Justin D. Bibee (Morocco) | Human rights advocate and refugee resettlement case manager

North Providence so far only municipality to back Human Rights Day proclamation

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A local human rights advocate is looking to make history by uniting every Rhode Island municipality with the signing of a Human Rights Day Proclamation by Dec. 10.

Justin Bibee

Justin Bibee [Morocco 2014–16], a human rights advocate and a refugee resettlement case manager for Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, established the Rhode Island Human Rights Project with the goal of having every municipality in the state sign a Human Rights Day proclamation this year.

North Providence is so far the only community to sign a Human Rights Day Proclamation, doing so in the spring. Gov. Dan McKee also signed a Human Rights Day proclamation. Bibbee said he is continuing to speak with other cities and towns to have them join the proclamation by next month.

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi told The Breeze he was proud to support the initiative for the proclamation and hopes it will inspire the town’s youth and diverse communities here to celebrate and support Human Rights Day.

“Everyone should be treated equally and with respect, no one should be treated differently in North Providence, and they won’t be treated differently, because of their race, gender, or religion, so to say,” he said.

Human Rights Day is observed annually on Dec. 10, the day the U.S. adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Bibee said the “milestone document” proclaims the human rights rights that everyone is entitled to. This year’s Human Rights Day theme looks ahead in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the UDHR declaration in 2023. It “will kick off a year-long campaign by the United Nations” with three areas of focus, according to Bibee.

This year’s international celebrations have the goals of:

  • Educating the general public and increase awareness of the UDHR’s “enduring relevance for our times and for the future;
  • show the Declaration has guided the work of UN Human Rights;
  • promoting attitude change and counter the increasing “rollbacks against human rights”; and
  • empowering the public with knowledge and tools to stand up for their rights.

“More than a matter of intellectual discourse, the idea of human rights influences how, and how well, people live,” Bibee said.

The proclamation is intended to raise awareness about human rights and encourages all community members across the state to participate in activities related to Human Rights Day. If successful, Bibee said Rhode Island would make history as the first state in the country to have every city and town sign the proclamation and achieve “statewide solidarity for human rights.”

“Each city and town has the discretion to do what they’d like to raise awareness and advocate for human rights,” Bibee said, but the proclamation encourages citizens to participate in activities related to Human Rights Day in some fashion. “It is time to further our collective action to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.”

Justin has published seven books, and has four in the works including his Peace Corps memoir.

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