Youth for Human Rights International*
ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE BORN FREE AND EQUAL IN DIGNITY AND RIGHTS
While some dictionaries define the word right as “a privilege,” when used in the context of “human rights,” we are talking about something more basic. Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights,” rather than a privilege, which can be taken away at someone’s whim. Every person is entitled to certain rights, simply by the fact that they are a human being.
Youth for Human Rights International was created to teach young people about human rights as described in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to promote tolerance and peace.
Children are the future for humanity. It is critical for them to know their human rights and to understand that they must take responsibility to protect themselves and their peers. When our children become more aware and active about human rights, the message will reach globally, and someday, universal human rights will be a fact, not just an idealistic dream.
The directive of Youth for Human Rights International is to spread the word, to empower others with education materials for youth, teachers, officials, and everyone.
Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, an educator born and raised in apartheid South Africa, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of discrimination and the lack of basic human rights.
The purpose of YHRI is 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. YHRI has now grown into a global movement, including hundreds of groups, clubs and chapters around the world.
Youth for Human Rights International teaches human rights education both in the classroom and in nontraditional educational settings. We aim to reach people from diverse backgrounds, with materials which often appeal across generations. By teaching human rights through all means, from conferences and workshops to hip-hop and dancing, this message has spread around the world.
Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) was formed in 2001. Its first action was to launch a European-wide Essay Contest for youth between the ages of 8 and 18, in coordination with Friends of the United Nations. Three young people from Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria won the contest and a trip to Geneva, home of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to receive their awards on October 11, 2001.
With the expansion of YHRI and its integral message that human rights should be learned at a young age, came a demand for more information from all over the world. Accordingly, in February 2004 YHRI representatives set out on a 45,000-mile World Educational Tour to increase the understanding of human rights among youth and to found new YHRI chapters. In the space of five weeks, YHRI delegates traveled to both well-populated and far-flung locations, including Tokyo, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; Accra, Ghana; Georgetown, Guyana (South America); and Mexico City.
Along the way, YHRI representatives met with senior government officials, visited local towns and villages, and distributed to both parents and children copies of What Are Human Rights? booklets and YHRI’s educational flier on AIDS. At each stop, they asked the children to write short accounts of what they understood about human rights.
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