United States of America

The US continues to play a unique and leading role in setting global priorities, but the economic meltdown together with the emerging threats presented by climate change have dramatically increased domestic needs and placed new budget constraints on spending for foreign assistance. The worst economic crisis since 1929 has accelerated the decades-long erosion of hard-won gains in human rights, economic opportunity and social justice. At the same time, citizens groups, community organizers and social entrepreneurs across the country have been developing bold and innovative solutions to the country’s most challenging problems.

Originally published in YES! Magazine
by Tanya Dawkins
Ajamu Baraka is the executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, a coalition of more than 250 human rights and social justice organizations working to hold the United States accountable to international human rights standards. YES! Magazine board member Tanya Dawkins talked to him about housing, direct action, and why human rights are relevant during the recession.

The unemployment crisis underscores the reality of a system that does not recognize or guarantee essential social or economic rights. Since December 2007, the number of unemployed has risen to 13.1 million – 5.6 million more than at the start of the recession. Movements for human rights, green jobs, fair trade, healthcare and housing are advancing proposals and stepping up demands for real and structural change. The U.S. cannot afford to squander this opportunity for real change.
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