Countdown to Human Rights Day
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was truly global in its writing.
OHCHR and youth
This year, the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – a miraculous text adopted by the United Nations. The Human Rights 75 initiative, led by OHCHR recalls the consensus imagined by the UDHR, look to the future and seek to bolster the human rights ecosystem built over the past decades.
Given that young people face particular challenges in exercising their rights while often being at the forefront of human rights activism, youth engagement is a key component of the initiative. To ensure such engagement, OHCHR established a Youth Advisory Group, which participates in the design, implementation and follow-up of Human Rights 75 activities.
The Youth Advisory Group consists of twelve inspiring young activists from around the world who work on a wide variety of human rights issues.
The overall objectives of the Youth Advisory Group are:
As part of its mandate, the Youth Advisory Group is involved in the development of the Human Rights 75 Youth Declaration, which will reflect young people's views on the future of human rights. The Declaration will be presented at the Human Rights 75 High-level event, which will take place in Geneva on 11-12 December.
On the occasion of International Youth Day, the Youth Advisory Group, together with OHCHR, organized a Global Youth Consultation to gather views of young people on the issues to be reflected in the Youth Declaration. Read the summary report from the consultation.
In parallel to the consultation, an online youth survey and a call for input for youth organizations were launched in six official UN languages to gather input from the wider youth public.
Venus Aves is an LGBTIQ+ rights activist from the Philippines and a master's student in human rights and humanitarian action at the Paris School of International Affairs. She is a program assistant at the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and a consultant on transgender health, SOGIESC advocacy, and LGBTIQ+ inclusion. As a community organizer, she led UP Babaylan, Asia's longest-existing LGBTIQ+ student organization, and co-founded Balur-Kanlungan, an LGBTIQ+ youth wellness community. As a public speaker and campaigner, she has been advocating for a national anti-discrimination law in various fora, including the Philippine Senate, where she spoke about the situation of LGBTIQ+ students in 2019. Venus believes in the power of intersectional feminism and global solidarity.
Mario Galbert is an environmental and climate policy advocate with over 5 years of experience in sustainable development advocacy. He strongly believes that everyone has the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment that must be protected under international laws. This is coupled with his strong advocacy for tearing down the architecture around the remnants of slavery and for the upliftment of people of African descent. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in International Public and Development Management at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He is a director at Children of the Maafa- Recognition.Justice.Development project, interim coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Climate Council, and the founder and executive director of the Global Sustainable Development Network.
Allyson is a 22-years-old activist and journalism student who has worked for various human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, since the age of 16. She is alumni of Amnesty International's Global Youth Collective and a board member of Amnesty Chile. Her work has been focused on sexual and reproductive rights and LGBTIQ+ rights, topics on which she is building her own organization while she has also worked on climate activism as a member of other organizations such as Latinas for Climate. In 2022, she was selected to participate in the UNAOC Young Peacebuilders programme and became a member of Women@Dior program by Unesco.
Raised in Vancouver, David is dedicated to fostering inclusivity and equity in Canada. In 2017, he founded The Global Spotlight, transforming youth into changemakers through stories and mentorship. As Canada’s G20 Youth Representative, he presents negotiations and proposals to world leaders for an inclusive recovery from the pandemic. David has led various community projects and shared his journey through three TEDx talks, inspiring others to act. Studying at Pearson College UWC among 150 nationalities, he later led the Prime Minister's Youth Council, advising government leaders on the economy, education and social justice. Currently, David pursues a BA in Economics at Bates College as a Terry Fox Scholar and enjoys hiking, canoeing, and DJing in his free time.
Stephanie Cohen is a South London legal academic, activist, and campaigner. She has been doing this work for over 8 years, having gained invaluable skills from the Advocacy Academy's Social Justice Fellowship Programme in 2015. In 2020, she co-founded The Halo Collective to end racialized hair discrimination that has since gained momentum, with over 900 organizations and schools in the UK adopting their "Halo Code" protecting Afro-textured hair and styles. As a recent UN Fellow for people of African descent, graduating in 2022, Stephanie has gained an international perspective on civil organizations' impact on advancing racial justice and influencing the UN's racial justice agenda.
Roger Kodzo Klomegah began his human rights journey at Amnesty International Togo. In 2018, he was co-winner of the Human Rights Improvisation Championship of Amnesty International's Local Group Action Urgent. He then joined the group, serving as general secretary and then national youth coordinator. A member of JCI Universitaire Lomé since 2017, he served as the organization's local president in 2021. A Yali Accra graduate and JCI Togo national secretary, Roger Kodzo has worked on issues related to active citizenship, human rights, leadership, and youth empowerment with several youth organizations, including the Organization for African Integration, Alternative Leadership Group, and interned with the Togo Office of UNFPA in 2020. He is pursuing a master's degree at the law department at the University of Lomé and continues working for Amnesty International Togo as a human rights monitoring, youth activism and social media assistant.
Rachel Kalinaki is a youth expert and passionate disability rights advocate from Uganda also living with a physical disability. She has over eight years of experience in advocating for the rights of young people with disabilities at national, regional and international levels. She is currently a youth representative on the Board of Directors of Integrated Disabled Women Activities (IDIWA) and sits on the She Leads national Girls & Young Women desk. She is also a She Leads UN Youth Advocate at Plan International, working to advance the rights of girls and young women with disabilities at the UN. As a UN Youth Fellow, she advocates for the rights of marginalized youth in Uganda, especially those from rural communities and youth with disabilities. Rachel enjoys using her skills to develop and deliver transformative and innovative solutions to problems affecting young people with disabilities.
Courteney Mukoyi is a young CivicTech enthusiast from Zimbabwe and the founder and current director of the Justice Code Foundation. He is a 2023 Mandela Washington Fellow and the recipient of the 2022 Democracy Innovation Award. He has worked with various organizations, including the Accountability Lab and the African Union, to advance the use of technology and artificial intelligence in human rights and civic engagement. He is a serial entrepreneur who also founded an InsurTech startup called Toplegal, which began his journey to create unicorns in Africa. He holds a Master of Laws degree in International Trade from the University of Cape Town.
Tala Odeh is a young human rights defender from Jordan. She is a founding member of the NAMA Network of Human Rights Defenders, a regional network specializing in supporting human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa region. Her work focuses on empowering young people and strengthening their knowledge and ability to advocate for human rights regardless of their background. Tala works as a human rights educator with various civil society organizations locally and internationally to build capacities of young leaders. In 2021, she was appointed Jordan's Ambassador for Peace by the Global Peace Chain to work with youth to promote dialogue for peace.
Safayet Zamil Nowshan began his journey as a child rights activist with the National Children's Task Force (NCTF) at the age of 14. Over time, he recognized the urgent need for human rights and continued his work at the local, national and international levels to ensure equality for all people, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, political opinion or birth status. He is now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the University of Chittagong. Applying his academic and practical knowledge in human rights, gender, politics, governance and accountability, he designed campaigns and demonstrations to push the government for fair policies and inspire young people to take charge of change. As the Organizing Secretary of Youth Engagement for Sustainability (YES) in Bangladesh, he is currently working to sensitize young people about the necessity of SRHR literacy and girls’ rights.
Milena Rusu is a social justice activist from Chisinau, Moldova. When she was just 16 years old, Milena founded Feminismd, the first youth-led organization in her country dedicated to fighting for gender equality. Under her leadership, Feminismd has secured $34,000 in funding, partnered with numerous national and international women's rights organizations, and provided training on consent and gender equality to more than 1,000 adolescents throughout Moldova. Due to her activist experience, Milena has been selected as a Youth Ambassador for Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), co-president of the UN Moldova Youth Advisory Panel, and member of the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) at the Global Fund for Children. Milena will attend Vanderbilt University as a Chancellor's Scholar beginning in the fall of 2023.
Kaeden Watts is from Aotearoa New Zealand and of Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Maniapoto decent. Kaeden works at the intersection between climate change and Indigenous sovereignty. He has a background in activating change at a range of levels, from grassroots campaigning to working within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. His experience across equity related work has allowed him to engage on transformational change aimed at creating a more sustainable environment for indigenous peoples to thrive.