SWITZERLAND: Human Rights Education

10 April 2014


Switzerland tempts us with delicious chocolates, cheeses and delicacies and boasts precision instruments such as watches and cuckoo-clocks. Famous railways whisk imaginations along breathtaking views up more than 13,600 feet (4,000 meters) to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Jungfrau (German word meaning “maiden”), also called “Top of Europe.” Ski resorts such as the Alps lure and challenge even the most seasoned hikers and skiers. Switzerland is also famous for her neutral policies and has never fought a war. Geneva is home to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Human Rights Council as well as other UN offices, almost 200 permanent missions and many non-governmental organizations.

The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International is 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 2001, Youth for Human Rights International was formed and launched our first essay competition in collaboration with Friends of the United Nations. One 10-year old boy wrote, “Discrimination was not born in the heart of a child.” Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, President of Youth for Human Rights International, and Mr. Irving Sarnoff, President of Friends of the United Nations, honored participants at our event in the President Wilson Hotel, Geneva.

In 2008, two chapters of YHR-Switzerland were established in Lausanne and Geneva, followed by Zurich and Ticino in the Italian region. The teams reached out to local communities promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Presentations were also held at schools, mostly to 12 to 14 year old students.

The 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, between Switzerland and Turkey, was played in Basel, Switzerland. The YHR-Switzerland team promoted human rights with popular footballs depicting the 30 human rights along with country flags.

Broad dissemination of human rights included showing the YHRI videos in train stations as well as the media including local TV such as Leman Bleu.

Community events were held where our YHRI flyers were distributed and many signed the petition requesting human rights education in schools. In December 2010, a petition was submitted to the Swiss Federal Government requesting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be included in the curricula of every school in Switzerland.

YHR-Switzerland expanded by joining like-minded non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). Together they celebrated NGO Day thus forming valuable collaborations to further promote human rights.

On the International Day for Tolerance, groups from diverse backgrounds met to discuss human rights and the way forward to make it an International Year for Tolerance.

In honor of Human Rights Day, YHR-Switzerland teams in Geneva and Zurich took to the streets with banners, posters and balloons in participation of the YHRI International Walk for Human Rights.

YHR-Switzerland welcomed the YHRI International Human Rights Summit to Geneva for three years (2009, 2010 and 2011). Youth delegates, officials, educators, community leaders and more flew in from countries around the world to participate in the conferences and generous Swiss hospitality.

Congratulations to the YHR-Switzerland teams for all their work in promoting human rights in Switzerland and around the world!

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Youth for Human Rights International is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to teach youth about human rights and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. Since its inception, it has grown into a global movement, including hundreds of groups, clubs and chapters around the world.