blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
GYC had the chance to attend the NGO (civil society) meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on October 24, 2012, and to ask a question about youth and GYC’s particular style of work, and how it could play out in the OHCHR’s work overall.
The meeting began with High Commissioner Pillay’s review of the OHCHR’s 2011-2012 activities included the workings of the Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review, and, a great increase in the number of instances in which human rights (and the OHCHR) is gaining strength at the UN and in “post-2015 development” discussions. Details can be found via the OHCHR.
GYC’s Executive Director, Jesse Hawkes, asked a question about whether youth are involved in the activities of the OHCHR at the policy making level, or in the UPR/HRC processes, and he asked whether idealistic, intercultural youth initiatives for human rights can make a difference at the UN, the same way we have seen them make a difference in Rwanda and the USA through our small intercultural youth initiatives, connecting them to civil society and policy makers.
High Commissioner Pillay responded that the commission cares about including the voices of youth (“on every Human Rights Day — December 10th — there are young people who address the Human Rights Council in Geneva”) and the High Commissioner regularly meets with youth in her travels. Mainly, she said that youth have the ability to speak out on Twitter and Facebook and that the OHCHR is listening to them via these mechanisms (“we post what they are saying on our webpage). She wants more of this, particularly from youth in the USA who can demand that their government signs the Commission on the Rights of the Child.
Finishing her response to our question, she said, “Good luck with where you are going on this. I fully support it.”