1 March 2011
The 8th annual Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) World Educational Tour 2011 circled 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).
The purpose of YHRI is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. The UDHR was signed into existence in 1948 and the United Nations General Assembly 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." Unfortunately, in more than 62 years, very few people have heard about this important document or know what their human rights and responsibilities are.
Mary Shuttleworth, Ed.D., Founder and President of YHRI, has led the annual global outreach project circling the globe each year since 2004, visiting more than 70 countries and meeting with youth, educators, community leaders, and legislators as well as various dignitaries, including kings, heads of government and officials of the United Nations and Commonwealth of Nations to promote the implementation of human rights education.
Officers of the Royal Thai Army welcomed the YHRI World Educational Tour 2011 to Thailand. Local issues pertaining to human rights were raised to relate to their practical on-the-ground experiences. Hundreds of students and educators in Bang Kadee, Khet Phayathai and Bang Khe Districts participated in YHRI workshops and learned about human rights and responsibilities. A local Buddhist Temple warmly embraced and blessed the mission. The National Human Rights Commission explored collaboration opportunities.
In honor of the United Nations International Women's Day, the YHRI World Educational Tour 2011 team focused on children, with visits to facilities helping orphans and victims of human trafficking. According to UNICEF, 1.2 million children are trafficked across international borders each year and the vital work of safe houses and orphanages was commended.
The Bangabandhu Convention Center hosted the official launch event of YHRI-Bangladesh. Awards followed gift bouquets of flowers to the distinguished panelists. Traditional dancers held lit candles in the palms of their hands during elegant dance routines. YHRI conferences were held at schools and three universities, as well as an inner-city orphanage for boys. A service at the Savar Sriti Sati Saudho Memorial honored the Bangladeshi independence and served as a reminder to treasure the mother language as a human right.
The YHRI art display depicted what human rights mean to the youth participating in the human rights education workshop. The press conference was followed by a round table discussion where international associations networked and collaborated to promote human rights. The YHRI World Educational Tour 2011 Human Rights Concert included artists from the diverse genres of opera to African folk music, with the enthusiastic audience literally dancing in the aisles.
Lawyers, law enforcement officers, NGO groups, religious leaders, educators and students gathered at the Colegio de Abogados in San Jose to discuss local human rights issues, programs and collaborations. Meetings with the members of Congress and the human rights commission were followed by TV interviews highlighting the need for human rights education. Meetings were also held at the universities, a school and a youth center.
National and international human rights groups gathered for a round table discussion on local challenges and sharing best practices. Hundreds of students participated in a conference to learn about their human rights and responsibilities. An interview with a local newspaper reporter was followed by an hour on TV discussing local human rights issues, teaching youth about human rights in schools and the important role of the media.
United Nations Headquarters in New York
The United Nations Human Rights Committee 101st session provided valuable insight into the progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals, as well as highlighting areas in much need of improvement. Collaboration meetings were held with NGOs and religious groups, as well as a Mission to the United Nations.
The YHRI World Educational Tour 2011 reached thousands of students as well as elected officials, judiciary, law enforcement, educators as well as community and religious leaders, while the media promoted our message of human rights education, to millions more.
Thanks to the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who donated their time, talents and resources and made this tour a success. We now have new collaborations, partnerships and groups formed. Together we are building strong foundations for human rights education upon which we must continue to build.
Youth Country Delegates from 30 countries are preparing to discuss important issues with dignitaries, officials and leaders, focusing on the vital role of human rights education, during this year's upcoming Annual International Human Rights Summit to be held in the late summer.
"Human rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand and that should be stressed in human rights education." — Dr. Mary Shuttleworth