Promoting human rights to improve our health, our economy and our future

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6th Annual Health & Human Rights Convening

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The residents of South Los Angeles have endured a long history of struggle for social justice and are part of the global struggle for human rights that has resulted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents affirming that everyone has civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and that these rights are inextricably linked;

Whereas experience, research and data indicates,

The health of residents of South Los Angeles has been undermined by the inequitable distribution and divestment of public and private health care resources resulting in the highest rates of death and disability due to chronic disease and otherwise preventable health conditions;

The health of individuals and entire communities in South Los Angeles suffers when the right to health and available, accessible, culturally appropriate quality care is denied on the basis of employment, income, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity or immigration status;

Los Angeles continues to criminalize addiction and underfund treatment programs despite the overwhelming public mandate and research supporting treatment versus incarceration, thus leading to an overwhelmed criminal justice system rather than healthy community;
The well-being of South Los Angeles residents has been subjected to a flawed behavioral health system which lacks fully integrated treatment and prevention services, is limited in scope and practice, and does not fully recognize and address the levels of stigma, disability, violence, and discrimination that decreases emotional well-being and community stability;

As a result of chronic under-funding, public education system has not met the needs of most South Los Angeles students, and adequate and quality educational institutions are missing from our communities, creating poverty and a pipeline for the criminal justice system;

Discrimination and institutional racism remain substantial barriers in access to jobs and achieving the right to employment in South Los Angeles, particularly for African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, people with disabilities, people released from the criminal justice system, and other significant groups living in South Los Angeles;

Los Angeles fails to address the impact of substandard-housing, housing insecurity, and environmental injustice on health and well-being, including the illness and injury caused by slum  housing; and fails to prosecute slumlords as criminals;

Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the country and still fails to preserve or create affordable housing for low-income residents.  Gentrification, forced evictions, harassment from landlords, rezoning, eminent domain policies, and the highest rate of multi-family foreclosures continue to disproportionately displace residents of South Los Angeles;

Residents of South Los Angeles are deprived of healthy food choices as a result of the exodus, consolidation and divestment of large food retailers; the over saturation and aggressive marketing of nutritionally poor food products, liquor and convenient stores; and the lack of food sovereignty; and

Los Angeles continues to overlook comprehensive crime prevention strategies, and instead invests heavily in suppression and the implementation of special crime initiatives that unfairly target minorities and tear at the seams of community cohesion, fueling anger, distrust and fear of government and law enforcement.

Now Therefore, 
We Proclaim the following:

The Right to Health :
We who live and work in South Los Angeles proclaim that all residents of South Los Angeles have the right to health.  This shall include the right to:

·       High quality, accessible, affordable and comprehensive primary and preventive health care services, including health education, women’s health and family planning services;
·       A uniform, coordinated and integrated health care system, including access to specialty care, hospital and behavioral health services;
·       Treatment and services provided with dignity, respect and the recognition of the patient, their family, culture and community as vital agents in improving health and the healing process;
·       Professionally and culturally competent translation and care;
·       Ready access to a patient advocate and community health promoters to assist navigating the system and increasing health literacy;
·       Access to the full continuum of health care services regardless of immigration status;
·       State-of-the-art primary, specialty and hospital facilities located in south Los Angeles with the capacity and the mission to meet the health care needs of the entire population.

The Right to Behavioral Health

We who live and work in South Los Angeles proclaim that everyone, including those with behavioral health challenges has the right to:

·       Available, accessible, acceptable, culturally appropriate, and high quality integrated behavioral health treatment and prevention;
·       Early and timely intervention;
·       Accurate and culturally relevant information about services and treatment;
·       Receive education and training about behavioral health issues;
·       Accessible recreational and entertainment activities to reduce environmental stressors;
·       Adequate standard of living to promote positive behavioral health.

The Right to Education and Employment

We who live and work in South Los Angeles proclaim that we have the right to quality education and employment including the right to:

·       Equal opportunities to education and employment regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, and age; and mechanisms and policies that proactively address historic inequities;
·       The highest standard and quality of education from pre-school through a bachelor’s degree level, that is available, accessible to all,  free of charge and adaptable to the needs of all the residents;
·       Jobs with dignity that pay a living wage and respect the worker’s health and safety and provide access to continuing education, training, on-the-job training, health care coverage, transportation, housing, and childcare necessary to maintain our employment;
·       Equal access to credit to establish and stimulate creation of small businesses within our communities, including making all existing businesses (e.g. street vendors) legitimate under the law;
·       Be hired by or otherwise be an integral part of decision making processes within community-based organizations, schools, and other institutions of which we are constituents or clients; and recognized and valued for our paid and unpaid work.

The Right to Housing and a Safe Environment

We who live and work in South Los Angeles proclaim that all residents of South Los Angeles have the right to affordable housing that provides security and dignity.  This shall include the right to:

·       Healthy, safe, and secure housing regardless of race, gender, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, family structure or other chosen household configuration.  This right extends further to all people of South Los Angeles, whether they are property owners, renters, members of a co-op or community land trust; 
·       Environmentally healthy conditions within and outside the home to promote the flourishing of culture, mental and physical health and fitness, and economic prosperity;       
·       Housing that meets the needs of the people of South Los Angeles at every level of affordability,  affordability levels that are preserved, and housing stock well maintained for the health and well-being of residents;  
·       Sufficient housing to accommodate South Los Angeles residents who are seniors, families with children, people with disabilities, and other special needs;
·       Remain in the communities they reside in and contribute to, secure from the threat of displacement, and protected from foreclosure and forced eviction;  
·       Participate actively in community planning and land use decisions in South Los Angeles, and all community building and economic development processes to ensure access to quality community amenities such as transportation, quality schools, access to healthy food, health services, green space for gardens, parks and recreation. 

The Right to Food and Food Sovereignty

We who live and work in South Los Angeles proclaim that all residents of South Los Angeles have the right to healthy nutrition and food security.  This shall include the right to:

·       Access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity;
·       Food Sovereignty – the right to define our own food and agriculture systems as well as healthy and culturally appropriate food, produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods;
·       Require a food system that promotes local economies, upholds transparent trade and provides policies that guarantee just income to all peoples, and places including those who produce, distribute and consume food;
·       Education about nutrition, food and agriculture so that we may make informed choices

The Right to Dignity and Safety

We who live and work in South Los Angeles proclaim that we have the right to:

·       Public safety measures that include employment, housing, services, green space and community-based amenities;
·       Criminal justice measures that do not target nor disproportionately impact residents based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or other characteristics;
·       Sentences and sentencing guidelines that do not disproportionately impact minority residents causing them to incur lengthy incarceration terms and connection to the criminal justice system for inordinate periods of time;
·       Treatment instead of incarceration for “crimes” related to addiction or mental health;
·       Law enforcement measures that are not oppressive, criminalize entire communities, or create fear and distrust among any resident; and
·       Public spending that makes communities in South Los Angeles a priority, versus building more jails and hiring more police.

Now therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that anyone who lives or works in South Los Angeles shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration without any exception; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we who live and work in South Los Angeles call upon our government, civic leaders and community organizations to adopt and ratify the South Los Angeles Declaration of Health and Human Rights;  and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that each signatory to this Declaration recognizes the indivisibility of human rights; pledges to oppose any legislation, campaign, process, or action that infringes on the basic rights of human beings in South Los Angeles and beyond; to support such actions that promote these rights; and to actively participate in the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and enforcement of policies and programs that advance human rights.




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