2013 Annual Art, Essay & Poetry Competitions: "What are Human Rights?"

13 January 2013


Youth for Human Rights International launched its global movement with an essay contest in 2001. The response to the call for entries describing the individual human rights was widespread and enthusiastic, depicting a world of cooperation and peace through human rights education.

One of the first winning essays was from a 10-year-old boy who wrote: "Discrimination was not born in the heart of a child."

Youth from around the world were inspired to enter Youth for Human Rights International's annual art, essay and poetry competitions this year. Here are but a few of the many submissions received from youth in diverse countries and age groups. The writings and artwork show their understanding of the question: "What are Human Rights?"

"So that is our homework as humans, know our human rights. Because in case they are broken, we can fight for them to be respected." -Victoria, age 18

"The time is always right. To do what is right. When you do well, you feel good. When you do badly, you feel bad.

To be free is not meant for doing what you want. But instead, it is doing what is right and pleasant. Your rights made you fully human, fully free. But remember that to be free is a responsibility" -From "To Be Free is a Responsibility" by Angelica, Phillipines

"What are human rights? Freedom, liberty, justice. They are what make us free. They are what make us be. They keep us safe. The keep us from evil hands. They help us to make. A better world with no regrets. They help us. They stand for us. They have the key. For a cage where humans are." -Leonardo, age 16

He is all shyness. And innocence. With shaggy black hair. His dark eyes avoiding. Filled with quiet despair. Walking with the others. Down a long dirt road. No bats or balls. Not even a roller skate. Their laughter small. Not yet wide awake. They go day after day. Not off to school. It's not allowed. They can't participate. Where lessons are learned." -Maria, Mexico

"Since the time of my childhood, Our rights violated and misunderstood, Grown amid war and timid fields, With no help around, without a shield, I have seen terror dancing in our vale, We all helpless and with fear pale, I have seen my school blown, Our values and norm's all torn, On the way to and from the school, Bullet-ridden bodies and hanging from poles, Still we are hopeful for peace to prevail, When our elders would no longer wail, Where have gone all those marauders, We aren't keen to unveil the plotters, All we want is peace and dignity, All our rights restored with amity, And let's say good bye vociferously, To bloodshed and enmity, To terror and war, And to hug the love, The romance the bright, And save human rights." -Jawad, Pakistan

"On my experience on what I could see of human rights is that really not all the people have access to these rights." -Santiago, age 17

Local, regional and international art, essay and poetry contests continue to be powerful activities for getting youth involved and learning about human rights. A selection of entries will be on display during the 10th Annual International Human Rights Summit in Brussels this coming September.