The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has said young people play a key role in the protection and promotion of human rights.
The commission made the remarks as it joined the Government of Zimbabwe, the United Nations (UN) family and other Development Partners, Civil Society and all Stakeholders in commemorating the 2019 International Human Rights Day.
International Human Rights Day is commemorated globally each year on the 10th of December since 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly recognised the importance of human rights through the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) soon after the horrific experiences of Second World War which claimed millions of lives.
This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme, “Youth Standing up for Human Rights”. ZHRC said the theme recognises young people as key players in the protection and promotion of human rights as enjoined by the Zimbabwean Constitution, regional and international instruments and the African Youth Charter.
“ZHRC believes there is no better social group to assist the Commission fulfil its Constitutional mandate than young people due to their zeal, their energy and their collective capacities. Given their numerical superiority in the country’s population profile, young people can drive positive change in inculcating a culture of human rights in our country,” read the statement.
It emerged that the Commission has made tremendous efforts to integrate youth-focused organisations such as National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) and the Zimbabwe Youth Council into the Special Interest Groups Thematic Working Group of the Commission which currently focuses on the promotion and protection of rights of four groups of people; youth, persons with disabilities, older persons, and indigenous minorities.
Rights have corresponding duties and responsibilities. The theme “Youth Standing up for Human Rights” places an obligation on young people to engage in responsible behaviour and conduct. For instance, young people were urged to shun all forms of violence and refrain from being used to oppress other people, engaging in political violence and other acts inconsistent with human rights principles and values of respect for human dignity, honesty, justice, fairness, peace and equality.
“Similarly, in exercising their claim to socio-economic rights and entitlements, young people ought to be human rights ambassadors by being hard working. They must be exemplary role models, refrain from abusing drugs and alcohol, shun delinquent behaviour, lead dignified lives, avoid inappropriate sexual relations and early marriages, and instead channel their energies to eliminating harmful cultural practices. Society expects young people to lead efforts to eliminate all forms of violence in both private and public places.
“The Commission takes this opportunity to advocate for youth wings of all political parties to actively embrace human rights. ZHRC calls on the Ministries of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development; Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; and Higher and Tertiary Education as well as Training and Tertiary Institutions to ensure that human rights become a cross-cutting theme in all youth programmes and curricula at universities, teacher training colleges, polytechnics and other training institutions,” ZHRC added.