From left to right: Santa Clara Law Professor Francisco Rivera Juaristi, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor Dave Cortese, Heather Fuchs (3L), Osvaldo Hidalgo Otamendi (2L), Felipe Romero (2L)

In November, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution declaring Santa Clara County as a “Human Rights County” and designating December 10 as Human Rights Day.

Justin Boren, an Associate Professor in Santa Clara University’s Communication Department who also serves as chair of the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission, lead this initiative and worked with the county to approve the resolution. To draft the resolution, Boren enlisted the help of Francisco J. Rivera Juaristi, associate clinical professor of law and director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University School of Law, who worked with Santa Clara Law students on the project. The county’s Human Relations Commission as well as the Human Rights Program at San Jose State have both pledged their support for the resolution.

With a population of 1.8 million people, Santa Clara County is among the top 10 most populous counties in the United States, so the county’s move is a significant one in terms of size and impact.

“The County of Santa Clara has long been a champion in advancing local human rights initiatives,” said Boren. “By designating the county a Human Rights County, we are not only highlighting those good deeds but also obtaining a commitment from our elected officials that human rights will be prioritized in county business.”

“The faculty and students of the Santa Clara Law International Human Rights Clinic have been instrumental in helping the Human Relations Commission work on advancing human rights initiatives in our local county government,” Boren added.

A Human Rights County is one where the county leadership has pledged to give official recognition of the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. It highlights the county’s role in welcoming immigrants, refugees, and people of diverse identities, abilities, religions, opinions, and status. It defines the role of government as a vehicle for the promotion and realization of the rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In part, the resolution reads: “Santa Clara County can be a model for our country and for the world as a Human Rights County—a county where we welcome persons of all races and ethnicities.” The document goes on to call the county a place “where all residents are an equal part of our diverse tapestry, and where anyone who wishes to live in acceptance of others can find refuge.”

Of the project, Juaristi said, “I am proud of our students and of our county leaders. Once again, our county government has shown true leadership in the midst of constant attacks on human dignity at home and abroad. We need more government officials to follow Santa Clara County’s lead and embrace a human rights narrative.” Read more here.