment will be required.  I’m quoting here a few lines from that meditation:
            It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. . . .
            This is what we are about:
            We plant seeds that one day will grow.
            We water seeds already planted, knowing that they
                        hold further promise.
            We lay foundations that will need further development.
            We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our
                        capabilities.
            We cannot do everything and there is a sense of
                        liberation in that.
            This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
            It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step
                        along the way. . . .
Being a member of UNA-USA helps me to feel that I am a part, even though just a small part, of this huge movement of humankind toward a peaceful, caring world community.
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Criticisms Continue

We’re committed to opposing Senate Bill 23 in the 2013 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. The proposed new law is built upon a false premise. If SB23 succeeds, it would result in some very pernicious consequences for the people of our state. It would prohibit state agencies, cities, counties, state universities and public libraries from investing in an array of resources from United Nations agencies and certain non-governmental organizations.

The first editorial opinion on Senate Bill 23 was published today by the Tulsa World. Here are some key excerpts:

It seems almost preposterous, but there are still people out there who sincerely believe there is a plot by the United Nations to take over the United States and evidently Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, is one of them. 
The latest conspiracy theory making the rounds on the Internet is the U.N.’s Agenda 21, which is seen by some, including Anderson, as a way for the U.N. to somehow gain control of our land and dictate how it can be used. 
Anderson plans to introduce Senate Bill 23, calling for a legal ban on city membership in groups tied to the Agenda 21 proposal….
Agenda 21 is a nonbinding document that is a comprehensive plan of global, national and local action to preserve the environment. It deals mostly with bike trails, mass transit, sustainable farming and energy conservation. That hardly sounds like a devious plan to take over the world…. 
We’d like to believe that the upcoming session of the Legislature would deal with the myriad of serious problems facing this state. If this legislation is any indication, that, sadly, is likely far too much to hope for.
Read more at the Tulsa World website. 


The next comment is from an engineer in our state’s aerospace industry. He offers his take on Senate Bill 23:

First, it goes against the Governor’s vision of Oklahoma’s technological future.  As an engineer in the aerospace industry, I rely on technical data from all over the world – including NATO and UN organizations – to keep Americans safe in the skies.  This whittles away at the capability we are trying to build.  We like it here, but this kind of “support” is disheartening.
Second, it flies in the face of the outstanding academic institutions we have here.  OSU agricultural research is world recognized.  In addition, we boast one of the best Engineering programs in this part of the country.  OU’s partnership with the National Severe Storms Lab has no other equal. Millions of dollars in research grants come here from around the world. This bill tells all of these institutions, “We don’t want you here because you are scientists.” If the bill were to pass as law, and defeated in appeals (I would expect constitutional concerns), our universities would be forbidden to access critical information they need to continue the amazing work they do.
Don’t forget this is also the center of the FAA universe with the Mike Monroney Aeronautical center.  The Air Force Logistics center is here.  The list of corporations employing educated technical professionals can go for pages.  Again, “We don’t want you here.”
Third, this is the OPPOSITE thing you would want to do if you didn’t trust, or were hostile to, international research.  You have to have academic peerage.  Researchers MUST be able to review other researcher’s works to ensure the science is accurate.  By banning this, you remove the ability of scientists to question it.  Note that none of these legislatures have much of anything to do with scientific careers, which is even more disheartening.
–James Beauchamp


Eric Heinze is a professor at the University of Oklahoma:

I am a professor and researcher of international relations, specifically international organizations and institutions, such as the United Nations. While I also have my opinions about the United Nations, it’s agenda, and efficacy in world politics, as an analyst and educator, the only way I can seek to advance knowledge and understanding of these institutions and how they operate — for good or bad — is if I am able to access the information that they produce.  The proposed legislation would seek to ban our state universities from purchasing a variety of research reports, datasets, and other information from entities tied to the United Nations, such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and scores of other UN-affiliated bodies that produce massive amounts of information on a variety of global issues. This would severely curtail access to this information by those studying and working on solutions to the world’s many problems, as well as stymie the advancement of knowledge about how international organizations are thought to affect world politics.  Such a law would be disastrous for the free flow of information, for the ability to produce knowledge, and would have detrimental effects on Oklahoma businesses operating in a global economy.
–Eric Heinze, Ph.D.

More Testimony

Following up on our article of December 20th (“Consequences“), we are using this space to publish reader comments on Senate Bill 23.

We’re inviting students, public employees, teachers, librarians, and members of the public to
tell us how potential limitations on access to United Nations reports and resources would effect
their pursuit of knowledge.

Our first comment is from a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma:

“I recently completed my doctoral dissertation on UN peacekeeping operations from 1991-2007 at the University of Oklahoma. Without access to the UN and other NGO’s data, through the Oklahoma Library and other resources, I would not have been able to complete this degree and research project. The UN and related subsidiaries have an immense amount of data and research ranging from security, health, climate and human rights issues. To limit our access and abilities to effectively share this knowledge is not only prohibitive to progress, it reverses it. As the United States continues to slide down the international rankings in a number of educational indices, you would think we would embrace access to valuable information, not restrict it.”
–Jarrett Jobe

Our friend Christiaan Morssink offers a few more considerations (“in no way in order of importance,” he says):

“a. American agricultural schools and farmers and  businesses are deeply involved and earning money via the FAO and its programs.
“b. Almost all graduate schools in the country use the UN System for research, internships, PhD dissertations, sabbatical programs, international conference planning and knowledge discrimination. Without the UN’s involvement around accreditation, how do you know which universities and which research to take seriously. How do you attract foreign students and foreign investments if you want to foresake the network that makes this all possible?
“c. The threat of health (care) crises worldwide is monitored by CDC, PAHO ( an arm of the WHO). We are deeply involved in worldwide prevention programs, including here at home that needs to rely on a global system. Stepping away from the UN on this point is like saying we can control viruses to respect our borders.
“d. Protection of  American journalists, promotion of democracy, export of American culture, including the promotion of tourism to the shores of Oklahoma (tongue in cheek) is in no small measure the work of UNESCO.

“In light of the interconnectedness of the economies of the world, the health care systems, the trade systems, the communication technology, the diplomacy requisites, etc. it is not only ignorant or stupid to declare the UN a ‘verboten’ entity, it is plain dangerous for the welfare of Oklahoma and the U.S. We are capable of being a really serious constructive leader in world affairs, especially in providing stewardship of this earth, but these anti-UN laws makes a mockery of that.”  
–Christiaan Morssink

Ron Burkard, a retired program manager who now lives in Oklahoma City, adds this comment:

“During my 40 year career in international development as an employee of both CARE and World Neighbors I have managed programs for U.N. agencies such as the World Food Program and UNICEF and have first-hand experience coordinating with those and other agencies such as the United Nations Development Program, World Health Organization and others, both in the nine countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa in which I lived and worked and in a number of others.  The world is a better place because of the United Nations and it’s various agencies.  While imperfect as all human creations, we need the U.N. and should be supporting, not attacking it.  I find it hard to understand what could possibly motivate clear-thinking Americans to be opposed to the U.N. and the high ideals for which it stands.”

–Ron Burkard

The Respect Diversity Foundation, well-known in Oklahoma, for its educational activities and extensive speakers bureau, has offered this statement:

“Human rights activists, civil rights leaders and other speakers for the Respect Diversity Foundation (RDF) gain valuable information through reports from UNESCO and other UN organizations.  It has been noted that often, after an RDF educator speaks to an assembly of middle and high school students, the bullying incidences go down.  Every form of information that helps our educators teach character building lessons is a good thing.  Let’s embrace the good work of the United Nations.” 
–Joan Korenblit
Executive Director
Respect Diversity Foundation

Klint Alexander, an attorney, expands our thinking on this subject to include a comment about the benefits that UN-affiliated organizations bring to the American business community:

“Regarding your anti-Agenda 21 measure, keep in mind that the WTO, the IMF (bailout central), the World Bank and WIPO are all UN-affiliated institutions.  Is it realistic for farmers or oil companies operating abroad to not order reports/summaries concerning trade restrictions in foreign countries, especially US-China trade disputes on currency manipulation, IP piracy, or dumping, or recent retaliatory sanctions imposed by the WTO against the EU for banning American hormone-treated beef? Do OK taxpayers wish to know whether the IMF is approving American tax dollars to bailout Greece, Ireland and possibly Spain? The World Bank’s dispute settlement arm – ICSID – is the number one place for multinational corps based in the US to go to resolve their investment disputes all over the world and by preference of American oil and gas investors to seek compensation when their assets are expropriated / nationalized in Venezuela or Africa. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a single place for a US patent holder to file a patent registration in multiple countries without having to go to each country to file, paying separate lawyers’ fees and registration fees for each country. 

“The List goes on and on …….” 

–Klint Alexander 

Katy Hansen points out that “Agenda 21,” the supposed reason for SB23, poses no threat to Oklahoma communities:

“’Agenda 21′ was formulated and adopted 20 years ago by 178 nations who came together to consider how to improve our environment. It includes goals, objectives and suggested activities.  This document is neither an international law nor a treaty or even a resolution.  It is not legally binding.  Agenda 21 has no legal authority or precedent over any state or local government or over any citizen. American diplomats helped negotiate the document, and President George H. W. Bush accepted it on behalf of the United States.”

–Katy Hansen

Did You Know? 

In the library catalog at Oklahoma State University’s Edmon Low Library, there are over 4,000 books and articles related to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 

A search of the online catalog of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries yields 1,275 entries related to the UN’s World Health Organization

An author search of the University of Oklahoma’s online library catalog shows nearly 700 books and articles by the World Meteorological Organization

Consequences

In previous articles, we have shown how Senate Bill 23 — Senator Anderson’s proposal to limit access to knowledge and resources related to Sustainable Development — is based on a false premise. (For example, see our article on “The UN and Property Rights”).

Today, in this article, we tackle the question: What consequences will Oklahoma suffer if Senate Bill 23 passes?

To begin this analysis, let’s take a look at the terms of the bill that Senator Anderson proposes to put into law. Here’s the operative language in Section 1, Paragraph C, of his measure:

“C. Since the United Nations has accredited and enlisted numerous non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies relative to Agenda 21 around the world, the State of Oklahoma and all political subdivisions thereof shall not enter into any agreement, expend any sum of money, or receive funds, contract services or give financial aid to or from any non-governmental or inter-governmental organization as defined in Agenda 21.”

There are two troubling aspects of this language.

One is the poorly-defined scope of the prohibition on commerce with “non-governmental or inter-governmental organizations defined in Agenda 21.” We can be fairly certain that UN agencies are included in the breadth of “inter-governmental organizations” that are targeted by this legislation. But, what about the non-governmental organizations that the bill refers to? Exactly which NGO’s are “defined” in Agenda 21?

In this copy of Agenda 21, the value of NGO’s is recognized in Chapter 27. (For example, there is an acknowledgement that, “Independence is a major attribute of non-governmental organizations”). There is also a general reference to “Partners for Sustainable Development.” But, we don’t find a simple list of the numerous NGO’s that have supposedly been “accredited and enlisted” by the United Nations. Does such a list exist?

The other troubling aspect of Paragraph C is that Oklahomans would lose access to so many valuable resources if this prohibition is enacted.

Think about it.

Oklahoma State University boasts a world-class College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, which has emerged as one of the top agricultural institutions in the United States. Should OSU be prohibited from “expending any sum of money” to purchase and receive reports from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization?

The School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma is the largest such program in the nation. It is in the top ten of all atmospheric sciences graduate programs in the nation. It enjoys a solid reputation for scholarship and teaching. Should OU be prohibited from purchasing and receiving reports from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization?

The Oklahoma Department of Labor strives to enforce our state’s Child Labor Law — a mission that is similar to the International Labor Organization, a UN agency. Should State Department of Labor employees be prohibited from attending conferences that are sponsored by the ILO?

Here’s testimony from a recent graduate student at OSU:

“As a recent graduate student from Oklahoma State University it is truly disheartening to hear about the legislation that prohibits use of state funds to access UN resources.  It is imperative for us to take action against a measure that would hinder educational resources vital to many student’s academic success.  I have personally, relied on documents from the United Nations Development Index, the World Health Organization and the UN Library to provide imitable facts about infectious disease, impoverished communities and developmental issues relevant to my area of study. It is this knowledge that helps bring awareness and an understanding of real world problems.”
–Juliet Abdeljawad

In a very real sense, Senate Bill 23 has an anti-science aspect to it — and it has an anti-knowledge flavor, as well.

If SB23 becomes law, it will make it more difficult for state and local employees to learn from global experts. It will put Oklahoma students at a disadvantage compared to learners in other states. Ultimately, the citizens of our state will suffer the consequences.

The United Nations Association of the USA has a high regard for the sound judgment and the professionalism of the state, county and municipal government employees who serve our state.

We believe that the Oklahoma Legislature should not try to micro-manage our cities, counties, and universities with a sledge hammer. Rather, the members of the Legislature should trust our public service professionals to faithfully perform the jobs they carry out for the people. Their work should be judged by results. Senate Bill 23 should be rejected.

Do You Have Testimony to Offer?

Have you used resources from the United Nations to help you in school, work, etc.?
Tell us your story. We will publish it here.

Contact:
Bill Bryant, President
Oklahoma City Chapter
United Nations Association of the USA
405-760-5322
wildbill73107@cox.net

Anti-UN Measure Pre-Filed in Oklahoma Legislature

Senate Bill 23 Would Prohibit Universities and State Agencies from Purchasing Reports or Resources from the World Meteorological Organization, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNESCO, the World Food Programme, and Any Other “Non-Governmental or Inter-Governmental Organization Defined in Agenda 21”

Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) has pre-filed a bill in the Oklahoma State Senate that would prohibit cities, counties, and other public agencies from pursuing sustainable development activities that can be traced to the United Nations’ Agenda 21 initiative.

The measure is Senate Bill 23, and a copy of the bill can be found here …

http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2013-14%20INT/SB/SB23%20INT.PDF

… The bill is virtually identical to one passed in the 2012 session of the Alabama legislature.

Paragraph C of Senate Bill 23 would prohibit state and local agencies from purchasing any resources or contracting for services from a broad array of international organizations.

It appears that Senate Bill 23 was drafted in cooperation with Rep. Sally Kern, who convened an interim study on this topic earlier this year.

Senator Anderson has served in the Oklahoma Legislature since 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 and 2012 without opposition.

Watch this blog for further information and analysis of SB 23.

To join with other Oklahomans who are opposed to Senate Bill 23, please join the Jeane Kirpatrick Society.

Thanks!

The Jeane Kirkpatrick Society

Join our Award-Winning Advocacy Team

In 2012, our chapter of the UN Association was recognized for our efforts to advocate for American leadership in the United Nations. We scored a great success when the Oklahoma Legislature failed to pass an anti-UN resolution that was introduced by State Rep. Charles Key.

In 2013, we are expecting more challenges and opportunities.

For example, we’ll have a chance to advocate for ratification of several human rights treaties that are languishing in the U.S. Senate. The Senate’s recent failure to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was widely criticized (with good reason). There is a possibility that the treaty will be brought up for reconsideration in the 2013 session of Congress. We will call upon Senator Coburn and Senator Inhofe to faithfully represent the good sense viewpoint of Oklahomans — rather than the narrow philosophy which has animated their votes so far.

Meanwhile, at the State Capitol, State Rep. Sally Kern has threatened to introduce a bill aimed at squashing state and local government efforts to pursue sustainable development activities — such as those described in the UN’s “Agenda 21” initiative. Her bill would have dire consequences for state agencies struggling to respond to drought, disease, and other environmental stresses. We will lead an advocacy campaign aimed at educating our state legislators about the good work of the United Nations and the many ways it contributes to our health and well-being right here in Oklahoma.

If you aren’t familiar with Agenda 21, we urge you to read this “Short History of the UN’s Efforts to Protect our Future” … HERE.

We’re building an active advocacy team — a capable group of volunteers who are prepared to contact our elected representatives with phone calls, letters, emails, etc. We have dubbed our advocacy team the “Jeane Kirkpatrick Society” (named after the first woman to serve as our country’s Ambassador to the United Nations).

To read a short biography about the life of Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, see our UNA-OKC website … HERE.

Are you interested in serving in our Jeane Kirkpatrick Society? It doesn’t cost anything to join. You can sign up here …

Constant Contact Survey Form

Members and friends of the United Nations Association are welcome to become a part of the Jeane Kirkpatrick Society.

We need you! 

The UN and Property Rights

by Bill Bryant, President
Oklahoma City Chapter
United Nations Association of the USA

A small minority of our neighbors has waged an intense battle against the efforts of the United Nations to support the sustainable development of our planet. In particular, they have keyed their criticism on the UN’s Agenda 21 initiative.

The Anti-UN Crowd has been small but vocal. Their opinions seem to be inflamed by a dysphoric vision of the UN as a tyrannical superpower bent on world domination. They see a monster where none exists.

Sadly and incredibly, as we have seen, they have been able to influence policy makers at the state and local level. The latest example is an Alabama law that received unanimous approval in the 2012 session of the Alabama legislature. Gov. Bentley signed the law last June.

The premise of the Alabama law is an unfounded assumption that Agenda 21 is designed to limit or destroy property rights and to take away the due process rights that all of us enjoy. You can read more about the Alabama law here.

I don’t know where this assumption comes from. The United Nations was founded upon the stated goal of reaffirming faith in fundamental human rights, of promoting social progress, and achieving “better standards of life in larger freedom.”

The issue of property rights has been addressed repeatedly by the United Nations. There is a long-standing historical context for the UN’s commitment to protect the fundamental right of people to own and use property.

The historical context for this commitment has three chapters.

Chapter One is the world’s common experience of the brutal suppression of human rights by the Axis Powers in World War Two. You know about the history of this era. The confiscation of property by the Nazis is well-documented. For example, you can refer to this book: “Robbing the Jews: The Confiscation of Jewish Property in the Holocaust, 1933–1945,” by Martin Dean. See a synopsis here.

At the conclusion of the war, after the signing of the UN Charter, the member states of the United Nations drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration was the thoughtful and deliberate reaction of the nations of the world to the “barbarous acts” of the Second World War which, in the words of the Declaration, “have outraged the conscience of mankind.”

Among the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is this one:

“Article 17.
” (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with   others.
” (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”

This Declaration by the United Nations has been constantly remembered and referred to in subsequent UN documents (even in the Agenda 21 report).

Chapter Two is the history of de-colonization that occurred in the years immediately after the founding of the United Nations. One of the common issues for many newly-independent nations was how to deal with the legacy of property confiscation by the colonial powers.

Within this context, it is easy to understand how UN member states and UN agencies have remained focused on the importance of property rights — because so many UN nations have suffered from the effects of past abuses. This is a topic that we in Oklahoma can relate to, particularly with regard to the property rights of Native American people. (Think of Angie Debo’s celebrated book, And Still the Waters Run).

Chapter Three is the UN’s more recent concern for the development of poor nations — an effort that has focused particularly on the empowerment of women and families. In this regard, experts in economic development have noted that property rights have an important relationship to poverty reduction. For example, a 2009 paper published by the UN’s Department of Economic & Social Affairs has this statement:

“Property rights do play a fundamental role, not only in increasing economic productivity, but also in raising the social standing and dignity of those who have them. Strengthening the property rights of poor people can therefore make important contributions to poverty reduction. Not surprisingly, the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor recommended property rights as the second pillar of legal empowerment, after access to justice and the rule of law.”

(Source: DESA Working Paper No. 91, “Property Rights for Poverty Reduction?” by Ruth Meinzen-Dick)

All of this serves to illustrate that the United Nations has a strong historical commitment to the protection of individual property rights. This commitment is not in any way diminished by the UN’s goals related to sustainable development.

The 2013 session of the Oklahoma Legislature will convene next month. We anticipate that an Anti-UN measure will be filed like the one that passed in Alabama. We’ll know more in the next 3 – 4 weeks.

We’re prepared for a vigorous debate. In the meantime, please consider joining our advocacy group, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Society, and you’ll be among the first to be notified when action is required.

Thanks!

Our 2012 Human Rights Day Proclamation

Whereas, the United States of America is a proud supporter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

Whereas, American Presidents since Harry S. Truman have issued proclamations regarding the celebration of Human Rights Day on December 10th of each year; and

Whereas, President Barack Obama has called upon the people of the United States to mark December 10th as Human Rights Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities; and

Whereas, President George W. Bush encouraged all Americans to “celebrate the rights bestowed upon all by our Creator;” and

Whereas, President Ronald Reagan observed in 1985 that the United States “will never cease to be in the forefront of the noble battle for human rights;” and

Whereas, the State of Oklahoma has been blessed with a rich tradition of great defenders of human rights such as Chief Standing Bear, John Hope Franklin, Governor Henry Bellmon, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Clara Luper, former Secretary of State Hannah Atkins, and many others; and

Whereas, the citizens of Oklahoma should welcome the opportunity to participate in all activities related to Human Rights Day;

NOW, THEREFORE, We the members and friends of the United Nations Association proclaim December 10, 2012 as

“Human Rights Day” 

in the State of Oklahoma

Human Rights Award Winners Announced

13 Champions are Recognized, including 3 Members of the United Nations Association


December 10, 2012 — The Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance has announced the winners of its 2012 Human Rights Award. The winners include:

1. Clyde Snow
2. Roosevelt Milton
3. Father Paul Zahler
4  David Puente
5  Bill Bryant
6. Christine Byrd
7. Joan Korenblit
8. Michael Korenblit
9  Blanca Sumner
10. Hodrick Steele
11. Father Stanley Rother, Posthumous
12. Hans Brisch, Posthumous
13. Iris V. Santos Rivera, Posthumous

The list is headed by well-known forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, the namesake of the Clyde Snow Social Justice Award that is given biennially by the OU Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

During a long and celebrated career, Dr. Snow worked tirelessly to investigate the deaths of people who were victimized by violent regimes operating in violation of basic human rights. In places like Argentina, Croatia, Colombia, and Guatemala, Dr. Snow helped to recover humanity for thousands of victims and their survivors.

From the website of the Clyde Snow Social Justice Award: “In 1992 Clyde Snow served in Geneva as a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission…. Dr. Snow’s 1998 testimony [regarding war crimes in the former Yugoslavia] was the first testimony given by a forensic expert witness before a UN War Crimes Tribunal.”

Here is a partial list of other notable award winners: 

Roosevelt Milton — President Emeritus of the Oklahoma City and Oklahoma chapters of the NAACP.

Father Stanley Rother, a Catholic priest and missionary to Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Father Rother’s memory is celebrated in print and film. He was murdered by a death squad on July 28, 1981.

Father Paul Zahler, an internationally-known advocate for people with disabilities. He is the founder and director of the National Institute on Developmental Delays, which has served persons with disabilities of all ages for more than 30 years. Father Zahler is also a faculty member at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee.

David Puente, a leader in local efforts to restore the Manuel Perez Park at Sw 14th & Harvey Ave. in Oklahoma City. The park, which has suffered from vandalism in recent years, is named for Manuel Perez, who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. Puente is a recognized leader of the hispanic community in Oklahoma City.

Hans Brisch, Chancellor Emeritus of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Bill Bryant, president of the Oklahoma City Chapter of the United Nations Association.

Joan and Michael Korenblit, co-founders of the Respect Diversity Foundation, whose mission is to teach tolerance and respect for all people. The Respect Diversity Foundation helps students, teachers, parents and others to explore diversity through the arts. It also helps to promote Holocaust Education to a national audience.

Joan Korenblit serves as a volunteer director for the OKC Chapter of the United Nations Association. She and her husband, Mike, are members of UNA-USA — as is Bill Bryant.

Mr. Bryant expressed his personal appreciation for the recognition represented by the award. “I am pleased to accept this award as an advocate for the good work of the United Nations, which has been a champion of human rights for people around the world since 1945.”

“The United Nations Association of the USA seeks to promote American leadership in the UN, including American leadership in efforts to guarantee the basic human rights of all people as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“The members of the UN Association are proud to work with the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance in support of these goals,” Bryant said.

A ceremony to announce the recipients of the 2012 Human Rights Award was held today at the State Capitol in the Chamber of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.