community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
9th Annual Human Rights Youth Summit Creating Leaders through Human Rights Education
by Paola Martinez Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2012 at 9:48 PM
Youth Delegates from 30 countries joined officials, human rights representatives, human rights NGOs, leaders and civil society at the 9th Annual Youth for Human Rights International Human Rights Summit on September 7th to 9th, 2012.
Millions suffer devastating human rights abuses. The United Nations estimated $7 billion dollars is generated by human trafficking annually, with 700,000 to 4 million women and children sold into forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation each year, Human Rights Education has never been more urgent.
Flags were held high on September 7th, as Youth Delegates from around the world carried their flags side-by-side during the opening ceremony of the 3-day summit including Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Central African Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and the Vietnamese community.
Carrying the USA flag was high school student and Youth Delegate Erica Rodgers, a Florida resident who has been taking the message of human rights education into after school programs for elementary schools and local community groups to help handle bullying, discrimination, and gang violence.
As education is key to the first step of long-term improvement of human rights violations around the world, attendees packed the International Auditorium in the heart of Brussels with the purpose to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Youth for Human Rights International joined Jongeren voor Mensenrechten Belgium in hosting the 9th annual International Human Rights Summit 2012. Co-sponsors included Village Suisse ONG, The Ariel Foundation International, Grain de Sable ASBL, Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International and Des Jeunes pour les droits de l’homme Genève.
During the Official Youth Ambassador Presentation, the delegates shared power point presentations and accounts of their Human Rights Education work in their local communities. Accounts included how the Youth Delegates used their skills such as art, performing, filmmaking, networking, translations, presentations at schools, workshops in the communities, organizing international walks for human rights and the list goes on and on. This year’s 30 youth delegates were selected from the nearly 1,000 applicants who submitted human rights essays with photographic evidence of their work to promote human rights in their local communities.
Mistress of Ceremonies Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Founder and President of Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI), welcomed the honored guests including UN country mission representatives, human rights and religious leaders, NGOs, local community activists and the community at large.
Distinguished speakers flew in from such countries as Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mexico and the United States of America. Distinguished speakers from the legal profession included Mr. Mbacke Ndiaye of Belgium, Professor Claus Haagen Jensen of Denmark, Mr. Abderrazak Rouwane of Morocco, Ms. Gisèle de Benoit of Switzerland, and Mr. Timothy Bowles of the USA.
The 3-day summit included a peer-to-peer mentoring session, a full day Human Rights Education Workshop, where the Youth Ambassadors share their experiences and best practices with the new Youth Delegates to prepare them for greater expansion of their initiatives.
The International Human Rights Summit 2012 closing session was held on Sunday, September 9th, when religious leaders including Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and many more gathered at the Hotel Carrefour de l'Europe for the Inter-Religious Conference for Peace. In closing, Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Founder and President of Youth for Human Rights International said: “Thank you again for traveling long miles, overcoming difficult obstacles and following our shared dreams of building a better world inspired by Human Rights Education. It has been a great honor to be here with you. Humbled by your greatness, your work, your passion and inspired to continue the next step in the long journey still ahead of us around the world.”