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Educating young people about their human rights

5 February 2013
The Commonwealth is training Caribbean youth workers on educating young people about their human rights.

The first regional workshop is being held in Nassau, The Bahamas, this week.

The training aims to increase the number of young people who are informed about their rights to enable them to advocate for strengthened rights protection and promotion in their countries. The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Affairs Division and Human Rights Unit are collaborating to deliver the training, which is hosted by The Bahamas Government.

The Secretariat's Head of Human Rights, Karen McKenzie, said: “The training aims to better equip persons under the age of 30 with effective practical tools to promote human rights values and respect for democracy, diversity and good governance among young people. It will also increase their awareness of the national and regional human rights issues and strengthen their capacities to advocate for strengthened rights protection.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among others, place an obligation on states to promote respect for human rights through teaching and education.

In 2004, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the World Programme for Human Rights Education, which was aimed at progressing the realisation of human rights education in all sectors, including youth.

Thirty trainers from eight Caribbean countries: Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, are attending the workshop. Representing governments, civil society and youth networks, these trainers will develop their capacities to effectively train other young people in their communities and countries. The course will draw heavily on the varied experiences of participating trainers, as well as the national and regional rights dimensions.

The workshop facilitators include Roy Daniel and Jean-Sébastien Valléé of Equitas, a Canadian non-profit organisation involved in advancing equality, social justice and respect for human dignity through innovative education programmes.

The five-day training will conclude on 8 February with the launch of a Caribbean Adolescent and Youth Human Rights Network by the Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean Regional Centre, which will promote the integration of the initiatives of young people, youth workers, human rights advocates and other agencies.

“This will facilitate human rights education and work towards sustained civic responsibility and advocacy for democracy and good governance,” said Ms McKenzie.

The Bahamas Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Daniel Johnson, will launch the Network.