Exploring the relationship between climate change and human rights
The 11 th Annual United Nations Student Conference on Human Rights (UNSCHR) will take place on 3-5 December 2008. Participants will explore the timely issue of “Climate Change and Human Rights.” The year's UNSCHR marks two important events in the same month: the UN's 60 th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights on 10 December and the UN Conference on Climate Change which will take place in Poznan , Poland from 1-12 December.
The 2008 UNSCHR conference will unite approximately 80 youth from the United States and Canada (first at the United Nations International School and then at the UN Headquarters in New York) with approximately 100 students from countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean who will be participating from the United Nations Information Centre in Mexico City. They will work together with students from Bahrain, India, and South Africa who will be participating via videoconference to develop a joint Plan of Action that will address the challenges posed by climate change from a human rights perspective. The entire event will be webcast live on the UN Cyberschoolbus on 5 December.
Prior to the conference, participants will conduct their own research on climate change and human rights and share what they learn through a web-based forum on the UN Cyberschoolbus website. In addition, participants will be able to interact with UN climate change experts through a series of live video chats that will be scheduled during the weeks leading up to the conference. Check the UN Cyberschoolbus home page for more information.
On the final day of the conference, students will be given an opportunity to present their Plan of Action to the President of the General Assembly and to a panel of international experts on climate change.
Background to the Conference
In December 1998, the United Nations Department of Public Information invited students from around the world to a conference at UN Headquarters in New York to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The conference goal was to produce the Youth Declaration of Human Rights.
This program at the UN was so successful that students lobbied to make the conference an annual event that would be scheduled on or near to Human Rights Day (December 10th). The UN Department of Public Information agreed to host the conference. The Carol Baur Foundation, Global Education Motivators, InterConnections 21 and the UN International School in New York City were founding co-sponsors in 1998. A few years later they were joined by the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic. A total of ten such annual conferences have taken place since 1998.
This year the conference will be co-hosted by the United Nations Information Centre in Mexico City. This additional site will serve as a hub for students in Latin America and the Caribbean. New co-sponsors of the conference in Mexico City include the United Nations Information Centres in Latin America, the UN Population Fund, Instituto Mexicano de la Juventud (Mexico), Tendiendo Puentes A.C. (Mexico), Asociación de las Naciones Unidas de la República Dominicana (Dominican Republic), Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Dominican Republic).
While the theme of the conference changes each year, the goals of this annual event remain the same: to promote awareness and prompt action among student leaders about human rights in general, as well as the specific rights issues related to the current year’s theme.
The conference offers student leaders the opportunity to network and develop important leadership skills such as public speaking, team and consensus building, negotiating, and research and drafting.