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Where do human rights begin?

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

 – Eleanor Roosevelt

It has been over 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been adopted. Still, many people all over the world still experience in their daily lives how much basic Human Rights are under pressure. Inequality, discrimination, no freedom of speech, religion, press…There is so much work to do to get human rights accepted, enforced, spread. And sometimes all we need is action in small places close to home.

So, what can YOU do, to make a difference? How can YOUR actions make human rights a bigger part of our global conversations and actions today?

Listen to the actions of three inspiring speakers the evening before Human Rights day. Be inspired and join the dialogue.


  • Friday Odeh is Country Director for Accountability Lab Nigeria, a mentor to the WEF Abuja Global Shapers and he is volunteering with the UN Youth Association of Nigeria. His field of work focuses on social justice, youth development and the governance sector. Accountability Lab is an innovative non-profit supporting change-makers and responsible government leaders, by running multiple awards on the anti-corruption scene and involving young people in governance and law.
  • Nompendulo Mkatshwa is a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly for the African National Congress. Previously, she was leading the #FeesMustFall movement as the Student Representative Council President at Wits University and has a keen interest in furthering the rights of the marginalized and gender studies.  Furthermore, she is Non-Executive Director of the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance and a founding Director of the Yenza foundation.
  • Samiha Zaman is a human rights defender at ODHIKAR – Human Rights organization in Bangladesh with a focus on enforced disappearances. She has also worked for the FIDH – International Federation of for Human Rights during which she has gained profound understanding of the rule of law within the framework of human rights. She will soon graduate with a Master’s degree in Developments Studies.

Event moderator is Deborah Abrahams.

Event is co-organised with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, RVO and Humanity House.

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