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Empowering Youth to Champion Human Rights

The theme for this year’s Human Rights Day is ‘Youth standing up for human rights.’

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).

They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

Many people know something about their rights. Generally they know they have the right to food and a safe place to stay. They know they have a right to be paid for the work they do. But there are many other rights.

When human rights are not well known by people, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression and slavery can arise.

The youth should be able to participate actively in implementing projects dedicated to improving living conditions, upraising the quality of human life, and developing the self-reliance of their communities. In particular, the youth could be encouraged to participate actively in rural development projects; to promote the spread of literacy; to participate in projects aimed at improving health care and medical treatment; to contribute to community service programmes of a humanitarian nature; and to develop ties with youth in other communities in order to exchange thoughts and ideas and to inspire coordinated efforts among youth to improve social conditions throughout the country.

So in summary, why youth?

  • Youth participation is essential to achieve sustainable development for all – Participation in public life is a fundamental principle of human rights. Young people are seeking to participate in all decisions that have a direct and indirect impact upon their wellbeing. They need to be heard to inform more effective decision-making and achieve sustainable development for all.
  • Youth can play a crucial role in positive change – Young people have always been major drivers of political, economic and social transformation. They are at the forefront of grassroots mobilizations for positive change and bring fresh ideas and solutions for a better world.
  • Empowering youth to better know and claim their rights will generate benefits globally – Young people are often marginalized and encounter difficulties in accessing and enjoying their rights because of their age. Upholding their rights and empowering them to better know and claim them will generate benefits globally.