21 December 2011
Congratulations! We are celebrating a decade of human rights education! Ten years ago, we launched Youth for Human Rights International with an essay contest. One of the winning essays was from a 10-year-old boy who wrote: “Discrimination was not born in the heart of a child.” We have come a long way since then. With dirt on shoes and goals set star high, our dedicated volunteers around the world have reached out to their communities, countries and beyond with the messages that you have human rights and responsibilities too! We have held workshops in small community groups, school classrooms and large auditoriums; our educational videos have aired to millions including on small TV screens in taxicabs and large screens in shopping centers, railway stations and airports. Youth depicted the human rights in drama productions, dance, song, essays, and poetry and painted on large murals. We took human rights education out into the sunshine during our International Walks, marathons, soccer matches, and car races as well as city park events. This all-too-brief review is but a glimpse into the outstanding enthusiasm and energy in the creative initiatives of our supporters. Together we have taken human rights education to a whole new level globally!
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.” In 2001 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.
Easy-to-use educational materials including 32 videos were translated, disseminated and distributed. Our materials are now available in more than 20 languages. Translations into several other languages are underway. We launched our interactive virtual classrooms on our websites to facilitate both educators and learners. Millions were reached through our human rights education programs:
- Copies of our materials were distributed to people in 178 countries.
- Visitors to our popular 18-language websites came from 227 countries and territories, representing over 15,000 cities.
- Over 42 million people were reached through the media.
- More than 560 TV stations around the world aired our Youth for Human Rights PSAs (Public Service Announcements) free of charge, reaching viewers in 35 countries to help promote these important messages.
- Viewership of The Story of Human Rights and PSAs amounted to more than 136 million.
Reaching out to people around the world, the 8th Annual Youth for Human Rights International World Educational Tour 2011 circled 25,875 miles around the globe to countries including Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Thailand and the USA, in honor of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Workshops were held in universities, schools and community centers. New collaborations were formed with like-minded organizations. Meetings were held with leaders including dignitaries, prominent legislators, law enforcement and educators to discuss the implementation of human rights education.
United Nations representatives, human rights NGOs and leaders of civil society joined youth delegates from 30 countries at our 8th Annual International Human Rights Summit 2011 in Geneva. Attendees packed the Hotel President Wilson event hall to capacity on August 26th—the very room where Youth for Human Rights International was launched 10 years ago. Speakers included a former United Nations Assistant Secretary General, several representatives of permanent missions to the United Nations and non-government organization consultants to the United Nations, and included youth delegates from Austria, Belgium, Benin, Central African Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Kenya, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vietnamese Community, United Kingdom and the USA. A highlight of the event was the presentation of Human Rights Hero Awards to five humanitarians for their work to guarantee the rights of others and promote human rights education:
- Mr. Antonio Lopez, Human Rights Undersecretary of Chiapas, Mexico accepted a Human Rights Hero Award on behalf of Mr. Juan Sabines Guerrero, Governor of the State of Chiapas, for his work to incorporate the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the new state constitution, giving it the force of law for the people of his state.
- Dustin McGahee, President of Youth for Human Rights Florida, for involving Youth for Human Rights chapters from around the world in the International Walk for Human Rights he established to commemorate Human Rights Day on December 10.
- Eleonora Frigerio, Vice President of the Association for Human Rights and Tolerance in Italy, for building schools in Ghana for thousands of young children who would otherwise not benefit from the right to education and for providing human rights education to the Tibetan Children in Exile in Dharamshala, India.
- Ms. Joanne Tawfilis, Founding Executive Director of the Art Miles Mural Project, for promoting peace by involving children from countries throughout the world in painting murals.
- Mr. Martin Ponce Rubio, Territorial Director of Jalapa, Mexico, for nearly two decades of championing youth and for establishing educational and art programs to inform young people of their rights and combat crime and drug trafficking.
On December 10th, in honor of International Human Rights Day, our International Walk for Human Rights was coordinated and executed by youth delegates. Thousands of youth raised their flags and awareness about human rights education in countries such as Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Holland, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela, and Zambia. Multiple walks were held in several of the countries and some students in India even painted the Youth for Human Rights logo on their cheeks. Voices and spirits were lifted as they performed the song, Ten Thousand Voices, by the talented Youth Ambassador, Dustin McGahee, a song he specifically wrote and produced for the International Walk for Human Rights.
Realizing the vital roles of governments in the implementation of human rights education, Youth for Human Rights volunteers conducted petition drives, gathering support from tens of thousands of people in city squares, shopping centers, parks, and train stations in many countries so that all students have the opportunity to learn about human rights in their educational facilities. The more than 350,000 signatures collected in 69 nations show overwhelming global support.
The 8th annual Youth for Human Rights Day was celebrated from Washington, D.C. to Washington State in the USA. Governors and mayors alike acknowledged the importance of human rights education. Youth and adults in cities including Alhambra, Boca Raton, Burbank, Ft. Lauderdale, Glendale, La Canada, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, St. Petersburg, and Tampa held meetings and events promoting the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our annual art, essay and poetry competitions inspired youth in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Congratulations to everyone who participated! Your bold statements and brilliant images depicted in relevant settings and scenarios radiate clear understandings of universal human rights. We will display a selection of your entries during our Annual International Human Rights Summit. The highest number of wonderful submissions came from the Philippines, especially from McKinley Hill International School & Leadership Academy for Children Lipa and their Pioneer Partners, selected public elementary schools as part of the Right Respecting School Award in association with the IamSAM Foundation and United for Human Rights Philippines. Once again, congratulations!
Modern-day slavery, also known as human trafficking, is a leading criminal industry enslaving millions of people in countries around the world. This year we continued our awareness campaigns in media such as the International Vocess magazine and at conferences in countries including Denmark, South Africa, and Switzerland, as well as extensively in the USA including California, Michigan, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Utah.
Youth for Human Rights International teams around the world have reached out into their communities, countries and beyond their borders promoting 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 random examples from our groups:
The African Human Rights Leadership Campaign continued to build and expand in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. The expansion included their first “developed world” leadership-training pilot, based in Pasadena, California. Many strong alliances were formed including many Pasadena city commissions and departments. Several well-attended community human rights education forums with top speakers were held, including programs on youth violence, on famine, and on terrorism and civil liberties. Now calling the project the United for Human Rights Leadership Campaign, they are training a core group of local Pasadena high school students to campaign on human rights issues. These American youth will also be linking up to their counterpart human rights leaders in Africa as the Campaign returns to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana in the coming year.
The Canada chapter of Youth for Human Rights has been expanding its roots to several communities. Some of the events they participated in were the 2011 Global Citizenship Conference, the Toronto Cross Cultural Association’s Multicultural Harmony photo competition, the Citizenship Ceremony organized by the York Regional Police, and the 5th Annual Youth Day celebration at the famous downtown Yonge-Dundas Square. The York Regional Police are now using the human rights materials with their police force and also in schools when they make presentations on the topic of bullying. Teachers are using our materials with their classes and human rights education is spreading quickly, especially in the Toronto South Asian community.
The Youth for Human Rights team in Russia reports that the teams in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) raced to the finish with huge expansion this year. Their “Final Peace and Human Rights” marathons reached far and wide during their street sport events in Perm, Ufa, Naberezhnye Chelny, Moscow, Kazan and St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg alone, 73 lessons, lectures and seminars were organized in 18 schools reaching about 2,500 students. More than 8,000 “What Are Human Rights?” booklets were distributed in the CIS area. 750 street events and petition drives were held where 450,000 Youth for Human Rights fliers were distributed and 19,000 signatures were collected from people requesting human rights education in schools.
Youth for Human Rights Denmark has more than 300 members and many sponsors. This year, with our educational materials translated in Danish, the team participated in several schoolbook fairs in two major cities. Teachers, librarians and executives of the Centers for Educational Materials attended from all over the country. Large community events were also held with artists and some of the best break-dancers in the country. Partnering with local integration authorities, they participated in major festivals, for example "International Days - Taste the World," arranged by the Copenhagen Commune in celebration of diversity and inclusion and attended by 50,000 visitors.
In France, our Youth for Human Rights team held several events. For example, on the International Day of Peace our materials were on display and our videos were aired on a TV in a large white tent, while 20 volunteers handed out approximately 1,000 booklets and collected signatures on a petition to have human rights taught in schools. Media filmed the event and radio interviews followed. International Human Rights Day and other community events promoted our messages to the public. In total, an estimated 10,000 people received our materials during these events and thousands more were reached via the media.
Gondwana is the ancient supercontinent that incorporated present-day South America, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, India, Australia, and Antarctica some 600 million years ago. Grammy winner Robin Hogarth initiated project “Gondwana” which took eight selected singers from South African schools to India in October. The young singers were selected from seven schools that had incorporated the Youth for Human Rights materials into their programs. In India, in collaboration with Youth for Human Rights India and Artists for Human Rights, they participated in events including a Human Rights Forum at a school in New Delhi. Seventeen tracks were also recorded in New Delhi for the Gondwana Dawn album. Their activities culminated in a high profile concert combining traditional African and Indian music, which was well attended and honored by dignitaries including the State Minister of New Delhi.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Youth for Human Rights team organized a project to build and operate an orphanage. As a result, shelter was provided for 130 children during those first phases of recovery. Once the initial emergency was over, a research project was initiated to locate surviving parents, resulting in a large number of children being reunited with their parents. While caring for the remaining orphans in their care, the team continues the search for parents in the hope to reunite even more families.
Youth for Human Rights Holland started the year with a mailing campaign to 100 primary schools in the North of Holland, with teachers, students and community leaders requesting copies of our materials. They participated in several events including at the Calvijn College in Krabbendijke, the Liberation Festival, the Speak Out event of the Unrepresented Nations and People Organization in The Hague, and co-organized the annual day for the Organization of Women for Peace. This resulted in a number of the women becoming local ambassadors taking our human rights education materials to the mayors of their respective cities.
In India, the Youth for Human Rights teams delivered a total of 103 human rights awareness events with a total attendance of almost 17,000 people. A highlight of 2011 has been our work with the Indian Army where joint events with Youth for Human Rights were held in Kashmir to promote human rights. As a result Youth for Human Rights received more than 75 awards and letters of recognition and acknowledgement from schools, charities and other NGOs for our contribution to the cause of Human Rights in India. Almost 8,000 individuals visited the Youth for Human Rights South Asia Online Network site with approximately 150,000 page views.
Youth for Human Rights Japan promoted our materials to approximately 3,000 schools, resulting in requests from hundreds of teachers. They did several workshops in schools, held an event in support of one of our teams in Zambia, and organized a Peace Walk. They formed significant local collaborations and partnerships, for example with the Friends of the United Nations chapter in Japan, and our coordinator was invited to become part of the prestigious human rights paper, the Human Rights Times. With 6,000 copies of the paper distributed nationwide, including to government human rights departments, political parties, education committees and more, this appointment as General Secretary and reporter is a significant leap forward in raising awareness and teaching human rights education.
Youth for Human Rights Mexico presented a human rights workshop to the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico, more specifically with the Department of Advisors to the Presidency of the court, and fully enlightened them on our human rights campaign. Furthermore, the campaign expanded to the State of Chiapas through a series of events, which included youth concerts and teacher training seminars, as well as workshops for marginalized people. But above all, the President of Mexico enacted a reform in the Federal Constitution, which recognized, among other international treaties, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thus fully recognizing human rights in the Constitution.
The Youth for Human Rights Morocco team realized that too many children suffer from diabetes without proper medical treatment. Working with the Association of Maarif they organized free medical diabetic checks for some students in local schools. Recognizing how important it is for sight-impaired children to have glasses, they arranged to have free eye check-ups for some students and helped them get free eyeglasses. They taught human rights while addressing serious needs in the community. With help from the community they painted murals depicting human rights and joined Professor Rachida El-Azhari and her team, who won a prize at the Morocco Festival for the play entitled: The Right to Education.
In Nigeria, Youth for Human Rights reached out to government officials, community leaders, and religious leaders as well as far into the rural areas. We awarded the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for outstanding efforts in the fight against counterfeit medical drugs. Hundreds of religious leaders and thousands from the community gathered in Nigeria at the 4-day Religious Crusade and Human Rights Summit hosted by Impact Africa Network of Churches. The human rights workshops included discussions about local issues and the important role of knowing about human rights and responsibilities.
Youth for Human Rights continued gaining support in Pakistan, emphasizing individual responsibility to bring human rights to every sector of the country. Over 20 live television programs have been broadcast at a national level, enlightening millions on the importance of women and children’s rights. Major work has been done to raise awareness of the 30 rights through seminars, peace walks and discussion forums. This has increased the newsletter subscribers to over 6,000. Assistance was also given to the flood victims in areas where homes were destroyed. Long-term projects have now been initiated to cultivate a culture that respects the rights for all.
The Old Fort Prison Complex in Johannesburg, South Africa was once the prison of Nelson Mandela as well as Mahatma Gandhi. “Constitution Hill” as the human rights museum is now called, collaborated with Youth for Human Rights, teaching human rights to hundreds of students from 15 schools. Working in coordination with the Department of Education, workshops were held for teachers as well as thousands of students. Youth for Human Rights has reached students nationwide in classrooms from Soweto, Boksburg and Springs, reaching to the foot of the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town and, through the media, hundreds of thousands more Africans.
In Switzerland, the Youth for Human Rights teams hosted our three-day International Human Rights Summit for the third time, welcoming youth and adults from around the world and launching their new decks of Youth for Human Rights “memory” playing cards depicting the 30 human rights in both English and French. In May, they collaborated with Village Suisse ONG and other like-minded organizations in honor of Non-Governmental Organization Day for their 4th annual conference, which was later aired on TV du Petit-Lancy. Other workshops included lessons to six classrooms at a private school where one student wrote: “I will do all my best to pass the message to make everyone realize the 30 rights and do everything possible so that these rights are respected U-N-I-T-E-D.” In December, flags, banners and spirits were high as they walked through the streets in honor of International Human Rights Day.
Youth for Human Rights Taiwan trained 500 teachers on how to teach human rights. They also delivered human rights lectures in about 200 schools to tens of thousands of students and distributed about 10,000 human rights booklets. They delivered workshops at nine universities to thousands of students. In the Taichung and Kaohsiung areas they held 340 street petition signing events with 20,079 people signing in support of human rights education. On December 10th in honor of International Human Rights Day, over a thousand participated in the International Walk for Human Rights in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung.
The Youth for Human Rights teams in the USA have reached out to schools, community groups and more. Here are just a few examples:
- Chivas USA kicked discrimination during their soccer game in August against the Real Salt Lake team at the Home Depot Center soccer stadium in Los Angeles County. Thousands of supporters learned about human rights when the Youth for Human Rights PSA, Don’t Discriminate, aired on the huge stadium screens.
- Arizona sun shone bright as our teams brought new meaning to human rights to thousands during their workshops and events, including Youth for Human Rights Day proclaimed by Governor Brewer. Bullying was addressed head-on in workshops hosted for elementary through college age groups in collaboration with Opening Minds, LLC. Channel 3 news promoted our community Day of Dignity event.
- The Youth for Human Rights Florida public school program focuses on the issue of bullying. They have expanded from individual classes to whole schools, where students started their day watching the Youth for Human Rights PSAs on school television screens. Stepping outside Florida, the teams are spreading the value of using our materials as a valuable anti-bullying campaign to teachers at educational conventions across the USA.
- In Los Angeles, in honor of International Human Rights Day, youth painted a mural depicting human rights, and awards were presented to the young artists during an award ceremony. Attendees were encouraged to donate canned food, which was donated to groups who provide meals to those in need.
- Youth for Human Rights, Washington, D.C. collaborated with more human rights organizations than ever before. They received a proclamation from Mayor Gray proclaiming Youth for Human Rights Day. They also participated in the National Convention of Social Studies (the largest of its kind in the USA), delivering human rights educator kits to approximately 25% of those in attendance.
The list of dedicated volunteers and their inspiring human rights education activities is hardly complete. I want to thank each and every one of our volunteers, donors, sponsors, collaborators and supporters. You are the vital support base for bringing our message to the world and spurring our exponential global expansion.
As a nonprofit organization we rely on memberships, generous donations and supporters, in addition to the work of our dedicated volunteers across the globe. We appreciate your help and encourage you to invite your family and friends to join in the global movement to teach human rights at www.youthforhumanrights.org or visit www.humanrights.com. Youth for Human Rights International is the youth component of United for Human Rights, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Los Angeles. Youth for Human Rights is a global movement, with groups, clubs and chapters in almost 200 countries around the world. United for Human Rights strives to educate the public about human rights and to promote tolerance and peace among people of the world.
I want to acknowledge the Youth for Human Rights International Board Members as well as our Advisory Board Members including Mayor Almog Burstein, Dr. Pouran Ameli, Professor Ian Hall, Reverend McKinney, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Sheeraz Hasan and Irving Sarnoff. Special acknowledgement goes to the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International for their outstanding support.
Because of this incredible support, educators anywhere in the world can, for a limited time, order a complimentary package of our human rights education materials. The education packages include educator’s manuals, videos, and posters depicting the 30 human rights as well as booklets for the students. This limited complimentary offer was made possible by a donation of materials. Due to escalating demand we urge educators to take advantage of this offer as soon as possible or simply use the material on our websites.
As we celebrate a decade of human rights education, we look to the future for further expansion based on the valuable experiences gained and diligently continue our exponential expansion globally. There is still much to do. With feet on the ground, reach for the stars!
Wishing you a wonderful and productive 2012!
With kind regards,