by Kristen Ku
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 15, 2023
On Wednesday, November 15, the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Belize City hosted a forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The forum, which highlighted the enduring legacy of the declaration and its impact on contemporary human rights challenges, was organized by the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in conjunction with United Nations agencies, and was aimed at formulating recommendations to promote and protect human rights in Belize. The day was packed with discussions on gender equity, climate resilience, and the protection of vulnerable populations.
Minister Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, a key speaker, emphasized the dual nature of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and the importance of a united front to address human rights issues.
She told reporters following the forum, “I’m just very happy that this forum is taking place today,” and praised Justice Antoinette Moore’s lecture for shedding light on the unsung contributors to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The minister also acknowledged the continuing struggles various community groups face, reinforcing the need for ongoing advocacy and reform, particularly for the LGBT community, the disabled, and the elderly.
Senator Janelle Chanona, Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, discussed the forum’s role in promoting comprehensive discussions on human rights. “It’s really about trying to ventilate some of these conversations. The conversations will be difficult at times, but it’s most important for us to have those conversations, so that we can look at how the state can work to help to build on that, and try to identify that through the caucus, so that we can make those recommendations,” she stated, highlighting the often overlooked struggles within Belizean society, from discrimination in healthcare to limitations in educational access for refugee children.
Senator Chanona called for a dynamic approach to advancing human rights, recognizing the evolving nature of rights and the state’s responsibility to safeguard and promote them.
The forum included a series of panels featuring speakers like House Speaker Valerie Woods and Sheena Zuniga, who moderated discussions on LGBTQ+ inclusiveness, climate justice, and the societal integration of people with diverse abilities.
The day concluded with the signing of a pledge, which was aimed at setting a course for the enhancement of human rights in the future.