Human rights training workshop sponsored by University center

Liz Kohman

Peoples – with an “s” – denotes an individual nation of people. People – without the “s” – is the plural of person.

While semantic arguments might not seem directly related to human rights issues, the difference between the two words was discussed during a five-day workshop co-sponsored by the University’s Human Rights Center and the Stanley Foundation.

But the training was more than a discussion of semantics. The group of 30 participants from around the nation learned about other aspects of human rights.

The peoples-versus-people issue came out during a discussion on indigenous rights and the language used in an international declaration on the rights of indigenous people.

Elisabeth Garrett, a field representative with the International Indian Treaty Council, described the use of people over peoples as “racism at its most subtle form.”

Workshop participants – who were doctors, lawyers, public health educators, activists and teachers – nodded and verbally agreed as they heard about issues relating to indigenous rights.

The training session, in its second year at the University, is designed to give participants a background on human rights issues and the skills to teach about human rights in their communities.

Participants learned about the history of human rights and discussed different aspects of human rights, such as health, environment, racism, social and economic rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and gay rights.

Kat Rodriguez, an activist from Tucson, Ariz., said she came to the training because it “seemed like a cool opportunity.”

She added that the training gave her some basic facts and a better understanding of human rights issues. Rodriguez plans to use what she learned during the training to work with farm workers in Florida.

Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, co-director of the Human Rights Center, said the participants were selected out of 120 applications and have committed to teach at least one training session in their own communities.

The Human Rights Center offers field opportunities and training for volunteers and professionals and creates training manuals for people teaching about human rights. The center also has the largest human rights Web library in the world, with documents translated into five languages.