9th Annual Human Rights Youth Summit
Delegates to the 9th Annual Human Rights Summit.
Brussels—The 9th Annual International Human Rights Summit September 7–9, 2012, was held at the International Auditorium in the heart of Brussels. The summit was attended by youth delegates from 30 countries.
Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified in 1948, human rights remains an urgent issue in the world today. According to the United Nations World Food Program, undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five in developing countries each year. UNICEF estimates 150 million children ages 5–14 in developing countries are engaged in child labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates 2.4 million people were victims of human trafficking in the decade from 1995–2005.
Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) was founded on the principle of increasing awareness of human rights through education as the first step toward accomplishing meaningful human rights reforms, and educational ideals and programs were emphasized in the three-day summit. YHRI also raises awareness through distribution of human rights education materials, and human rights world tours.Youth Delegates from Belgium (left) and the United States, at the start of the procession of flags at the Human Rights Summit.
In recent years, the summit has been held at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. This year’s summit was held in Brussels, the official seat of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, and one of the two seats of the European Parliament.
Delegates were selected from some 1,000 applicants based on their record of contribution to the cause of human rights, and the three-day event afforded many opportunities to expand the scope of their work. Youth delegates met and networked with their counterparts from other countries and with adult leaders in human rights. They honed skills necessary to accomplish their purposes, including communication, organization and public speaking, and they planned their activities for the coming year.
A highlight of the summit was the presentation of four “Human Rights Hero” awards. Recipients of this year’s awards are:
Ashan Pushpakumara Perera, youth delegate from Sri Lanka and founder of a youth organization which provides opportunities to talented youth in the field of the arts. His work has included motivational workshops in colleges, the organizing of the highly successful “Human Rights Walk” in Sri Lanka on UN Human Rights Day in 2011, and establishment of “The Smile Project” to raise the quality of education through distribution of books to rural schools.
Ruslan Khusainov, youth delegate from Russia, is active in human rights education throughout the year. His Youth for Human Rights chapter in St. Petersburg, Russia, is one of the largest and most active in the world. He sees that human rights information distribution events take place nearly every day of the year. He participated in the organizing of the Marathon for Peace and Human Rights 2012, an entire month of daily human rights conferences, symposia and street events throughout Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Alberto Vásquez accepted an award on behalf of Youth for Human Rights Ecuador. This chapter has reached more than 100,000 students in Ecuador schools with human rights education in the past three years, has held workshops for teachers and executives of the country’s educational institutions, organized student human rights clubs around the country, and seen to the airing of the Youth for Human Rights informational videos on 58 TV channels reaching an estimated 4 million people with information about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Bishop Dr. Chidiebere Anelechi Ogbu founded Impact Africa Network to improve the lives of African communities and uphold Christian literature and values. Impact Africa Network is an association of gospel ministers of African descent in Africa and the Diaspora. Through this network he reached ministers of the gospel in Nigeria, throughout Africa and around the globe to provide human rights education.
The three-day summit also included human rights education workshops and an interfaith conference. Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Founder and President of Youth for Human Rights International and recipient of the International Association of Scientologists Freedom Medal in 2007, was master of ceremonies. The summit was co-sponsored by Youth for Human Rights International, Youth for Human Rights Belgium, Youth for Human Rights Switzerland, the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International, Village Suisse ONG, the Ariel Foundation International, and Grain de Sable ASBL.