Circling the Globe in the Name of Human Rights

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 15th annual Youth for Human Rights International World Educational Tour for Peace traveled 35,000 miles (56,420 km) to promote human rights through education.

Youth for Human Rights International World Tour in Mexico

In the 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) President, completed her 15th Youth for Human Rights World Educational Tour to foster peace through human rights education.

The group, founded in 2001, has a unique role in the human rights community: It concentrates on educating youth on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) so they can understand and defend their rights and the rights of others.

There is little question about the state of human rights in the world today or its impact on children.

Educating children on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers them with the knowledge that they are entitled to such things as education, safety, the right to be treated fairly when they enter the workforce, and the right to chose whom they marry. It does this by letting them know that they live in a world where abuses against the UDHR are unacceptable. And by infusing human rights education into cities and countries the world over, the goal is to create a generation of human rights advocates who will understand their rights and responsibilities as adults. 

But how to make the UDHR understandable to children?

Youth for Human Rights International solved this by developing youth-friendly educational materials: booklets, videos, interactive activities that bring the UDHR to life for young people, and educator guides that make it simple for anyone to deliver human rights education.

Dr. Shuttleworth, a compassionate educator and passionate human rights advocate, has traveled 590,000 miles on the 15 consecutive annual Youth for Human Rights World Educational Tours, where she has met with officials, educators and youth and helped to establish hundreds of YHRI clubs and chapters in 90 countries. 

This year’s world tour was particularly noteworthy as it was part of the Youth for Human Rights celebration of the 70th anniversary of the UDHR.

The Tour launched in February 2018 from YHRI headquarters in Los Angeles. Dr. Shuttleworth traveled to San Jose and other cities in Costa Rica; Banjul, The Gambia; New Delhi, India; Taipei, Taiwan; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Washington, D.C., and has just completed the final leg of the journey, in Puebla, Mexico.

Highlights of the 15th Annual Human Rights World Educational Tour

In Costa Rica: The tour formed a YHRI chapter and launched pilot educational projects in three schools that are now using the YHRI human rights education package to teach the UDHR to all their students. The Tour met with former Costa Rica President and Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez and government officials including representatives of the Youth Council and Vice Ministry of Peace.

In The Gambia: President Adama Barrow met with the Tour and welcomed them to the country. Next were a series of human rights workshops in one elementary and four secondary schools and meetings with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council to coordinate future activities.

In India: The Tour held the 6th annual YHRI South Asia Regional Summit in New Delhi attended by youth delegates from Afghanistan, Nepal and cities across India. The two-day Summit was attended by government officials, nongovernmental organizations, educators and representatives of law enforcement. The Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission of India spoke at the Summit and acknowledged the work of Youth for Human Rights.

In Taiwan (ROC): The Tour held a three-day East Asia Regional Youth Summit under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Agency of Corrections and the Taipei City Bureau of Education. Youth delegates representing India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal and Sri Lanka attended and were joined by youth delegates who traveled to the region from the United States and Argentina.

In Cambodia: The Tour arrived in time to celebrate the Khmer New Year and met with educators, the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In the United States: The tour held a three-day North American Human Rights Youth Summit in Washington, D.C., at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill and the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office. Outstanding YHRI volunteers received U.S. Presidential Volunteer Service Awards for their contribution to human rights education. The final event of the North American Summit was a human rights rock concert on the National Mall in front of Lincoln Memorial.

In Mexico: The final stage of this year’s tour was the 4th Latin American Regional Summit, hosted by the House of Congress of the State of Puebla and attended by youth delegates from Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia and 13 Mexican states. The President of the Congress of Puebla opened the program which was also attended by the First Lady of Puebla.

An Entire Year of Human Rights Activities to Mark the 70th Anniversary of the UDHR

Youth for Human Rights International began their celebration of the UDHR 70th Anniversary Year on International Human Rights Day 2017. YHRI chapters in 40 nations organized 176 events in 104 cities attended by over 24,000 people.

United Nations headquarters in New York will host the 15th annual International Human Rights Summit of Youth for Human Rights International July 5-7. Stellar young human rights advocates, selected from hundreds of applicants, will represent their countries at this three-day program, which includes the presentation of the annual YHRI Human Rights Hero Awards, seminars, and briefings by U.N. Ambassadors and human rights icons. Youth delegates will brief one another and those attending on their human rights education activities and their most successful actions in accomplishing their goals. Delegates will attend workshops to help them hone the skills they need to improve the reach and success of their campaigns. The summit is co-organized by international nonprofits affiliated with the United Nations including Airline Ambassadors International, several permanent missions to the United Nations, and the Human Rights Office of the Church of Scientology International. The Church sponsors Youth for Human Rights and makes its educational materials available free of charge.


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