On 26th August, at the President Wilson Hotel, the NGO Youth for Human Rights International who was celebrating its 10th Anniversary held the 8th Annual International Human Rights Summit.
Numerous delegates, diplomats, UN members as well as some 30 youths delegates from all of the world did meet to discuss about human rights.
The topic of this Summit was: “Creating leaders through human rights education”.
During three days, youths delegates “mixed” with international delegates could share their experiences and work together to better sensibilise the populations to the human rights problematical.
Tracie Morrow Absolutely, actually I feel this was our most successful Summit to date. The young delegates who attended were inspired to greater action in their countries in the promotion of human rights. They returned home with new tools to improve the quality of their delivery of human rights education and with big plans for expanding their campaigns in their countries.
Education Without Borders: Why did you choose this topic for the 2011 Summit?
Tracie Morrow Now that Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) has been around for 10 years, we have observed youth who started with us when they were young, growing up not only to be responsible adults that respect other people’s human rights, but also to become leaders in their communities and in whatever activity they take on. Therefore we have seen that through human rights education we truly create the leaders of tomorrow.
Education Without Borders: To you what is a leader and what caracteristics can define him?
Tracie Morrow A leader in our meaning is some one who is taking responsibility for an area of life and leading others in an activity. A leader is someone who inspires other and helps others to contribute to a better world.
Education Without Borders: How is your NGO organised at the international level?
Tracie Morrow YHRI is a membership based non-profit organization with its headquarters in Los Angeles. It was originally established in 2001 and has expanded to 258 groups in 63 countries. YHRI operates to guide and assist these groups who also work with each other and through the use of social media to promote their work.
YHRI purpose is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), so they become advocates for tolerance and peace. It does this through it human rights educational materials. This includes a booklet What are Human Rights? Which provides a simplified version of the UDHR that any child can understand. YHRI also created a hip hop music video promoting human rights called UNITED, which has won 12 awards from film festivals all over the world.
With the success of UNITED, YHRI produced 30 short videos, each one covering one of the 30 articles of the UDHR and a short documentary called the Story of Human Rights. Just in the last year alone YHRI’s videos aired on over 700 TV stations in 84 nations.
Inspired by the International Human Rights Summits, for the last two years, the youth delegates return home to carry out an International Walk for Human Rights on December 10th, in recognition of Human Rights Day. Last year there were 63 walks held in 27 countries with over 20,000 people participating in these walks in total.
Education Without Borders: In creating leaders through human rights Education, what are your expectations? (Here we ask you to talk about the impact of the leaders on the states and the possible future they can bring).
Tracie Morrow Our expectations are that these youth become leaders through guiding others to promote and protect human rights. Through their actions they can help to bring about a better future for their communities, families and friends. We look for people to become leaders on any level. Some of our youth have gone from being a school student with no plans for the future, to going to law school and wanted to create change in the world. We have had other youth return home from the Summit to speak to their Presidents and Prime Ministers about how human rights education can be implemented in their countries. We have had other youth return home to teach human rights education in their classrooms or to their family members. Whether they take action with their local community or their whole country, they are all leaders and making an impact on this world through their actions.
Education Without Borders: The arabic revolutions have been done by youths. Don’t you think that the opening of these countries could be an opportunity to teach human rights?
Tracie Morrow Any time is a good opportunity to teach human rights. Youth in all parts of the world need to learn their human rights no matter what is occurring politically there. Even in first world countries, there are many human rights issues and it is important that we reach out to all areas including the Arabic nations, especially at such a time of change.
Education Without Borders: Talking about human rights education throughout the world, what is the most burning wish of your NGO toward the states?
Tracie Morrow Our wish is that human rights education becomes a regular and mandatory part of any child’s upbringing and education.