Youth for Human Rights International President to OSCE in Poland

Warsaw, Poland
8 January 2009

Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is an NGO (nongovernmental organization) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). With 56 participating countries, it is the largest regional security organization in the world. From September 29 to October 10, 2008, these Member States and NGOs met in Warsaw, Poland, for Europe’s largest human rights gathering. YHRI President Mary Shuttleworth, Ed.D., joined other NGO representatives in Warsaw. Her statement there follows.

This year we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1948 when this document was signed into existence, the United Nations called upon all member countries “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.” There are now 192 member countries of the United Nations including, of course, the OSCE countries.

Her message to the OSCE was:

“I am the president of Youth for Human Rights International. The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. As president I have traveled to over 70 countries around the world. In those countries few people that I met knew about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or what their human rights are. I have also interviewed leaders including royalty, senior government officials, educators, lawyers and activists. I have found that, while they have been successful in implementing Human Rights Education to some degree, their efficacy was limited due to pressures and constraints imposed upon them by corrupt individuals, denial of access to resources for human rights education, even personal intimidations and threats. Also, during the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education only limited success was achieved in implementing human rights education.

What is needed is to have human rights education MANDATED so that human rights education can be included in all educational institutions. Such mandates would make it possible to teach human rights education under the PROTECTION of the law, would RESTRAIN corrupt individuals from hindering human rights education, would facilitate FINANCIAL support for the research, development, production, promotion and distribution of human rights education materials appropriate for the local peoples. Ultimately, mandating human rights education would EMPOWER the people to know what their human rights are as well as their responsibilities, according to Article #29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to protect and defend the rights for themselves and others.

The twentieth century saw the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and human rights education. The MANDATE of Human Rights Education would ensure the implementation of human rights education in the twenty-first century.”