2007 Human Rights Convocation, The U.S. in World Human Rights: Where Do You Stand?

Human rights leaders, educators and advocates from various organizations will convene at Manchester Community College to provide international perspectives on the current state of global human rights. This historic event will feature two distinguished keynote speakers: Barbara Masekela, South African Ambassador to the United States and Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Senior Director for Strategic Planning and External Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

The convocation is organized by a consortium of organizations, including the University of Connecticut Regional Campuses, Connecticut Community Colleges, and the UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights. The main objectives of the convocation are to: raise awareness about the meaning of global human rights and to inspire participants and attendees to engage in human rights work in their communities.

Masekela and Bibbins Sedaca’s participation signifies the importance of discussing human rights issues, especially in light of South Africa’s much admired model of democratic dispensation informed by the principle of equality for all people.

The topics that will be covered during the event includes: American Foreign Policy and Africa, Human Trafficking, Establishing a Model for Human Rights Service Learning Opportunities for Students, College Models for Student Action and Activism in Human Rights, U.S. Policy and Global Human Rights: Individual Responses and Individual Impact, American Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Women for Peace: Lysistrata and Cindy Sheehan, Immigration Issues: Latin America, Human Rights Curriculum within One Small Community College and Assessing Collateral Damage: Domestic Violence, Armed Forces and Militarization.

Masekela worked with the African National Congress (ANC) Observer Mission to the United Nations, helping in building the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. In 1982, Masekela left the United States to work full time at the ANC headquarters in Lusaka. She was one of the founding members of the ANC Department of Arts and Culture and was appointed ANC Secretary of Arts and Culture, where she served for seven years. After the release of Nelson Mandela, she joined his office as Chief of Staff, a position she held until 1994. During that time she was elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC, where she served on the National Working Committee and as Negotiations Commissioner. President Mandela appointed Masekela Ambassador to the Republic of France, as well as Ambassador to UNESCO, in 1995. President Mbeki appointed Masekela Ambassador to the United States of America in June 2003.

Bibbins Sedaca manages the bureau's long-range planning efforts and outreach to key partners, including Congress, non-governmental organizations and media. Prior to this position, Bibbins Sedaca served as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. Her portfolio includes democracy promotion initiatives, including the Community of Democracies, the Millennium Challenge Account and Trafficking in Persons. She also served as the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary, handling democracy, human rights, religious freedom, labor issues and trafficking. From 1999-2001, she was the Special Assistant to the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, the Balkans Refugee Affairs Officer, and Special Assistant to Ambassador for Kosovo Implementation, each at the U.S. Department of State. During the Kosovo crisis, Bibbins Sedaca was detailed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Registration for the convocation is limited to students, faculty and staff from the Connecticut Community College system and University of Connecticut and ends Wednesday April 18, 2007. For more information on the 2007 Human Rights Convocation, contact Sharon Mills at (860) 512-2605 or smills@mcc.commnet.edu. To view the entire schedule of events, visit http://www.mcc.commnet.edu/humanrights2007.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

News Item Posted On: April 17, 2007
For Additional Information Contact: Endia DeCordova-Murphy at (860) 512-2914