Skip to main content

Joe Chuman: The Triumphs and Challenges of Human Rights

By November 12, 2023No Comments

This December 10th marks the 75th anniversary since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In conjunction with the occasion, the New York Society has put together a series of programs. My talk is a contribution to these events, acknowledging the importance of the Declaration.The concept of human rights is radical and relatively new. The term did not come into wide use until the administration of Franklin Roosevelt.
Historically, the rights a personal possessed where tagged to qualifications related to sex, gender, ethnicity, religion and social standing. With the human rights idea, all those qualifiers were swept away. The human rights idea asserts that all people, without exception, possess certain fundamental rights issuing from their humanity alone.
Since the end of the Cold War, and the fading of socialism as an ideology, human rights has done the heavy lifting world-wide of people who have struggled against their oppression and injustice.In the decades after World War II, human rights has widened the circles of equality to include, women, minorities, LGBT people, the disabled and other marginalized groups. At the same time, human rights faces many challenges, both conceptually and in terms of implementation. While codified into international law by a growing family of more than 100 treaties, human rights remain primarily aspirational. Their realization ultimately resides in the will of nations and their people to proclaim, uphold and enforce them.

About Leader Dr. Joe Chuman

Dr. Joe Chuman started on his road to Ethical Leadership as a leader-in-Training here at the New York Society in 1969 and continued his training at the Bergen Society, after which he became Leader of the Essex County Society before returning to the Bergen Society, where he served as leader for 46 years, retiring in January 2021. Joe has been a leader at the New York Society Since 2008. During his long career, Joe has worked as an academic, a social justice activist, a speaker, and a writer. He has been teaching human rights in the Graduate School at Columbia University for more than 20 years, teaches human rights at Hunter College, and has taught at the U. N. University for Peace in Costa Rica and at other colleges.

As an activist, Joe has advocated for civil liberties, human rights, and other progressive causes and has frequently testified before the New Jersey legislature on such issues as religious freedom, gun violence prevention, death penalty opposition, and immigrant rights. He founded the Northern New Jersey Coalition for Asylum Seekers 20 years ago and still serves as its president. Joe has written numerous book chapters, encyclopedia entrees, scores of Op-eds, and is the author of “Speaking of Ethics,” a compilation of essays on Ethical Culture. Currently, he writes articles on political and socio-political issues on Substack and other social media outlets.

About Sunday Platform

Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest.  Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Humanist philosophy. Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.

To watch previous Sunday Platforms, visit our Videos page and YouTube channel.

Skip to content