Over 50 participants from diverse backgrounds and ages came together on Tuesday 11th December at Initiatives of Change UK’s London Centre to mark International Human Rights Day. Amina Khalid, IofC’s Head of Sustainable Communities Programme, welcomed the audience with an introduction to the theme: ‘How do we build trust and promote human rights in such challenging times?’ She said ‘there has never been a time more important than the present to build trust across the world’s divide… trust takes years to build, seconds to break and sometimes forever to repair’. IofC is very pleased to be hosting this event with our partners; International Centre For Eritrean Refugees And Asylum Seekers (ICERAS) and United Against Inhumanity.
The theme fitted nicely with the United Nations universal call to action, ‘Stand Up for Human Rights,’ and their aim to celebrate the potential of youth as ‘constructive agents of change, to amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights.’
Basmala Ahmed Saaed, a young ambassador of peace and a human rights activist spoke with passion and vigour, far beyond her 15 years. Her presence showcased how youth all over the world stand up for human rights every day. Basmala believes it is the small acts of kindness and humanity that we can all make that bring about change. Her raised voice commanded the attention of the room, and took heed to what she had to say: ‘all pain is human pain”.
The evening opened with keynote speaker David Wardrop, Chairman of the Westminster United Nations Association. He took the audience back in time by giving a detailed history and explanation of the ‘rocky path’ to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how it serves to remind us of the importance of inclusion.
Founder and Director of Impact X Limited, Maxton Scotland spoke about globalization, education and ‘the importance of human rights for all’. He is a self-professed ‘young person who loves change’. He was nominated for the most senior youth position at the United Nations – Secretary General Envoy on Youth and a real champion for youth development. He has consistently called for more representation of young people at leadership level, promoting critical thinking, equality and the sustainable development goals.
Maxton asked the question what is the best way out of our dilemma? He told the audience; ‘We need each other, a new focus, new thought patterns, new innovative ways to raise awareness of human rights violations.’ His closing remark invited the audience to reach out to someone of a different generation and use this moment to share thoughts and ideas.
The final speaker of the evening was Abdul Basit Syed, Founder Chairman for World Humanitarian Drive and Director of Universal Peace Federation UK, who addressed the need for moral education. Abdul encouraged the audience to hold hands and take an oath together. In unison the audience stated: ‘I understand human rights, we are all equal’.
He said: ‘People are stigmatised, we must overcome hatred, we must all work together to bring peace to this world. This requires sharing knowledge and promoting moral education that brings sustainable resource. When we share love, compassion, and wisdom, the core values of moral education, we can provide humanity with an immortal basis for peace and harmonious existence. We create an environment where people respect everyone’s rights. We must reach out to all community members’.
Only the night before the event, Abdul was in Geneva and a speaker at the 71st anniversary of the UDHR. He spoke about the significance to promote moral education as a way to build trust for understanding human rights, not least a countermeasure of mistrust. UN Secretary General António Guterres said ‘the world is suffering from a trust deficit’.
The event concluded with an inspirational reflection of the night and a vote of thanks from former Lord Mayor of Newcastle and a prominent long standing member of IofC, David Down.