Youth for Human Rights International Year 2009 in Review

10 December 2009

This year we echoed our human rights message to millions throughout the airwaves—on TV, on radio and on the Internet.

To aid teachers and instructors the world over, we released our new Education Package. It includes teacher’s manuals, videos, posters as well as booklets for students. While thanks to generous sponsors, we are able to offer the Education Package free of charge to educators. Our latest video, The Story of Human Rights, took our campaign to a whole new level. This short documentary provides an easy-to-understand glimpse into the complete history of human rights and is also included in the Education Package.

The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is to teach young people about human rights as laid out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

Motivated by the UK-based “Y4HR” car racing team, Canada also joined the pack with their own racecar to promote human rights. Aboriginal communities in Australia are likewise spreading the word. They have created their own YHRI logo and are teaching human rights to young and old alike, in cities, rural areas and into the outback.

In collaboration with the Africa Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance, we are making huge progress in South Africa and other African nations. In Kenya, we now have a customized version of our What Are Human Rights? booklet, complete with local images.

Students in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo participated in the YHRI African Human Rights Leadership Project. They researched, wrote papers, created videos and delivered powerful speeches on human rights to their peers, community members, the media and local leaders.

Also during 2009, various United States mayors proclaimed our 6th Annual Youth for Human Rights Day for their respective cities. These included the mayors of Los Angeles, Arcadia, Burbank, Clearwater, Santa Clarita and Tampa.

In Las Vegas, the American-Iranian Friendship Association sponsored our Global Human Rights Summit. The mayor of Las Vegas and a senior United Nations official welcomed our youth delegates, including those from Bangladesh, France, Germany, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and Taiwan.

Our 6th International Human Rights Summit was held in Geneva—home of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. Delegates from countries such as Italy, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and a local member of the Vietnamese community discussed human rights and the important role human rights education plays. UN officials, ambassadors and religious and community leaders commended, supported and encouraged our teams.

During the World Tour 2009 we circled the globe, travelling to Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Colombia, Jordan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, Uganda and the United States. We met youth in schools, community centers and orphanages. To promote Human Rights Education, we also held meetings with diplomats, heads of state, government officials, and religious and community leaders.

And lastly, in celebration of the 61st Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our team in Barbados started the International Walk for Human Rights. They were followed by teams in Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Slovakia, Somalia, the United Kingdom and the United States. More than sixty walks and/or events were held to raise awareness of the 30 Human Rights. Art and essays from youth as young as 10 years-old came in by mail and e-mail from countries such as Kenya, the Philippines, South Korea and more.

I want to acknowledge the Youth for Human Rights International Board Members as well as our Advisory Board Members, including Mayor Almog Burstein, Dr. Pouran Ameli, Professor Ian Hall, Reverend McKinney, Sheriff Lee Baca, Sheeraz Hasan and Irving Sarnoff. Special acknowledgement goes to the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International for their outstanding support. Each and every one of our volunteers, donors, sponsors, collaborators and supporters are our heroes for bringing this vital message to the world and spurring our exponential global expansion.

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on your memberships, generous donations and sponsorships, in addition to the work of our dedicated volunteers who have helped across the globe. The question is not what it costs to teach human rights, but what it costs not to. Encourage your family and friends to take action by visiting this site and joining in the global movement to teach human rights.

Without you we could not have achieved these stellar results. With our Youth for Human Rights campaigns and materials and your help, human rights education will be made a reality to millions more in this coming year.

Wishing you a wonderful and productive 2010!
With kind regards,
Mary Shuttleworth, EdD