To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), many youth (from a heterogeneous network of nationwide ethnic groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) converged on EISERVI, Biyem Assi, Yaoundé, to brainstorm on issues surrounding global human rights practice, with Cameroon in spotlight. The interactive conference, dubbed, ‘stand up for human rights’, which took place on Saturday 12th May, 2018 – featured a video presentation from www.youthsforhumanrights.org, in which participants were treated to the 30 articles of the UDHR. Besides, as current or prospective human rights advocates, those present committed themselves to the course by recording their voices through the online portal, www.standup4humanrights.org/en – a motion expected to continue in the days ahead.
During the panel discussion featured at the conference, some national and internationally-recognized human rights laws and organs (and their modus operandi) – like: the Earth Charter Initiative; UDHR; AU Charter; UN Charter; National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms Cameroon; etc – were brought to the attention of participants. Panelists and the audience also sought to understand why many people are still grossly unaware of the UDHR (hence their basic human rights entitlements and despite existence of the UDHR since 1948. In a contemporary context shrouded by the paradox where different countries, world leaders, and or citizens still overtly violate human rights, the discussion also verified what actions governments worldwide were taking to implement/respect basic human rights. The discussions continued with how governments, civil society, and individuals could contribute towards improving human rights experience, while equally ensuring that those charged with the duty of implementing and respecting human rights do so to the latter. Besides, ways of improving citizens’ awareness on basic human rights; and how to stand up for one’s rights; among others were proposed. Quizzed at the end, on what their take-home message was, some participants gave their impressions about the event. To Vania Umenjoh, ‘…the take home message was that as individuals, we have a part to play in promoting & defending human rights…within the legality of our respective contexts. ‘I gathered a lot, among which were: the various means of…promoting and protecting human rights…’, Yaouba divulged.
Likewise, Franktherese Enow stated that despite the errant disregard of some citizens’ human rights: to stand up for such rights, one needed to be conscious of their existence, and that human rights were inalienable (irrespective of status) nationally and internationally. ‘I learnt about the Earth Charter Initiative for the very first time, and I’ll find out more about how to enhance its mission…’, Anne Ando. Suffice it to underscore that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document (translated into over 500 languages) for upholding human rights globally–– that was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (resolution 217A) in Paris on 10th December, 1948; setting out for the first time, a common standard for the universal achievements of human rights for all peoples and nations.
Written by: ECYL, Che George Neba