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UNA-USA San Diego 2006 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
an article by Joanne Tawfilis

On the evening of October 26, 2006, the UNA-USA San Diego honored famed artist Laurel Burch ( with the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights. The award was presented for her artwork on the “Beginning Guides” and its contribution to maternal and child health. The award is part of UNA’s anniversary celebration of 60 years promoting international collaboration through the principles of the United Nations.

The “Beginning Guides” are a series of booklets in English and Spanish which address health literacy for first time mothers and their offspring. Laurel, undaunted by her lifelong bout with cancer, worked alongside Sandra Smith to ( ) to create these educational materials. Her universally accessible and artistic illustrations communicate essential health concepts to mothers of all educational levels, even to those who cannot read.

Laurel and her work ( have represented the Culture of Peace long before it became a UN resolution. Since the 1960's, her passion to establish a visual language regarding "Kindred Spirits" has been applied in various forms throughout her lifetime--all depicting joy, wisdom and warm messages of promoting humanity, environment and peace between all.

Years ago, while working in Bosnia, I would bring Laurel's beautiful and colorful artwork to the Women of Srebrenica with hope that it would bring a small glimmer of joy to their broken hearts. Throughout the years, I have seen her colors go global with messages of love, hope, caring, and sharing. Her work can be seen everywhere now reflecting her desire for global harmony, as do the words and works of Eleanor Roosevelt.

At the San Diego award ceremony, Laurel arrived in her wonderful colors of fuchsia, purples and indigo blues that match her sparkling eyes, in her wheelchair. We could see and sense her suffering, yet also witnessed a woman of steely spirit, who has endured unimaginable pain, yet continues to contribute works of art, that speak to the hopes of all for peace on a personal and universal level. In our eyes, she is truly deserving of the the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights award.


Question(s) related to this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

Yes, the arts do create a basis for a culture of peace.
The question I would raise is where are the visual artists who have produced a Guernica like painting of Felluja? Paintings last longer than photographs which are too often fleeting.
Do the poets against the war meet annually?
I caught a bit of an interesting tv show which featured world class artists such as Wole Soyinka speaking in Israel/Palestine about ways to further the peace movement there. Did anyone else see the entire show?
I hope a local Peace Day could emulate the UN opening ceremony .

This report was posted on November 6, 2006.