Young people are at the forefront of standing up for human rights


With 1.2 billion people aged 15-24 years old globally, young people account for one out of every six people. Human Rights Day is dedicating to highlighting the role of young people and showcasing their participating in social movements to stand up for human rights.

(A group of marchers show support for youth during a Human Rights Day in Bangladesh. © UN Bangladesh)

Whether is it has been advocating for access to education, protesting for better health care for women and girls or fighting for climate justice, young people have been at the forefront of tremendous activism when in the fight for human rights, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

"In every region, people are working for hope," she said. "From the accelerating climate crisis, to the fight against inequality and repressive institutions. From the right to make informed decisions about our own bodies, to the right to participate in defining policies for our own countries, I am inspired by the courage, clarity and principle of the women, men and young people who are rising up peacefully to create greater freedom and justice."

In Geneva, six young women, part of a new generation of women human rights defenders, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, took part in the Women and Girls Driving Progress summit. Each activist will present their cause and discuss their merits. In New York, a live audience takes part in an interactive quiz on their knowledge of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event, which takes place at UN Headquarters, will also show the finalists of the Photography 4 Humanity Global prize exhibition.

Other countries and cities across the globe are also joining in to celebrate youth activism. These include:

  • In Jamaica, youth voices speak out against climate change, violence against children and the right to education through an arts competition across 50 schools. The winners present their work at the Jamaica Conference Center in Kingston.
  • In Bangladesh, there is a human rights tour, which goes through different regions and features screenings of short films on human rights followed by roundtable discussions.
  • Students aged 16-23 from around the country can take part in Human Rights Debates in Ukraine.  The winners of regional debates are invited to Kyiv for the final tournament.
  • In Tunisia, the Ministry for Relations with Constitutional Bodies, NGOs, and OHCHR Tunisia held a competition to reward the most original and innovative initiatives to benefit communities, made by young Tunisians.
  • The UN Human Rights Office in South Africa worked with young people to create short videos tackling hate speech and prejudice, both on and off line.

Read more about how youth standing up for human rights was celebrated elsewhere in the world, as well as view a special recorded message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on our stand up site.

10 December 2019

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