Youth for Human Rights International Year 2013 in Review

1 January 2014

This year was historic! We celebrated a decade of exponential global expansion of Human Rights Education. This included our 10th World Educational Tour, our 10th Youth for Human Rights Day Celebration and our 10th International Human Rights Summit: an entire decade of circling the globe promoting human rights… and responsibilities.

Youth for Human Rights International was formed with the purpose to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called upon all member countries to: “cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”

Government implementation of Human Rights Education is key. The words of the late Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, are as true now as the day he said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” During 2013 alone, 72,139 people signed our petition encouraging UN member countries to teach human rights in their educational facilities.

Realizing the importance of teaching human rights in both the formal and informal education sectors, our materials include 32 audiovisual videos as well as fliers, booklets, lesson plans and curricula for schools and colleges.

International Scope

Translations are key to global expansion. Our materials are now available in more than 20 languages with other translations underway. Thus far, millions have been reached through our Human Rights Education programs:

  • People visited our website to get information, watch videos and participate in our on-line virtual classrooms from 191 countries;
  • In total, 368 TV networks donated free airtime for the YHRI videos;
  • 34,033 items of complimentary Human Rights Education materials were ordered;
  • 2,314 human rights awareness events were held, including information booths at conferences and street events, that reached more than 782,000 people.

10th Annual International Human Rights Summit

Youth for Human Rights International joined Jongeren voor Mensenrechten Belgium (Youth for Human Rights Belgium) in hosting the 10th annual International Human Rights Summit 2013 in Brussels from September 6th to 8th. Professor Dr. Bertrand G. Ramcharan, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2003-2004) officially opened the proceedings. Co-sponsors included Village Suisse NGO, Bomoko NGO, The Voix des Faibles ASBL, Grains de Sable ASBL, Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International and Des Jeunes pour les Droits de l'Homme Genève.

Youth Delegates represented a truly diverse complement of nations, including Albania, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States of America and the Vietnamese community. Dignitaries and participants were from such countries as Cameroon, Denmark, France, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, South Africa and Switzerland.

A highlight of the event was the presentation of four Human Rights Heroes Awards for outstanding work promoting human rights and Human Rights Education:

Canada - YHR-Canada was officially launched at an event held at the Toronto City Hall in 2005. Speakers included two sisters of Canadian Professor John P. Humphrey, a principal drafter of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Celebrities joined the team and promoted Human Rights Education through the media and Internet. Students in schools and universities watched our videos and then created campaigns inspired by our materials. Examples include a team of Toronto University students who produced an award winning website entitled, "Living Rights," and students at a Toronto area arts school presented a 2-hour show written, composed and designed by intermediate arts students entitled, "On the Rights Path."

Costa Rica - The Youth for Human Rights Costa Rica group was formed on December 10, 2010, the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration by the UN General Assembly. They celebrated this year with an event in honor of the anniversary of both our group in Costa Rica and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With strong local support, including the Ministry of Peace and the Ministry of Education, their activities have expanded to include schools, colleges and universities. Community events were held to distribute YHRI materials. They also reached out through many libraries as well as broad promotion through radio and TV.

Denmark - Youth for Human Rights Denmark was founded in February 2006 and started out with a large two-day event at the Town Hall Square, where big screens showed the YHRI short videos and more than ten thousand booklets were distributed. Since then, thousands were reached through community events held in the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe: Strøget in Copenhagen. Volunteers were also active in parks during the summer months and the annual “Taste the World” festival. Thousands of teachers and students were reached during the two School Book Fairs as well as educator magazines such as the national teachers magazine, “Skolen.”

India - The Youth For Human Rights India program was established in 2004 during the Youth for Human Rights World Educational Tour. In 2009 the program really took off with the creation of an online social network with the purpose of contacting, aligning and coordinating the thousands of supporters in India. There are over 7,500 registered members of the YRHI South Asia Online Network and more than 50,000 individuals visited the site with more than 1,000 people using the site per month on average. Over 100 million people have been reached via TV, radio and newspaper media.