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California State University, Long Beach

March 4 - 6, 2009

Fundamental Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, establishing the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” as well as the right to “freedom of opinion and expression” for people throughout the world regardless of race, gender or age.

Though most of the world’s nations acknowledge such principles in theory, after 60 years basic freedoms of expression and belief are still under challenge – across the globe, and here in the United States. The President’s Forum on International Human Rights will explore these challenges and the efforts underway to protect these fundamental rights in the United States and throughout the world.

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President's Welcome

Portrait of President F. King Alexander

Welcome to the Second Annual “President’s Forum on International Human Rights.” The focus of this year’s three-day event is “Exploring Challenges to Free Expression and Belief.” 

For many nations throughout the world, including our own at various times in U.S. history, this idea which is premised on the basic concept that every individual has a fundamental human right to express his or her own thoughts, conscience and religious beliefs, remains one of the most challenging issues in global society. The lack of religious tolerance and respect, for example, which has been at the heart of centuries of worldwide bloody conflict, continues to plague our global development and has been the source of numerous recent wars that extend from Bosnia to Sierra Leone to East Timor. More recently, however, religious intolerance continues to significantly inflame tensions throughout the Middle East and in other sensitive areas like Cyprus, Iraq, India, and Afghanistan. Even in our own nation, political and judicial efforts are constantly underway to redefine or reinterpret essential First Amendment values that have been essential in America’s pluralistic development as a nation. These First Amendment values as we have defined them also reach well beyond religious beliefs and extend to our basic human rights of free expression, conscience, association, the media and other sources of mass communications such as the film industry.  These are all areas where these freedoms have been periodically challenged and in no way are protected universally throughout our world. 

 During the next three days you will have the opportunity to explore these issues and challenges through the eyes of international experts, panel discussants, artists and film industry leaders.  The ultimate goal of this event is to raise awareness to the basic human freedoms advanced in our First Amendment, and through the European Parliament, UNESCO and the United Nation’s High Commission for Human Rights. Hopefully, together we will be able to have a positive impact that extends these basic human rights in a manner that touches every corner of our global society.

Enjoy the forum and Go Beach!