Dear friends,

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.

Do you want to collaborate with us? You can apply for an internship at the IIMA Human Rights Office. Click here!

Have a great time reading!


A word leads to an idea. From an idea, something concrete rises.

When we think of an ambassador, we have a solemn picture in our mind: with think of someone with a high political role, a woman or a man formally dressed, dealing with protocol and being cautiously diplomatic. Well, embassies represent a golden world, where you can find warmth and you can have an honest exchange.
While the new crucial negotiation on nuclear power is happening with Iran at the International Conference Centre in Geneva, the diplomatic heart of the world, Sister MariaGrazia and Sister Leonor, together with Maria D’Onofrio, Advocacy Officer of IIMA Office, completed a tough program of embassies visits. They didn’t deal with negotiations, but with genuine sharing.

They are very determined and they worked perfectly together, like a Swiss clock but with an  Italian mechanism and Italian energy. And it is Salesian, naturally. They went to talk about young people, for the young people, visiting the Permanent Missions of Italy, Austria, Albania, Ireland, Argentina, Honduras, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Palestine.
They talked in a straightforward manner, making clear speeches. They did not ask for new conventions; instead, they desire to act inside the existing juridical frames for youth empowerment, based on the human rights. The goal is to call the Governments’ attention to the youth, so that they can redefine young people’s role, especially focusing on their right to participation and on the concept of active citizenship. The idea is to get to a resolution, so that the Human Rights Council can loudly affirm that young people are integral part of the solution. It is a proper way for lobbying: by analyzing and putting a spotlight on the issue.
Young people belong to a vulnerable group in the society, they are often exploited and their great potential is not taken into consideration, especially in the poorest areas of the world.
The young generation that has a complex identity, characterized by distrust in policy and economic uncertainty. The Salesian struggle fits in this context, the urgent challenge for a change made by young people, who are the driving force of humanity in transition.
Involving the Permanent Missions in Geneva is a tough task. Both political and economic interests and internal laws of the countries have to be considered.
IIMA and VIDES goal is to try to get everyone to agree on this important issue, to push the governments to invest in the future. We make a proposal dealing with youth empowerment, having its roots in the human rights, and we offer also ways to do it. 
I had the possibility to participate in the meeting with the Permanent Mission of Venezuela. Words have to be carefully chosen. I just attended. They welcomed us with a Latin kindness, smelling like sun, people and sea. I have never been to Caracas, but I imagine it to be like this. “I am Salesian too,” said the ambassador, as well as his collaborator, who is a former student of a Salesian Sisters’ school.
Sister MariaGrazia and Sister Leonor talked about their proposal and introduced the side-event that IIMA and VIDES planned to hold next March, during the 25th session of the Human Rights Council. “Youth Empowerment” is the topic of the event and youth will be the main character. It will be held in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Uruguay, while all the Missions we visited in the last days are invited to sponsor it. The main idea is to share the best practices, for a visible and constructive social integration. Young people will talk about their own experience in committing to and trying to change something in the society they live in.
The Venezuelan ambassador likes the idea: he thinks it is very important to focus on youth, to strengthen their initiative and to build a change in the society. He used a metaphor: “your proposal is like a flame, which gradually expands and then powerfully burns.”  
Later they visited the Permanent Mission of Palestine. The Ambassador had a very young staff and he almost read Sister MariaGrazia’s and Sister Leonor’s minds: as coordinator of the Arabic countries at the Council, he proposed that he would act as a promoter of the initiative.
Now, after talking with Venezuela and Palestine, a Venezuelan young woman and a Palestinian young man are going to share their experience during our side-event. Other speakers include, an indigenous young man, a French one who lived with the street children in El Salvador, a Brazilian young man from Belo Horizonte and an American girl with experience in Africa. No political involvements, no religious links. It’s just young people who talk for and with others, sharing their experiences.
My Geneva, Tower of Babel of languages and international heart of the world, teaches me something everyday. Today I learned the strength of words, of dialogue, that leads to action, to build a future.
Recent days have been very intense, but we cannot claim triumph yet. We still need to make several embassies aware of youth issues. We will not know until the last moment if they respected their commitment. But we had our first victory: we planted some seeds.

And one day, after getting to another goal, someone will ask: “who fought for us to have our voice heard?”

Sister MariaGrazia Caputo and Sister Leonor Salazar with Laura Dupuy Lasserre, Ambassador of Uruguay in Geneva

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