Youth for Human Rights International Year 2013 in Review

1 January 2014

World Justice Forum IV Focus on “The Rule of Law”

“The Rule of Law” was the focus during the World Justice Forum IV hosted by the World Justice Project held at The Hague in July. During my keynote address, I warned against the lessons learned in South Africa when “apartheid” was the rule of law and cautioned that, to guard against such abuses, the rule of law must be grounded in the 30 human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights thus making Human Rights Education an essential cornerstone for “The Rule of Law.”

Human Rights in the Arts

Our annual art, essay and poetry competitions inspired youth around the world. Teachers, parents and students from countries such as Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Taiwan, UK and USA submitted works by students depicting what human rights means to them. Here are a few quotes from our entries:

“Don't hit me, once again, been already hurt. I am collapsed, and rising from dirt.

With your company and our harmony will walk together, for our symphony My loyalty, my fidelity Your smile, my integrity …” -Harshvardhan, India

“… Sapiens must ascend beyond the doldrums Gracefully soar above the tantrums That sapiens may live and glow And thrive as one in the globe.” -Akinola, Nigeria

“… In a world of differences and bound liberties we have come to find a spark of hope with which we can ignite the fire of humanity, if only we are willing to support and defend the rights of mankind to their basic freedoms and to guarantee equal opportunities for all. -Hannah, 18, USA

“… We all have the same rights No slavery, but education Security, but never fights. Love shouldn’t be a sensation.

We are the world, Let’s make our world together Let’s keep our world together, For We are the world." -Katharina, 18, Germany

“… Without maintaining the universal respect and use of human rights, there is no chance of a peaceful, equal, fair and free future of mankind.” -Amy, 15, UK

We received so many heart-wrenching as well as heartwarming essays, poetry and art depicting human rights. There are so many wonderful entries, an entire newsletter would share but a tiny sampling of the stories, passions, bright colors and inspirations. Thanks to all our talented participants for your insight and contributions.

Youth Ambassadors in their Communities

Youth for Human Rights International teams around the world have reached out into their communities, countries and beyond their borders to promote the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights with our learner-friendly materials. It would take a book to reflect upon these courageous and dedicated volunteers and their outstanding and far-reaching work. Here are just a few examples from our diligent Youth Ambassadors who shared some of their activities during our 10th International Human Rights Summit 2013:

Italy - Their charity concert "UNITED For Africa" was attended by 1,000 people, including famous football players, TV persoalities and other VIP's. On June 15th, their Human Rights Football team played the "Human Rights Match" with the National TV Artists football team. Hundreds of people attended and participated.

Japan - With support from the Ministry of Education, the team delivered lessons to hundreds of students. PEAceSPORTS joined their efforts and together they reached out across Tokyo, and were even featured in a Tokyo newspaper that reaches thousands of people across Japan.

Liberia – Working in collaboration with the Federation of Liberian Youth, the team reached out to youth in the community including those working in the informal commercial sector. Clothes and much-needed items were donated to those in need. Besides broad dissemination of human rights, steps were taken to include Human Rights Education in the National Youth Policy of Liberia.

Nepal – With the help of their board members and volunteers, they conducted 11 effective programs throughout the year. Every Tuesday the YHR-Nepal members also help a meal service for the disadvantaged in Katmandu called “Curry without Worry.” They held 3 community walks: in the Sindupalchok district where 300 participated; in Katmandu, where 500 participated; and in June more than 3,000 people participated in their International Walk Against Child Labour.

Sri Lanka – Ashan Perera started the Road To Rights Human Rights Educational Tour. The Tour is composed of a 10-person team traveling to 25 Districts providing workshops and activities that not only inspire but activate youth across Sri Lanka, while at the same time providing tools and developing skills that will help the youth better address and handle their community’s needs.

UK - Activities included a Peace Walk at the Keele University campus in honour of Human Rights Day on December 10th. The purpose of the walk was to promote the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inspire tolerance and peace. Besides the walk, talented artists performed and shared their messages of peace. Students and community joined in to celebrate their differences through expressive arts.

Ukraine – On Independence Day they organized a concert for peace and human rights in the main town square of Brovary. Four musical groups performed and YHRI flyers were distributed. Lectures were done in schools and colleges and trainings were delivered to law and history teachers as well as staff of the Department of Justice. Workshops included lawyers, public organizations and participants from the Department of Education.

USA – On Human Rights Day, several non-governmental groups joined our community event in The Woodlands of Texas. Human rights groups promoted their activities and then joined the community for our International Human Rights Walk to help raise awareness about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Over 2,000 people showed up and learned about human rights.

Vietnamese Community in Germany - Members of the YHR group for the Vietnamese Community and members of the YHR group in Frankfurt, Germany, founded a nonprofit association called Human Rights Center e.V. During the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers they had information desks in Frankfurt and Offenbach and distributed hundreds of YHRI flyers and booklets.