"Since I was a child I have been involved in this kind of movement, fighting against discrimination," said Edwin Álvarez, Vice-President of the Organization of Ethnic and Community Development in Honduras. "I got involved because sometimes, you see too many issues in the community and we are not able to do things."
It was his wanting to help his community in Honduras to do things that had Alvarez in Geneva recently, as part of the 2018 UN Human Rights Office fellowship programme for people of African descent. The Fellowship aims to strengthen the knowledge of people of African descent of the UN system so they can resort to international Human Rights norms and mechanisms in their advocacy efforts to protect and promote the rights of their communities.
Back in his home country, Álvarez’s organization has made quite a few achievements. The group has created a school of African Descent leadership training in human rights, which has worked with 800 men and women from across Latin America. In addition they have managed to have April recognized as a month to celebrate African heritage in Honduras, and have been able to have 32,000 hectares of land certified as communal – for use by the African descent community.
Coming to Geneva has shown Álvarez that there is so much more that can be done to benefit people of African descent in his country, using international mechanisms.
"I learned a lot. I did not know about the special procedures, like how to complain and how to get the world to know what is happening in my country, the situation for people of African descent and what we are fighting for," he said. "I want to try and (better) organize my community so we can be strong. We see the indigenous people have advance more than we have. So we are looking forward."
He said that any activist of African descent interested in human rights should take the opportunity to learn in Geneva.
"I think if you are willing to make a change, you should be willing to participate in this programme," Álvarez said. "I invited all people of African descent around the world, who want to great things in your community to apply!"
Selection for Fellows of African descent will place in 2019. More about the
fellowship including application deadlines.
26 December 2018