"This Human Rights Day is special because we also celebrate 30 years of the Child Rights Convention. Children are yet growing and particularly vulnerable for their rights' abuses as they have yet few means to protect themselves. This is why the EU and the international community here in Geneva and elsewhere in the world has made it their responsibility to ensure that human and children's rights are respected and promoted everywhere in the world," said EU Ambassador Stevens in his welcome remarks.
Ambassador Stevens explained the work of the EU Delegation in Geneva and in particular highlighted the commitments of the EU in the Human Rights area, before our EU Human Rights experts took over to discuss topical human rights issues in depth in small groups. These topics included children's rights, women and girls' rights, freedom of expression & religion or belief, and human Rights and climate change.
As the world around us keeps evolving, so does the need for our rights to be adapted to new contexts: This is why after the workshops, students modelled an EU Ambassadorial Meeting to discuss "How to update the 71 year old UDHR?" that takes developments of the 21st century into consideration.
Students got the chance to meet one-on-one with the Ambassadors of the 28 EU countries and to share with them what they have learned in the workshops with EU experts. Likewise, Ambassadors explained in a personal exchange to the students their respective countries' Human Rights priorities. Altogether, students and Ambassadors modelled an Ambassadorial meeting where students actively participated in the plenary and represented "their" country's views but also their own ideas about how to better protect Human Rights in the future. The plenum was impressively chaired by one student in the role of the EU Ambassador!
High on the agenda featured the inclusion of climate change - rights to clean water & air - and consideration of advancing technologies in the UDHR, but also gender identity, LGBTQIA and women's rights. Children were very aware that rights should be extended to the online world and particular to social media, and wanted to expand the universal right to free education. Other fresh perspectives that Ambassadors took home from the discussion included ethical considerations around artificial intelligence, cyber security, but also the access to medication, freedom of speech, and a world free of hate speech. Students also noted that the UDHR should be published in a gender neutral wording.
Wrapping up at lunch time, the school kids mingled amongst each other and the Ambassadors over a sandwich lunch, before everyone left home with refreshing viewpoints in mind and new knowledge and awareness on both sides.
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