So, You Want to Be the Next High Commissioner? 2015 – Results and Follow up

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2015 From 20 to 24 July 2015, WFUNA held its fifth annual human rights training for young UNA members at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  Twenty-three participants from all over the world attended five days of sessions, which included presentations from various diplomats, UN and NGO staff as well as two days of training in project management. […]


From 20 to 24 July 2015, WFUNA held its fifth annual human rights training for young UNA members at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  Twenty-three participants from all over the world attended five days of sessions, which included presentations from various diplomats, UN and NGO staff as well as two days of training in project management.  The main objective of the training was to empower youth and equip them with the necessary skills to design and plan their own human rights project, to be implemented in coordination with their UNA and in line with national priorities. 

After the training, participants went back to their countries to start developing and implementing a Human Rights project. Participants will submit a mid-term report with their project ideas and implemented activities in January and a final report in April.

WFUNA is assessing their projects against a list of criteria – feasibility; sustainability; coordination with UNAs; relevance; impact; and application of tools acquired during the training.  

WINNER: Kaja Primorac from UNA-Slovenia Big Hearts of a Small Nation 

Kaja chose to focus on two main critical issues in Slovenia –xenophobia towards foreigners and the lack of students’ and children’s awareness of human rights. The project aims to inform children of their rights and raise awareness about human rights amongst Slovenian students.

With around 20 volunteers working on the project, the team organizes trainings for teachers and workshops for students and children.The team advocates at the global level and already gained support from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports as well as the Slovenian National Commission of UNESCO. 16 workshops have been put in place and a few more will be organized this year. So far, 40% of teachers in Slovenia have taken part in the seminars for teachers. Kaja and her team distributed about 1.200 Collections of Human Rights Documents – books containing international documents on human rights, with a focus on the European refugee crisis. 

The project reached 1.500 pupils in Slovenian elementary schools and high schools; 150 teachers from elementary schools and high schools; and 1.200 librarians in Slovenian libraries. 

Vardine Sargsyan from UNA-Armenia The Socially Engaged Workshop Series on Gender Equality

Vardine has implemented an original project on gender equality, addressing the issues of discrimination against women, domestic violence and social pressure in Armenia. Through this project, Vardine engaged more people in platforms that promote gender equality and reduce gender-based social pressure through awareness campaigns. This is the continuation of her previous campaign on gender stereotypes “Yes, I am in”. 

Vardine is working closely with ArtAct, a group of artists and activists that carries out creative actions against violence and harassment. She worked closely with 14 students who participated in the project and conducted workshop series starting in December 2015. She also designed an awareness campaign on gender equality in cooperation with local NGOs dealing with women’s rights, which will launch at the beginning of next year. 

This project benefited from the financial support of UNA-Georgia and UNA-Sweden.

Anne-Marie Thorell Brandbyge & Simone Hein Nielsen from UNA-Denmark The Refugees’ crisis in Europe 

Anne-Marie and Simone have decided to focus on the current issue of the Refugees’ crisis in Europe. They have observed a limited knowledge of the rights of Refugees amongst the Danish population and aim at addressing the lack of education on these matters. Through awareness raising, they hope that their project will contribute to further developing open-minded attitudes towards refugees. 

They are currently putting in place a Model United Nations for students. They will organize a simulation of the General Assembly of the United Nations in which students will each represent one country and discuss the Refugees’ crisis in order to reach a consensus and vote a final resolution. The students will also be provided with a presentation on the UN system and the role of the General Assembly.

Isatou Bah from UNA-Sweden The film festival 2016

Isatou had the original idea to hold a film festival and raise awareness on the rights of people of African Descent. Together with her team, she works cooperatively with the student Association of African Affairs (AAFRA) in Sweden, aiming to spread knowledge on the issue of identity and discuss the three themes of the International Decade for people of the African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development. 

Last December, Isatou organized a screening of the documentary “Bound”. According to the evaluation, 80% of the visitors had not heard of the documentary and were impressed by its usefulness: “Since I am Swedish it is hard to imagine and understand these situations but still I care and want to understand this situation and follow up on these important discussions.”

The film festival was held from 16 to 24 February 2016. The documentaries explored the issue of identity for people of the African Descent, the historical legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism. The panels were balanced between academics and activists to broaden the discussions and bring in different reflections about the issue. UNA-Sweden experienced lively discussions and an extensive knowledge exchange between panelists and visitors. 

More information here.

Hlengisile Jiyane from UNA- Zimbabwe Walk in my shoes

Hlengisile chose to focus on the children’s right to an adequate standard of living(Article 27, Convention on the Right of the Child). After conducting several surveys, she realized that most children in rural areas go to school without shoes or jerseys during the winter. Through her project “Walk in my Shoes”, she aims to assist 100 rural-based school children have access to proper clothes by June 2016

In partnership with 2 Zimbabwean schools, Hlengisile will (1) provide jerseys and shoesto 100-150 primary school pupils from vulnerable families; (2) implement trainings in schools to equip the children with the skills to use local materials to make their own shoes and jerseys; and (3) create a “Walk in my Shoes” club within UNA-Zimbabwe which will advocate at the national level and raise awareness on this issue amongst international organizations, schools and universities.

Kenyi Emmanuel from UNA-South Sudan The Teen Voice Project

Kenyi designed a project whose aim is to address the lack of awareness of human rights amongst children and teens. He chose to focus on the burning issues of child marriages, GBVs, and HIV in South Sudan. The Initiative for Community Empowerment (ICE) in partnership with the Teen Voice Project produce monthly school magazines that target youth, their parents and school teachers. 

In December 2015, magazines were distributed on the occasion of the World AIDS Day and International Human Rights Day. By January 2016, UNA-South Sudan distributed 2,400 magazines to 4 primary schools and 3 secondary schools in Juba. On 13 February 2016, over 700 magazines were distributed to UNA members and members from national youth organizations participating in the Festival of the Nile in Juba.

Jane Ndunge Muthoka from Kenya #silenceisnotgolden 

In response to the recent recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to raise awareness on the existing legislation on gender-based violence, Jane launched a social media awareness campaign to highlight the scope and effects of violence against women. The campaign aims at (1) enhancing public education to change the harmful attitudes from which sexual and gender-based violence thrive, and (2) challenge the under-reporting of rape and sexual violence owing to stigmatization.

The campaign named #silenceisnotgolden has virtually reached 4,569 individuals so far. Together with her team, Jane will focus on disseminating information concerning legal instruments and reporting procedures for survivors of sexual violence. 500 women and girls in schools are targeted to receive pamphlets containing the Kenya Sexual Offences Act of 2006, The National Gender and Equality Commission Act of 2011, and The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. 

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