World Court on Poverty in the US: Disappeared in America Resolution of Action

Introduction The World Courts of Women exist to rewrite our histories, reclaim our memories, and find new visions for our times. The Courts of Women are public hearings that exist to share voices of survival and resistance from the margins. Those gathered at the World Court on Poverty in the US: Disappeared in America PMA, along with the host organizations, seek to break the silence on poverty as a violation of both women’s rights and human rights. We reject the myth that dire poverty only exists outside of the boundaries of the US and demand an end to the tremendous violence of poverty that impacts our children, our families, and our communities. The effects of globalization, the increase in wealth disparity, and dismantling of the social safety net have pushed our communities into destitution while corporate powers and banking institutions have profited tremendously at our expense. We link our struggles here in the United States to the struggles of poor people throughout the World. We are committed to uniting the poor as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty everywhere and forever. This resolution of action is a reflection of decades of work and we are lifted up by the efforts of many organizations that have fought tirelessly to eliminate injustice.

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Introduction

The World Courts of Women exist to rewrite our histories, reclaim our memories, and find new visions for our times. The Courts of Women are public hearings that exist to share voices of survival and resistance from the margins.  Those gathered at the World Court on Poverty in the US: Disappeared in America PMA, along with the host organizations, seek to break the silence on poverty as a violation of both women’s rights and human rights.  We reject the myth that dire poverty only exists outside of the boundaries of the US and demand an end to the tremendous violence of poverty that impacts our children, our families, and our communities.  The effects of globalization, the increase in wealth disparity, and dismantling of the social safety net have pushed our communities into destitution while corporate powers and banking institutions have profited tremendously at our expense.

We link our struggles here in the United States to the struggles of poor people throughout the World.  We are committed to uniting the poor as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty everywhere and forever.  This resolution of action is a reflection of decades of work and we are lifted up by the efforts of many organizations that have fought tirelessly to eliminate injustice.

• We are the mothers of children experiencing the pangs of hunger.  
• We are the families who have lost our homes to foreclosure due to the tremendous greed of bankers and politicians.
• We are the incarcerated fathers who were ripped from our families by the prison industrial complex.
• We are the homeless veterans who have been abandoned by the government we fought to protect.
• We are the mothers who fear and suffer from the separation of our families due to our immigrant status.
• We are the millions of uninsured in this country who suffer and die daily due to lack of adequate health care.
•We are the youth that have been thrown away by a government that has continuously revoked all our after-school programs, public libraries, and recreation centers.
• We are the workers who struggle every day to make ends meet while corporations reap billions in profit from our labor.
• We are the immigrants who work tirelessly in a country that denies us basic human rights.
• We are the educators that find ourselves incapable of developing the leadership of our youth while schools are shutting down and funding is cut back.
• We are the women who survive and resist in a world that perpetuates tremendous violence at our expense.

Platform

1) We call for the elimination of poverty as guaranteed through the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 19, 23, 25, and 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights state our right to such provisions as housing, health care, a living wage job, communication, and education. The founding creed of the United States of America, which asserts our rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, inspired the formulation of these human rights. Our government signed the UDHR in 1948; its full implementation would mean that our country would be living out the true meaning of its creed.  The myth that everyone who lives in America can create a decent livelihood if they work hard, hides the reality that the tremendous wealth of this country is held in the hands of a very small number of individuals.

We do not seek pity. We do seek power to end conditions that threaten all of us with economic human rights violations denying us our birthrights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

2) We use the methodological process set forth by the World Courts of Women to expose why poverty exists in the midst of plenty, particularly in the United States of America. The Courts of Women hear the voices of women from the women’s and human rights movements; they hear of survival in the dailiness of life; they hear of women and movements resisting violence in their myriad forms- war, ethnicity, fundamentalism; they hear of women struggling for work, wages, their rights to the land; they hear of how they survive- of their knowledges, their wisdoms that have been inaudible, invisible. They hear challenges to the dominant human rights discourse, whose frames have excluded the knowledges of women.

3) We advance the vision and principles of the right to economic justice as a means to end violence against women & the poor. With the tremendous increase in layoffs, unemployment, and underemployment, it becomes more and more clear that concrete steps must be taken in order to ensure the safety and security of families living in the US  Structural poverty places people at a higher risk of being victimized by crime and physical violence in this country.  This violence is also being enacted in our communities each time a new incinerator is built in a poor neighborhood.  It is apparent when industrialized agriculture sprays cancer-causing pesticides in a field that is worked by poor migrant workers.  This violence impacts us in each uranium mine that is brought onto Native American lands causing deadly birth defects and diseases.

We demand that this country adopt principles of economic justice which include but are not limited to:
1) A guaranteed annual income from an environmentally just job that does not put the workers’ and community’s health at risk
2) Universal Health Care through a not-for-profit Single Payer System
3) Nationalization of education
4) Affordable childcare
5) Nationalization of Utilities and Communication Technology
6) Affordable housing
7) Well developed, environmentally just, nationalized transportation

We know that many of the rights that have been gained for us as workers through organizing of the labor movement are being threatened every day that our undocumented brothers and sisters face deportation.  As we demand these principles of economic justice, we stand beside the immigrant rights movement and demand that these principles extend to everyone that resides in this country, regardless of their documentation status.

4) We focus on building intersections by geographic region that will allow us to move forward together, building power locally for elimination of poverty as central to every issue women face and the communities they are a part of. We see the Courts of Women as an opportunity for the movement to eliminate poverty to unite at both the regional and national levels.  Because poverty has different expressions throughout the country, we will hold Courts that address the issues affecting poor people in the West, South, Midwest, and East.  The Western regional court will be led by the Women’s Economic Agenda Project, the Southern regional court will be led by Women in Transition, the Midwest regional court will be led by Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, and the Eastern regional court as well as the national court will be led by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.  The regional courts will help us to develop a vision and strategy based on the issues that are most impacting folks in our communities while staying connected and united to the national struggle.  The Regional Courts will build the momentum leading up to the national Court, which will hear testimonies from across the country.

5) We desire to position the movement to eliminate poverty as both a women’s right and a human right, broadening the movement by uniting issue-based struggles. By calling for the elimination of poverty using a human rights framework we are empowered to unite a multi-racial, multi-gender, intergenerational movement.  Every time an employer pays a woman less for the same or comparable work, we are all paid less.  Every time a minority worker is denied a decent job or promotion, we are all denied promotion.  When immigrants are scapegoated and denied full labor rights and civil rights, we are all scapegoated and denied our rights.  We favor full rights for all, and we will tolerate no discrimination or other form of injustice based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, disability, national origin, age, creed, sexual orientation, language, or political beliefs.

We recognize that there is a new and growing class of the poor in this country.  Individuals who were once able to view themselves as “middle-class” can no longer feel secure in our current economic structure.  There are millions of people in this country who have lost their homes to foreclosure who demonstrate that nearly everyone in this country is one health care crisis or the loss of a job away from homelessness.  The decrease in economic security for all in this country reminds us that we must unite together at all junctures towards the elimination of poverty.

6) We come together to engage and empower poor people to participate in the World Court process and become leaders in the movement to end poverty. We are committed to developing the leadership skills of the poor to abolish poverty everywhere and forever.  History has demonstrated that social change is achieved when those most directly impacted lead the way.  We span back through the National Union of the Homeless organizing efforts of the 80’s, through the National Welfare Rights Organization of the 1960’s and 70’s (which later gave birth to the NWRU of today), back through the civil rights movement against race-based discrimination in the 1950’s and 60’s, back through the labor struggles of the late 1800’s, back through the struggles against the landowning Southern elite of the 1860’s.  Our history marches back through the Freedom rides of the civil rights movement, through the massive unemployment strikes of the 1930’s, through the lynching of labor activists in the 1870’s, back to the suppression of the rights of slaves and indentured servants, white and black, of the 1700’s.  Our history is intimately linked to the struggles of indigenous nations who have resisted the brutal colonization and genocide in this country that continues even today.  Our history as poor and working class people and people of conscience is the history of this nation, a nation founded by a refusal to be exploited by the owning class of the British Empire, a founding that promised the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  We will build the World Courts of Women with poor people shaping the leadership throughout the process.

7) We will put the United States of America on trial for human rights violations by presenting our findings from the 2011-2012 World Courts on Poverty in the US: Disappeared in America to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. After the completion of the US Regional and National Courts, we intend to present the findings of the jury to the UN Human Rights Council.  Because much of the rest of the world does not understand the depth of poverty in the United States, we will expose the human rights violations that happen in this country.  The jurors that are selected to witness the testimonies at the Courts will compile a report that reflects the methodology of the Courts and voices of the participants.  These voices will be carried to the UN Human Rights Council in order to demand that the United States be held responsible for the tremendous amount human rights violations that take place in this country.

8) We will seek to gain our demands that the United States adopt, at minimum, the following principles of economic justice: 
1) A guaranteed annual income from an environmentally just job that does not put the workers’ and community’s health at risk
2) Universal Health Care through a not-for-profit Single Payer System
3) Nationalization of education
4) Affordable childcare
5) Nationalization of Utilities and Communication Technology
6) Affordable housing
7) Well developed, environmentally just, nationalized transportation

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