Thursday, October 4, 2012

International Human Rights Summit 2012

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. 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. Education is key. Learning what human rights are is the first step. The previous Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr. Hammarberg, explained in his October 6, 2008 Report:

"My experience is that a number of governments have not given sufficient priority to human rights education in schools. The emphasis has been on preparing the pupils for the labour market rather than developing life skills which would incorporate human rights values. More worryingly, it seems that some governments fear that a human rights approach in the schools could breed unwanted criticism and even undermine government policies. This is an undemocratic and short-sighted attitude. Educating citizens in their human rights creates an informed society which in turn strengthens democracy. For the Council of Europe, therefore, human rights education is crucially important."

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 and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. 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. Flags were carried high on September 7th, as Youth Delegates from around the world paraded in with their flags side-by-side during the opening ceremony of the 3-day summit which included Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cameroon, 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. During the Official Youth Ambassador Presentation, the delegates shared PowerPoint 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 and carrying out international walks for human rights and the list goes on. This year's 30 youth delegates were selected from the nearly 1,000 applicants. The application process includes human rights essays with photographic evidence of their work to promote human rights in their local communities. Mistress of Ceremonies Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, 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, Morocco and the United States of America.Distinguished speakers from the legal profession included Belgium, Denmark, Morocco, Switzerland and the United States of America. A highlight of the event was the presentation of four Human Rights Hero Awards for work to promote Human Rights Education. The International Human Rights Summit 2012 closing session was held on Sunday, September 9th, when religious leaders including Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, among other faiths, gathered at the Hotel Carrefour de l'Europe for the Inter-Religious Conference for Peace. In closing, Dr. Mary Shuttleworth 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.

Source: Youth for Human Rights  

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