Exploring human rights education
The 12 th Annual United Nations Student Conference on Human Rights (UNSCHR) will take place on 2-4 December 2009. Participants will focus on different components of human rights education. This year's UNSCHR coincides with the International Year of Human Rights Learning.
The 2009 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 80 students from countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean who will be participating from the United Nations Information Centre in Mexico City and approximately 40 students from Toulouse, France. They will work together to develop recommendations that will address steps they can take to integrate human rights education into their schools and communities. The entire event will be webcast live on the UN Cyberschoolbus on 4 December.
Prior to the conference, participants will conduct their own research on the status of human rights education in their schools and communities 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 experts on human rights and others knowledgeable on human rights education 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 recommendations to a panel of international experts on human rights education.
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 eleven 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 and the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) in Brussels, Belgium. The UN Information Centre in Mexico will serve as a hub for students in Latin America and the Caribbean and UNRIC will serve as a hub for students living in Europe.
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.