Supporting Human Rights in The Age Of Partnership
By SFC Matthew D. Graham, U.S. Army South Public Affairs December 14, 2016The Conference of the American Armies met from November 28th to December 3rd to discuss and agree on combined goals regarding human rights, specifically the rights of those who have been affected by a natural disaster. The conference, hosted by the Dominican Republic Army, took place in Punta Cana, which is at the country’s eastern edge. More than 20 armies, from countries as far north as Canada and as far south as Chile, sent delegates to represent both their armies and their people at the week-long human rights conference. “The main goal is to produce a Conference of the American Armies-sponsored, detailed, human rights guide that will become an annex to the interagency operations guide,” said Robert Pike, Conference of American Armies program specialist at U.S. Army South. Pike went on to explain this conference only serves as the beginning point for the guide, helping to establish which armies are committing to certain tasks. The U.S. Army delegates mainly serve as a support element to help guide and make suggestions during the planning sessions, he said. One of the key goals is to ensure affected persons will receive the same base level of care, especially when partner nations come in to help each other. An example of this is when the Dominican Republic sent aid to Haiti after their 2010 earthquake and more recently with Hurricane Matthew. It was of the highest importance to those in attendance that all partner nations have a baseline for how human rights will be respected. “It’s important that we have a common understanding of how to operate jointly and with a common mission,” said Javier Rivera Rosario, staff judge advocate for U.S Army South. “In this case, we want to make sure that the protection and principles of human rights are considered when planning and executing these kinds of humanitarian assistance missions.” It was especially fitting for the Dominican Republic to host the specialized conference, since the Human Rights Center of Excellence is located there, and they will soon have a bigger role to play within the Conference of the American Armies. “I think the overall conference has been great. It’s a good chance for the Dominican Army to get first-hand experience running a conference since they will take over the leadership of the CAA during the 2018-2019 cycle,” said Pike.