On December 10, the global community marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), celebrating the enduring relevance of this landmark document in the face of contemporary challenges such as climate change and the digital divide.
Today’s spotlight shines on the contributions of 12 young activists, selected for their impactful human rights initiatives at the local level, as they present the Human Rights 75 Youth Declaration.
Hailing from diverse backgrounds, including Racheal Kalinaki of Uganda, Roger Kodzo Klomegah of Togo, and Courteney Mukoyi of Zimbabwe, these youth leaders have played a pivotal role in shaping the future of human rights. Their collective efforts culminate in a high-level event scheduled in Geneva on December 11-12, showcasing the significance of their work.
Speaking in an interview the trio shared their experiences and challenges in championing human rights. Courteney Mukoyi emphasized the importance of including young people in decision-making, stating, “We are young; we know what it means not to have a voice in platforms that matter.”
For Racheal Kalinaki, representing the issues of people with disabilities at the UN was the realization of a dream. She highlighted the positive impact of her involvement, noting, “I feel that my voice is being heard.”
Beyond individual narratives, the contributions of African youth to the UDHR and its anniversary celebrations mark significant milestones. Seventy-five years ago, most of Africa was under colonial rule, with limited representation in the UN. Today, African nations stand as sovereign states, inspired by the ideals of the UDHR.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, along with subsequent agreements, reflects a uniquely African perspective on human rights, bolstering the continent’s commitment to these principles. Today, African youth actively address historical and current human rights challenges, advocating for digital equality, climate action, and political inclusion.
As Roger Kodzo Klomegah rightly puts it, “We need to work on conflicts, climate crises, and youth unemployment—they are the key challenges we face.” In the spirit of the UDHR, African youth continue to drive positive change, preserving and advancing the precious heritage of human rights for generations to come.