September 1994 Home   Newsletters

February 1995

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President's Message (Jim Koshi)
League Celebrates
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Local League News
Corporate Contributors Given Thanks
Convention '95
National Board Member is Coming
Legislative Issues (Evelyn Bender)
Action Alert
Leaguers in Action
Getting Online with Political Action
Legislative Access
United Nations
Population: A Problem Everywhere
Health Study Opportunities
Energy Savings
Recycling in Hawai'i
Earth Day

United Nations

Human Rights Day was recognized by the United Nations Association of the United States of America, Hawai'i Division, with a luncheon and speaker. Dr. George Kent of the Political Science Department of the University of Hawai'i spoke on the rights of children.

Dr. Kent has worked in and studied this area extensively. He believes that the issue must be addressed on a global basis. He focused on malnutrition, noting that each year, throughout the world, 13 million children die of nutrition-related causes. Malnutrition, which is defined as the failure to grow adequately, exists in the United States-in many cases related to the fact that one-fifth of the children are at or below the poverty level.

Viewing the issue as one with a child in the center of concentric circles, the parents next, and extending to a global perspective, Dr. Kent noted that although nutrition is included in the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948, the subject has not been addressed specifically by organizations within the U.N. or by nation-states until recently. He feels that there is no articulated legal responsibility regarding nutrition and without this, nations do not look to addressing the subject beyond their own borders -- if that.

Dr. Kent believes that laws are needed to establish rights to adequate nutrition so that people can claim those rights in order to obtain service. International organizations need to work together and pay attention to nutritional needs, he stated. The United States should lead this effort; it can use the successful Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program which focuses on education, rather than a social service model, for its delivery of service. Mexico is currently using this approach with success in a program entitled "Front for the Right to Food." Dr. Kent hopes that with a legal system of rights in place, the courts can be a life affirming instrument rather than a punitive one. To those who believe that these matters which revolve around the family should be assured, the declarations affirm the role of parents and the responsibility of the family toward the child.

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