10 December 2019, GENEVA – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights“: the words of the first Article of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights are perhaps the most resonant and cited of all international agreements ever signed. Year after year, we commemorate the Human Rights Day, celebrating human rights, insisting that they are inalienable entitlements to all people, not gender nor age-specific, not particular to any ethnic or religious group. And yet, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman Ambassador Ghazi Jomaa underlines, the international community is still confronted with its chronic problems and human rights abuses, oftentimes aggravated by protracted conflicts, expanding poverty, accelerating climate change impacts and beyond. Furthermore, he observes that ideologies anchored in hate and prejudice continue to undermine human rights worldwide and attack our shared humanity. In such times, it has become vital to promote mutual understanding, tolerance and compassion, leading to empathy and celebration of diversity, which are the true gateways to lasting peace.

The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day is Youth Standing Up for Human Rights, a tribute to the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of a Child – and a further occasion to defend all these boys and girls that keep falling victims of conflicts and wars, forced labour and trafficking, homicide and abuse. The Geneva Centre’s Chairman insists: violations of children’s rights and human rights are more than personal tragedies. They are alarm bells warning of a much bigger crisis, a crisis that threatens the future of the world’s largest ever seen generation of children and adolescents.

In this regard, the Geneva Centre continues to stress the need to empower children and youth, to ensure equal access to education, to justice, to employment opportunities and, above all, to full participation in society, with the young voices being heard at all levels. In the recent panel debate “Enhancing Access to Justice for Children” held by the Centre in September 2019 at the UN, it was reiterated that if young age is no barrier to experiencing the worst disregards of human rights, then young age should never be seen as an obstacle for obtaining justice and reparation.

Chairman Ghazi Jomaa reaffirms that as adults, we imperatively need to listen to youth with due respect, value their experiences, encourage them to fully participate in the various domains of society. For, inevitably, it will be in their trajectory to see human progress over the next years rise or fall.

As it was observed during the World Conference “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights” organized by the Geneva Centre on 25 June 2018 at the UN in Geneva, youth have to be empowered to shape their own futures and mitigate a perceived sense of powerlessness, to fill the vacuity in their lives wherever it exits.

The Geneva Centre is proud to announce the upcoming launch of an eponymous two-volume publication on the World Conference, which compiles the words of wisdom of 35 eminent personalities, including world religious leaders, visionary statesmen and prominent academic experts. Moreover, in his message to the World Conference, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the participants “let us defend our common humanity. Let us unite for equal rights for all without discrimination”. On this Human Rights Day, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman echoes these inspiring words, and underlines that the continuous work towards respect for all human rights should always involve the young generation. After all, youth is the hope and the key to a more just and peaceful world.