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We are glad to inform you that after our pleasant experience with the Italian blog, the IIMA Human Rights Office has decided to open a new blog in English.

On this blog, you may follow our main activities with the United Nations and its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as news from the UN bodies and IIMA offices in different countries related to the right to education.

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Affirming the role of youth as promoters of human rights, development and peace

From October 7th to 16th, 2013, the IIMA Human Rights Office staff organized several seminars and workshops in Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica to raise awareness on the importance of adopting a human-rights based prospective and bring local civil society’s concerns to the international level. 

This visit to Central America aimed at enhancing local awareness and participation in the monitoring and advocacy process within the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the three countries. More than that, the visit specifically focused on the situation of youth in those countries: the participants included Salesian Sisters, young people and other educators working with youth. The seminars offered an introduction to the UN mechanisms promoting and protecting human rights, especially the UPR. Special attention was paid to the role of Civil Society and modalities to contribute in the work of the UN. The workshops emphasized youth empowerment and active citizenship.

Why youth?

At IIMA Human Rights Office, we believe that the global situation of youth deserves a special attention now. The Arab Spring with its local and global repercussions showed how the impetus of young people has extraordinary force and potential. Yet, if not adequately promoted and valued, there is a potential risk of imploding, instead of bringing a positive change in the lives of youth and in society-at-large. Subsequent episodes of violence and disorder in several regions of the world (e.g. Spain and Brazil) have proved that this phenomenon is not an isolated one.

The widespread emergency situation created and experienced by youth worldwide is clearly recognized by the United Nations. As stated by the UN Secretary General, “The world is on the cusp of an unprecedented demographic phenomenon.” With over 1.5 billion young people, the world holds today a large generation of creativity, idealism and talent. While young people can drive change and progress, this group is also facing enormous challenges. Accordingly, in 2012, Ban Ki Moon made youth one of the UN’s priorities calling, inter alia, for the development of a System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP), which provides strategic guidance to the UN system focusing on the several thematic areas, including employment and education.
Also due to the youth employment crisis, lack of motivation and frustration among youth is becoming more and more widespread worldwide. This is sometimes expressed through demonstrations and episodes of violence. Nevertheless, at a closer look, we might notice that unemployment and lack of services in general are only part of the problem. The true source of this economic and “human” crisis can be found in the generalized lack of trust among youth towards their governments and institutions. Youth feel deprived of their fundamental rights and excluded from decision-making processes. These factors, in turn, have a strong impact on their lives and the society at large. The full recognition of youth’s rights is, in fact, necessary to adequately prepare them to assume their responsibility in the society.

What’s next?

The IIMA Human Rights office is working to bring the attention of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to youth empowerment and possibly negotiate a youth-related HRC resolution.

Following the previous event held on June 4, 2013, a side event will take place during the 25th HRC session (in March 2014) to pave the way towards this goal. On this occasion, youth will present their experience describing their contributions to promote human rights as well as social and economic development in their own countries.

While continuous efforts are realized to ensure human rights for many vulnerable groups, youth are often forgotten in human rights-based policies and interventions despite the fact that young people represent the most important resource and driving force for every country. Thus, there is an urgent need to reverse this trend now. As highlighted in ILO resolution 2012, “Youth are part of the solution. Their voices should be heard, their creativity engaged, and their rights respected….” The implementation of human rights, for and through youth, is the key to unlock the potential of young people as promoters and builders of a society living in peace and solidarity.

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