HISTORY OF YOUTH FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL

Winners of a European-wide Essay Contest—
three young people from Hungary, Czech
Republic and Austria—were honored at the
United Nations in Geneva. The Launch of a Global Movement 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. The Making and Release of the UNITED
Video During the first World Educational Tour,
director Taron Lexton, at the age of 19, filmed
many of the scenes for UNITED, YHRI’s
award-winning human rights music video. Two
thousand volunteers, including 150 actors,
donated their time to the movie project, which contains footage from 13 countries. UNITED is
truly a youth undertaking, as the crew
comprised mostly teenagers, with young
rappers adding their brilliance with a song
about human rights. First shown inside the
United Nations’ New York headquarters in 2004, UNITED has received many awards,
including “Best Human Rights Film” at the
Taglia Corto Film Festival in Florence, which is
co-organized by UNESCO. Most importantly,
however, the message of the film, available in
15 languages, reaches across barriers to youth of all races and ethnics. Educators and
community leaders consider UNITED a unique
tool for developing human rights awareness
among young people.

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