Youth for Human Rights International Year 2008 in Review

Los Angeles, CA
10 December 2008

This has been a year of unprecedented expansion! As we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our human rights messages have reached people from all walks of life on virtually every continent—from Holland to Indonesia and Russia to Puerto Rico. International TV stations likewise promoted our videos to hundreds of millions worldwide. Through the tireless efforts of our thousands of dedicated volunteers around the globe, Human Rights Education has permeated society at a new level. The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and inspire them to become valuable advocates for tolerance and peace.

The YHRI International Human Rights Summit 2008 at the United Nations headquarters in New York was an outstanding success, with 27 youth delegates from around the world walking side by side to promote human rights for all. Representatives from such countries as Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Liberia and Nigeria attended. Religious and community leaders and dignitaries addressed the delegation and members of the audience, urging the implementation of Human Rights Education in every nation. Our UNITED human rights handbook reached students on all continents, from small youth groups to schools educating thousands of students. The YHRI videos depicting the UDHR continued to teach human rights on all continents. The videos played on many TV stations including CNN; Dynasty TV, which airs from New York to China; ABS-CBN in Malaysia; Zenit TV in Hungary; TV Mitel in Czech Republic; Europa 7 in Italy; TV Mexiquense in Mexico; Chanel 51 Nova TV in Colombia; HBO Pakistan and more.

In addition to media coverage across the airwaves, our YHRI videos were shown by taxi drivers, theaters, shopping malls, sports arenas and electronic billboards, to hundreds of thousands more.

The YHRI World Tour 2008 also circled the globe—to Haiti, Venezuela, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan and Taiwan. Tour members visited dignitaries, officials, community leaders, schools and youth groups to form collaborations in taking human rights to whole new levels. As for the actions of individual chapters around the world, YHRI-India, in collaboration with the Safepoint Foundation, taught human rights to millions of people. Specifically, they focused on the right to safe healthcare and raised awareness regarding the dangers of reusing syringes.

YHRI-Bangladesh was also initiated this year. Students in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia participated in intensive Human Rights Education and thus gained the skills needed to research, document, teach and promote human rights to their peers, community members and leaders.

Knowing that children who are ignorant to their rights are left vulnerable, YHRI-Burundi took the message of human rights to schools, religious groups and orphanages, as well as those living in extremely remote areas.

YHRI-Congo continued to develop plans for their Human Rights Community Center. YHRI-Uganda held human rights concerts and workshops. YHRI-Morocco mailed postcards and painted murals to spread the message of Human Rights Education.

Through its community activities, YHRI-South Africa inspired thousands of youth to learn about their human rights and their responsibilities in maintaining them. YHRI-Denmark kicked off their soccer initiative, which included players from many countries joining in to promote Human Rights Education.

YHRI-Switzerland took it to a new height with soccer balls depicting the 30 articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

YHRI-Italy promoted the YHRI videos on the national TV station Odeon TV. Footage of the broadcast was then uploaded onto YouTube, making the PSAs available to millions more. Through art competitions and celebrity awards, chapters such as YHRI-UK and YHRI-Australia inspired youth, with the results vividly depicted their understanding of human rights. YHRI-UK volunteers promoted the message of human rights locally and nationwide around race tracks, through their “Racing 4 Human Rights™” message.

YHRI-Taiwan volunteers bicycled around the island, promoting human rights to dignitaries, leaders, educators as well as people along the way, young and old alike. With Venezuelan artists and celebrities leading, YHRI-Venezuela promoted to audiences at huge concerts, shopping malls and on TV—reaching hundreds of thousands of fans throughout Venezuela and beyond her borders.

YHRI-Mexico brought artists on board as spokespersons to spread the message of human rights. In the US, Major League Soccer (MLS) kicked Human Rights Education to a new high. Professional players endorsed the promotion of the YHRI PSAs, which were shown during halftimes and on national TV. Additionally, YHRI volunteers and soccer fans in California initiated their new “Kick Discrimination™” campaign.

Special acknowledgment goes to the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International for their outstanding support. I would also like to acknowledge the Youth for Human Rights International Board Members, as well as our Advisory Board Members: Mayor Almog Burstein, Dr. Pouran Ameli, Professor Ian Hall, Reverend McKinney, Sheriff Lee Baca, Sheeraz Hasan and Irving Sarnoff. We also remember the outstanding contributions of the late Hans Janitschek. In sum, through your dedication and contributions, we have managed to expand our organization and our ability to reach hundreds of millions of youth.

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on your memberships, generous donations and sponsorships, in addition to the work of our dedicated volunteers who help across the globe. Join in the global effort to teach human rights to youth by taking action. Your help is much needed and much appreciated. We are now launching into a new decade. It will be a decade where millions more children are empowered by simply learning their own human rights and their inherent responsibility in ensuring that those rights and the rights of their peers are protected.

Wishing you a wonderful and productive 2009!
With kind regards,
Mary Shuttleworth, EdD