Sunday, May 10, 2009


It’s hard to believe that the world tour is over! In less than two months, we covered twelve countries, met with hundreds of people, held many events, and expanded Youth for Human Rights International enormously. From major dignitaries to orphaned children, we met with people from all walks of life and that is what it’s all about!

The yearly world tour is an essential component of our programs for several reasons. Firstly, it establishes exciting new partnerships with governments, NGOs, community groups, influential individuals and the media. This allows education and enforcement of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to grow very rapidly. We have found that meeting with people face-to-face is extremely valuable and can accomplish more than a chain of emails ever could! We also get to learn the specific issues of each place we visit and that helps us to determine what programs and materials will be most effective in those areas. It also allows people to communicate to us directly and ask important questions about our mission and the incredible document we promote.

The World Tour is also simply a lot of fun! Every stop along the way brings something new and exciting. We try to stay with local families wherever possible and we make it a point to really experience the culture of each place. This brings us closer to people and people closer to us, and that makes for a much richer experience. We can walk away from each country feeling like we got a true taste for what it is like and not just a tourist’s snapshot of some small attraction. It is also really wonderful to get to know the local Youth for Human Rights groups in each country. We help each other out and learn from each other in each place. And we make new friends everywhere we go!

We could not have asked for more successful tour this year. We were able to gain the support of several United Nations groups, multiple government officials, scores of community leaders, and thousands of individuals. In nearly every country, we held a Youth for Human Rights event and were covered extensively in the press, from newspapers in Barbados to national television in East Timor! With each stop, the momentum and success of Youth for Human Rights International grows, and thus education and respect of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights improves, step by step.

Though this is sadly the end of the 2009 world tour, it’s accomplishments
will live on for a long time, and the 2010 tour is already looking like it will be every bit as exciting! So stay tuned for more great news and more exciting tours from Youth for Human Rights International.

Now please enjoy this video we made for the World Tour called “Sharing the World.” Our idea was to create something this year that linked all the tour stops together and connected youth from around the world. Let us know what you think!

South Africa

South Africa was the perfect final stop for the 2009 World Tour. The Youth for Human Rights South Africa chapter has been active for years and has done some wonderful work to promote human rights education in South Africa. It was a pleasure to work with them and to help forward their goal of bringing human rights education to the youth of South Africa.

YHRI South Africa has worked with many schools to promote the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in at least one school they’ve reached, the children recite their thirty human rights every morning before class! They have also worked with arts groups and have emphasized making human rights education fun. At a Youth for Human Rights event organized at the Gauteng Province Legislature during our stay, a troupe of young gumboot dancers and a local drama group performed beautifully. It was wonderful to see the Youth for Human Rights message communicated through the arts so effectively.

The event featured some powerful speakers who discussed human rights in South Africa, Zimbabwe and beyond, illustrating the urgent need for human rights education. Dr. Mary Shuttleworth (Youth for Human Rights President and Founder) also gave a powerful speech and the audience of students, dignitaries and community leaders, was clearly very impressed and positively impacted by the event.

All in all, a lot was accomplished in South Africa and the World Tour stop served as a great boost to the local Youth for Human Rights chapter. Only fifteen years into democratic rule, South Africa is still rife with human rights abuses, so the work of YHRI South Africa is especially important. We look forward to seeing them grow and grow as they work to reach all the youth of South Africa!

Check out a few photos below from the South Africa tour stop, as well as a video of the gumboot dancers from the YHRI event.


We knew we were in good hands in Uganda from the moment we stepped off the plane. Several members of the Youth for Human Rights Uganda chapter managed to get a security escort so they could greet us right as we got off the plane and into the airport! After shuttling us through customs and immigration, we were treated to a youth brass band performance and a large Youth for Human Rights welcoming party. This was a special honor and a definite highlight to the tour. And things only got better and better from there!

The YHRI Uganda chapter has done incredible work in the last few years, led by their very capable president, Isaac Nsubuga and his executive staff. The chapter is currently translating the YHRI booklets and public service announcements into several local languages and they are even producing their own locally-focused public service announcements. The group holds regular meetings and events and they have had some major successes in promoting human rights awareness in Uganda.

Our stay in Kampala, the capital city, was most definitely action-packed. The YHRI Uganda team whisked us from meeting to meeting while managing to show us around the city and surrounding areas. They also hosted a wonderful YHRI event at a university featuring Dr. Shuttleworth as the keynote speaker, and they brought us to several outlying communities to meet YHRI supporters. We were very kindly hosted by a Ugandan family throughout our stay and were able to get a taste of the local culture (and cooking!) at its finest.

Overall, the Uganda stop on the World Tour was a huge success. We were able to gain many new YHRI supporters and establish some major government and NGO partnerships for the local team. This will help them to continue to improve the great work they’re already doing. You will certainly be hearing more news from YHRI Uganda in the near future!


Earlier this year, we received a special invitation to Geneva to participate in the United Nations Durban Review Conference, the follow-up to the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. We eagerly accepted and added Geneva to the 2009 World Tour itinerary. Several nations decided to boycott the conference due to political tensions and disagreements with the general program. But, as an organization that works with all people, regardless of belief or practice, we felt our universal message should not be withheld from any forum.

We attended meetings in the general assembly and were also able to see many interesting side events. There were many human rights groups at the event and we were able to connect with them and make new friendships, which will help bring YHRI to new audiences. We also met with many high-level officials and were able to pass out our materials to people who have the power to make major changes in their countries. It was an exciting environment at the conference and also a wonderful time to be in Geneva. The spring weather was exquisite and the city was bubbling with life.

Below are a few photos of some youth volunteers and a video from a performance given at the conference by a multiracial dance group from South Africa called the Surialanga Dance Company. The particular dance in the video is a South African gumboot dance combined with traditional Indian dance styles. Very fitting for the conference!


We were greeted very warmly in an unseasonably cold (and snowy) Moscow! The local Youth for Human Rights group surprised us at the airport with a welcoming party replete with flowers, flags, a human rights banner, and plenty of cheering young people! This was a great start to a really successful tour stop.

Human rights has been a contentious subject in Russia for a long time. The country has come a long way since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, but abuses are still commonplace. Nonetheless, we were well received by everyone we met, from government authorities to NGOs, schools, and community groups. All were interested in our message and clearly determined to improve human rights in Russia. Education was a major focus everywhere we went and we saw plenty of great initiatives to improve the lives of children.

We visited several schools during this five-day tour stop and were presented with some wonderful music and dance performances. One group we visited is devoted to excellence in the performing arts. Their students have won quite a few awards and have toured all over the world. They loved our United music video and PSAs and were clearly excited to have us at their school. We also visited another city arts school whose choir director is a big supporter of YHRI. After giving us a moving performance, the choir picked up our banner and sang a beautiful folk song as an encore. This was a special treat for sure. Have a look in the video below!

We also squeezed in a visit to the Red Square and were able to see many of the iconic images of Moscow. It is truly a spectacular city and we are proud that Youth for Human Rights is becoming a major presence in Russia.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Amman, the capital city of Jordan, was a very special world tour stop. This time of year the air fills with desert dust and the tan-colored buildings throughout the city glow beautifully in the sun. After weeks in Latin America and the Timor Sea area, it was a treat to see such an entirely different part of the world, both physically and culturally.

Jordan has an excellent human rights record and plenty of fantastic development statistics to boast of. Nonetheless, the people we spoke to were quick to recognize that there is always room for improvement, especially in the area of human rights. In meeting after meeting, the various officials and NGO leaders we met gave us hands-down support for what we're doing and were eager to find ways they could use our materials in their own projects. We found that many people were particularly interested in our annual youth summit. This is an event held every year to bring kids from around the world together to discuss human rights and the importance of educating youth about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Youth at a community afterschool program showed us some music they had produced as well as a radio show they recorded. The multimedia focus of the program has clearly taught the students some valuable computer skills. Some other students we met on our visit to a school for gifted children were especially interested in Dr. Shuttleworth’s experience as a human rights educator and asked many questions about the youth summit. They were aware of many human rights issues and wanted to know more about how Youth for Human Rights International is working to improve human rights around the world. It is very likely that one of those students will be at this year’s youth summit!

At the end of our stay, we were able to visit the largest mosque in Jordan and also a traditional restaurant located inside a castle. Both were very impressive and indicative of the rich culture of Jordan.

Below are a few photos from Amman as well as a video of a Jordanian musician we met at the above-mentioned castle. The instrument he’s playing is called an “oud”, in case you were wondering.

Darwin, Australia

The pressure was on in Darwin...we had less than forty-eight hours to meet our goal of introducing Youth for Human Rights to the local indigenous community. It didn’t help that we arrived on a holiday and nearly everything in the city was closed! But, we managed to get in touch with some local leaders who set up a meeting for us at an aboriginal home. We were warmly welcomed and had the opportunity to engage in an intimate discussion with a community leader and several of his family and friends. It was a very special opportunity to be able to openly discuss issues in the indigenous Australian community with these people. They also loved our public service announcements and booklets and announced their support.

Youth for Human Rights International has worked with aboriginal Australian communities in the past, but never in this part of the country. Human rights issues have been a persistent problem in aboriginal Australia, so this is a group we are strongly interested in reaching. The contacts we made in Darwin will help to bring human rights education to people that really need it. This is something we're very excited about.

Here are a few photos from Darwin, as well as a short excerpt from a song by some street performers we met in the city.