Belize Represented at United Nations’ Human Rights Youth Summit in New York
Belize was represented at the United Nations’ 17th annual Human Rights Youth Summit in New York, USA. The event, organized by Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI), saw the participation of sixty youth delegates from 46 countries who spoke on the need for human rights education, and youth empowerment. Cultural Ambassador, Cynthia Ellis-Topsey and Community Development Coordinator, Noreen Hulse Martinez, both represented Belize at the event, and explained how they intend to follow up after the summit.
Cynthia Ellis Topsey, Cultural Ambassador: “My takeaway as we hit the road running coming back was to reach out to the children, reach out to the young people, and to ask them how do they see us elders, governments, and institutions? How have we been stewards of their lives, of their future? How have we allowed the destruction of our environment? Did the garbage, the issues of climate change, how have we supported these children and these young people to learn the language of their indigenous cultures? Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo, Kriol, Belizean. How are we engaging them now ? How are we involving them ? How are we going to create a space to hold their hands? How are we going to have a Ministry of Youth that shows at least 10 young people in the leadership? How are we going to change the government representation where beside each Minister of Government we have shadowing them a young person as a leader who can be part of being mentored and making decisions now for their present and for their future.”
Noreen Hulse Martinez, Community Development Coordinator: “My goal from coming back from the summit is for us, along with other stakeholders, community workers, leaders, politicians, so that we could have a youth summit in Belize. Where the youths would be the ones speaking for themselves and let them know their real rights of human rights. End of the day, human rights is just a word. Many of the young people just know it’s just a word. We need to put them now in meaning and in meaningful position where the kids, they could learn and feel well protected in their country.”
One highlight at the summit was the declaration by Costa Rica’s representative that the schools have now incorporated human rights as part of their curriculum. This makes Costa Rica the first nation in the world that has a federal mandate to teach human rights in schools. The summit was held on July 6 and 7 in the UN’s Economic and Social Council Chamber.