MAKING GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS A FACT, SKIPPING THE FANTASY
With human rights abuses commonplace, the 21st Century is emerging as the make-or-break climax of relations between the “have” and “have not” nations of the world. While the planet is drawn tighter by instantaneous electronic communications, over one billion people live in extreme poverty, on a daily thread between life and death. It is a monument then to Mankind’s tenacious survival urge that only an estimated eight-plus million die each year as they are too poor to stay alive. Ref.: The End of Poverty, Sachs, J. (2006).
The African Human Rights Leadership Campaign, a pilot project of Youth for Human Rights International, is a growing initiative designed to inspire and equip young people to create futures worth living in their communities and countries.
From the Ruins is a short film on this human rights work to date, shot and directed by Ian Jay.
Started in 2006 between young Liberian activist Jay Yarsiah, his Ghanaian counterpart Sammy Jacobs Abbey, and a somewhat wide-eyed American lawyer new to West Africa (me), the Campaign enjoyed its most successful year in 2009.
The training experience is through competitions between teams made up of coalitions of young people from various local senior high schools, colleges and other groups. Each team vies for creation and delivery of the most effective public awareness campaign on a chosen human rights abuse issue. To a person, team members regard any common violation of human rights a matter of their responsibility, not detached observation.
For 2009 — in four African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Togo B some 200 young people now have training and significant experience in the dissemination and implementation of human rights principles in the face of deeply rooted government corruption, common delays and denials of access to justice, and seemingly hopeless cycles of youth violence in their respective countries. Among other results and with the help of local professional editors, the student teams produced nine short documentary films on such African human rights issues. We also reached for the first time into Ethiopia, where the Campaign received equally enthusiastic response from a broad spectrum of youth human rights advocates and organizations.
We are now planning the Campaign’s coming 18 months of expanding human rights advocacy training, through August, 2011. This Campaign not only has the makings to help Africa but also the potential to assist in educational innovations that can make global human rights a reality. Please stay tuned.