Youth Standing up for Human Rights: Statement on International Human Rights Day

ON the occasion of the United Nations International Human Rights Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon government to recognise and value the contribution of youths in the fight for the respect of fundamental human rights. The 2019 theme for International Human Rights Day is “Youth standing up for human rights.”

The theme calls on everyone to empower youths for a better future. This can only be realised when there is protection from human rights violations, economic growth and an enabling environment.

Across the globe, youths are breaking barriers posed by discrimination, stereotypes, exclusion and therefore proving that they can excel, when there is an enabling environment. ZLHR is heartened that youths are standing up, taking part and playing key roles in decision-making. They are increasingly contributing in the fight against climate change, taking part in activities to promote respect for human rights among other interventions.

Young people, who have always been major drivers of political, economic and social transformation are playing a frontline role in grassroots mobilisation for positive change and bring fresh ideas and solutions for a better world.

In many countries, including Zimbabwe, commitments made to youths remain unfulfilled and there remains a litany of harmful practices that hold them back from reaching their full potential.

In today’s world, young people are often marginalised and grapple with difficulties in accessing and enjoying their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Girls and boys continue to drop out of school as their parents face economic hardships. Obtaining identity documents and birth registration cards continues to be a challenge.

The practice of child marriages is still rife. The dire humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe arising from natural disasters, a failing economy, poor service delivery including shortages of water and other basic necessities is compromising the realisation of youths’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

For youths to effectively stand up for human rights, ZLHR therefore calls upon government to:

  • Take every step to fulfil its human rights obligations and create a conducive environment that allows youths to pursue their dreams and therefore realise their full potential;
  • Take measures including affirmative action programmes to ensure that youths have access to appropriate education and training and have opportunities to associate and be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life.
  • Adopt policies and measures, review and immediately align laws with the Constitution and incorporate the best interests of youths particularly the girl child.
  • To afford youths opportunities for employment and other avenues to economic empowerment and implement mechanisms that seek to protect youths from abuse, exploitation and any form of discrimination, inequality and ill-treatment.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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