|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Thirteenth Annual United Nations Student Conference on Human Rights
Proposes Recommendations on Discrimination, Rights of the Child
More than 300 students from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, France and Mexico concluded their annual Student Conference on Human Rights, held at United Nations Headquarters from 1 to 3 December, under the theme "Discrimination and the Rights of the Child".
The Conference, the thirteenth annual Student Conference on Human Rights, was organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information to mark Human Rights Day, which is observed on 10 December.
On their first day at United Nations Headquarters, participants were addressed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the New York Office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, who encouraged the students to educate themselves on human rights issues. "You must become activists for human rights, particularly for children's rights," he told them.
Participants gathered in New York, representing close to 50 schools, interacted with students in Toulouse, France, and Mexico City, via videoconference. By the close of the three-day event, they had proposed a large number of practical ideas to advance young people's knowledge of human rights, children's rights and the implementation of those rights. They supported student activism on the issues, the use of social networking sites and specially developed websites to educate, inform, raise awareness, and communicate among themselves and with other youths around the world.
[The Conference programme and the students’ recommendations will be posted on the United Nations Cyberschoolbus website: cyberschoolbus.un.org.]
United Nations officers from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Office for Children and Armed Conflict, participated in the Conference as panellists, to offer guidance, to share their knowledge and expertise, and to hear the students’ views and innovative ideas on the issues before the Conference. A senior officer from the New York State Division of Human Rights also joined the panel of experts to respond to the students' recommendations. The experts addressed the Conference theme and sub-themes, which included the discrimination and the rights of migrant children, gender discrimination and the rights of the girl child, and discrimination and the rights of child soldiers.
An innovation of this year's Conference was a unique presentation by the students from the Brooklyn International School, who performed a series of popular Broadway hit songs that focus on human rights, discrimination and racism. The group was trained for the performance by a team of Broadway artists who work cooperatively with the organization Students Live, led by Amy Weinstein. Students Live is an arts education programme designed to teach students about their culture through the performing arts.
The United Nations annual Student Conference is an important gathering on the United Nations calendar of special events. It offers youth an opportunity to interact directly with United Nations human rights experts, to study and debate human rights issues, and to propose recommendations that they can implement as young people. At the close of the Conference, the participants called for an expansion of the Conference by inviting students from around the world to gather in New York or to join via videoconference. They also proposed the rotation of the event to other regions of the world. Among their many creative recommendations was a proposal to create a network of Conference participants to share ideas and action on human rights. They suggested that the network should expand each year by the inclusion of all Conference participants attending future Student Conferences on Human Rights.
The student event is organized by the Department of Public Information in cooperation with a group of partners that has expanded over the years to include the following: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Associated Schools Project (ASPnet), Canada; Amnesty International USA; non-governmental organizations — Global Education Motivators and InterConnections 21; and, the US Fund for UNICEF. Two New York governmental bodies also joined as partners this year — the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New York City Department of Education. Also included in the group of partners are the New York-based United Nations International School and the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York.
The Conference proceedings at the United Nations were webcast live on the United Nations website: www.un.org/webcast.
For more information on this Conference and on the Department of Public Information’s education outreach programme, contact Yvonne Acosta, Chief, Education Outreach, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information, Tel: 212 963 7214, or Bill Yotive, Manager, Global Teaching and Learning Project, Tel: 212 963 1400.
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