About the Human Rights Authority

The inherent worth and dignity of every person is embodied in Human Rights.  While rarely enforced legally, Human Rights have inspired groups to organize and mobilize to achieve social change.  Grassroots groups such as the United Workers, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and the Vermont Workers Center have used Human Rights language and principles to organize workers, mobilize communities, and achieve systemic change.

“Law is not power. Power is organized people or organized money.”

The Maryland  Human Rights Authority is part of that movement, providing policy and legal support to grassroots groups using human rights in Maryland.  Patterned after the legal unit created by Cesar Chavez in the early days of the United Farm Workers, the Maryland Human Rights Authority puts the achievement of organizing goals above the achievement of legal victories.  In representing organizations or organization members,  or strategizing with them, the Authority asks simply, “What can law and legal strategies do to build power for this movement at this moment?”

The Maryland Human Rights Authority provides research, advocacy, training, and legal representation to human rights groups in Maryland that desire this support.  In accord with human rights principles, the Authority attempts to do this through the participation of those most affected by human rights violations.  Workers, tenants, persons without housing, and those most experienced with the challenges of poverty are engaged, supported, and encouraged to advocate for themselves and their co-workers, neighbors and colleagues before local government councils, the General Assembly, Congress, and also provide, where possible, representation in administrative claims with agencies that administer safety net and social insurance programs.

Led by attorney, J. Peter Sabonis, who provided legal support and advocacy to the United Workers successful campaign to achieve living wages and worker dignity for laborers at Camden Yards, the Maryland Human Rights Authority has direct experience making human rights real.

The Maryland Human Rights Authority uses all advocacy tools to advance human rights in Maryland (litigation, lobbying, mobilizing), but its mission is to support organizing and the movement  to end poverty.  It sees it clients as agents of social change and active participants in  the human rights movement.   Research, policy advocacy, legal representation,  and training are used to achieve movement  goals and to assist  in developing leadership among those most impacted by human rights abuses.

for more information contact:   jpetersabonis@gmail.com   301-639-2561

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