VWC goes to Geneva!

Hi all!
Mar Gerisch here- and I am getting REALLY excited about going to Geneva tomorrow! I have finally finished packing (I think--or rather- I HOPE!) and am reviewing various resources from our own policy committee as well as from NESRI and the other Human Rights activists who are going!

My roommate is Deborah, from LA. She is involved in the Human right to Housing campaing and their organizations out there has had manyt successes!

It is very lucky that we were assigned to be roommates, as we appear to be the only members of the delegation who are there on behalf of social and economic rights. I was thinking about this..some of the other delegates represent political prisoner issues, capital punishment and cruel and unusual punishment, or are involved with the push to get the US to sign on to various UN treaties or agreements- particularly the ones against torture, against violence against women, rights of indigenous peoples and protection of children. Why WOULDN'T the US sign onto these things? It is really beyond comprehension! But it occurs to me that if everyone were healthy, well fed and had adequate wages and adequate housing, their dignity would be restored and perhaps they would be better able to focus on more wide-spread or global issues. If you don't have to worry about not having medical care for your family or where your next meal is coming from, it is a lot easier to be concerned about global warming, political prisoners and other issues which may be the focus outside of your own community. So...it seems that social and economic rights may be just the ticket to getting the people of our country to feel more comfortable joining in grass roots solidarity to change the entire world and make it more peaceful . Just a thought.

I will be leaving for Geneva tomorrow at 8AM from Albany- then on to a 5 hour lay-over at Dulles. I'm bring crossword puzzles and a good book! Then we will arrive in Geneva at 6:45 AM their time.

The first thing in Geneva- before orientation is to get our UN credentials. The Urban Justice League has gotten clearance for mine. I was a little concerned for a while their that my FBI jacket from the student activist days would concern them (just kidding!) but I guess its ok!

I am told there is a computer at the UN that we can use to get on the internet, so I will try to post when I am over there. I don't have a laptop, but I know Kate from NESRI will also be there and does have one, so at least when she gets there (not until Wed) I KNOW I will be able to post more!


We arrived yesterday in Geneva- at 6AM Geneva time (1AM) and started the day! So many wonderful people and opportunities. My rusty french is coming back to me, and i had an unintended "walking tour" of the city when i got lost, but it was a GREAT day! Finally found out how to use the busses!

Learned that Denmark, Sweden and Cuba are very interested in Healthcare. i am lobbying to try to get them to do interventions at the US review.

Great Side-Event on Health issues surrounding marginalized poppulations, and agreed with Amnesty International, Woodhole Freedom Foundation, Michigan Centers for Reproductive Rights and the Human Rights Network that they will supply us with letters of endorsement to present to our legislators about universal healthcare as a human right, and how it would benefit ALL of their organizations if Vermont could lead the way!!! Very exciting!

got to go to another side event, but I will try to check in later-

Almost forgot to mention a wonderful side event on housing as a human right, and the film which was presented by Kyle (filmmaker) and featuring two NESRI folks. And my roommate Deborah's prsentation on GREAT things LA is doing in housing.

A UN Human Rights comm member metioned that the US is coming to this review with "enormous hypocrisy" thinking that they are a leader in the field when they will not even ratify the human rights treaty initiated by the efforts (in the 40's) of Elanor Roosevelt and actually signed by Jimmy Carter. But not ratified. Therefore, it is not the "law of the land" BUT it is still illegal under international law for the US to do anything that directly contravenes the treaty they have signed. Yet they do it everyday. We have our work cut out for us, but we CAN do it, with the solidarty of so many wonderful organizations also endorsing our campaigns! I am becoming mofre convinced of this possibility daily!