Millions Around the World Learn about Human Rights!

10 April 2013

Launch Celebration in Los Angeles Geneva, Switzerland India Russia Jamaica Johannesburg, South Africa Taiwan Mexico

The Youth for Human Rights 10th World Educational Tour just completed after circling 45,224 miles around the globe to countries including India, Jamaica, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan and the USA. During January, February and March the tour reached thousands of students as well as elected officials, judiciary, law enforcement, educators as well as community and religious leaders, while the media promoted their message of Human Rights education internationally.

Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is a non-profit corporation founded in 2001 in Los Angeles. 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 almost 65 years, very few people have heard about this important document or know what their human rights and responsibilities are.

Since 2004, Youth for Human Rights International, led by its President, Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, has conducted an annual World Educational Tour reaching out to youth, educators, community and religious leaders as well as senior government officials to promote Human Rights Education. According to Shuttleworth, “There is an urgent need for Human Rights Education. Too many children do not report abuses simply because they do not know that they have rights, universal human rights.”

Millions of children are slaves in the 21st Century. According to UNICEF, an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. These children are forced into the sex industry, war zones as child soldiers, mining in treacherous conditions, carpet weaving factories, fisheries, and more. Millions more are victims of bullying, child abuse or live on the streets without families, food or shelter.

Education is essential in bringing about improved human rights. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

YHRI has produced easy-to-understand materials to teach the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights including the YHRI Educators handbook, 30 public service announcement videos depicting each of the human rights, and other Human Rights Education materials. YHRI audiovisual products have reached more than 500 million around the world in more than 20 languages. Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, wrote: “The YHRI materials are easy to understand, easy to use and an excellent tool for Human Rights Education because the lessons are already prepared and easy to implement in both the formal and informal sectors.”

On January 27th, the World Educational Tour 2013 launch celebration opened with a traditional Chumash Indian Blessing followed by an International Youth Flag Procession. Participants included representatives from Argentina, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan and the USA. All performers joined the Church of Scientology Choir raising voices and spirits with the grand finale, "Let there be Peace on Earth!"

In Mexico, the World Educational Tour Team honored human rights defender, Dr. Benjamín Luna, at the Human Rights Parliament. The Supreme Court of Justice in Morelos and the Tlalnepantla County Police Department hosted workshops and lectures. Events were held in Alvaro Obregon, Indigenous conference at Azteca “Templo Mayor” and with Scout leaders in Morelos. A Mexico City Congress meeting was followed by a press conference. Celebrity Ana La Salvia and the press reached millions.

The World Educational Tour Team walked in the footsteps of slavery at the hot mineral Bath Fountain in Jamaica and traversed the island from east to west doing schools and church presentations in St. Thomas and participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of a youth center in Moneague. In Kingston meetings were held with dignitaries and political officials. They also celebrated the birthday of international legend, Bob Marley.

Snow-covered Geneva glistened in the bright sun but the icy wind from the Swiss Alps was a constant chilly reminder. Despite the weather, the YHRI team members drove in from as far as Lausanne. Meetings with regard to Human Rights Education were held with UN officials, dignitaries, and religious leaders as well as NGOs.

Icy weather dropping from -7°C to -19°C at night (19°F / -2°F) did not stop the team in Russia. Supporters came in from as far as Belarus to join in the activities including a community event reaching hundreds. In addition to meetings with government and non-governmental organizations they produced a short Russian public service announcement video.

The YHRI South Asia Regional Summit in India included youth, educators, religious leaders and NGOs. Some traveled for days by train from Bangladesh and Nepal, others spent days on the bus while others flew in from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, UK and the USA. Celebrities Sheena Chohan and Harish Moyal welcomed participants. During the 3-day summit awards were presented for outstanding community service.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou officially received the YHRI international delegation from Taiwan as well as countries including Australia, India, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, UK and the USA. Following the distinguished reception at the Presidential Office, the 3-day Asia Youth for Human Rights Summit 2013 included students, educators, NGOs, religious and community leaders as well as the media.

King Thomas Edgar Brown welcomed the YHRI team to the National Khoisan Kingdom Cultural Event in Cape Town, South Africa. In Johannesburg, King Molefe II traditional king of the Batlokwa Nation, welcomed the international delegation to the 3-day Africa Human Rights Summit 2013 including participants from countries such as Botswana, Congo and Nigeria. South African youth raised voices and spirits with the national anthem, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("God Bless Africa" in Xhosa).

The YHRI World Educational Tour 2013 culminated in the 10th Youth for Human Rights Day 2013 celebration in Washington DC honored with the flag of the USA flown over Capitol Hill and certificates and proclamations by mayors, governors, senators as well as members of congress and the assembly encouraging their constituents to learn and know about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The YHRI World Educational Tour 2013 is the 10th in the series of annual tours reaching out 400,000 miles since 2004 to approximately 80 countries around the world promoting to millions of youth that they have human rights … and responsibilities too!