Analytics and Interview

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Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Two human rights workshops took place in Kyiv


Two seminars took place in Kyiv on the weekend, 15 and 16 October 2011. On Saturday, 13 young activists learned about human rights and human rights advocacy, and on Sunday, a slightly different group of 16 activists learned about the human integrity and education. Since there were two seminars, their programs and goals were different.

During the basic course on human rights, the participants learned about the philosophy, ideas, norms and standards of human rights, for the first time they thought whether natural and inalienable rights are really natural and inalienable and who is a human? "A Biped without feathers," - as Plato said, or a highly moral, rational being? What are the rights and democracy? The participants also examined the relationship of human rights with the responsibilities of the state. The young activists studied a vertical relationship of the state and human rights and thought about the issue of admissibility of state intervention in the horizontal relations between citizens. After admitting the state into a family, we may completely forget how to resolve conflicts on our own; and a state in the form of a district police officer often fails to solve these problems.

The theme of public interest advocacy began with making up a list of options of behavior with the monster, who throws little children into a river. That’s where the group had fun, offering a lot of active, creative solutions to the problem: to go to the forest and hang oneself, to find another monster for fishing children out of the river, to organize the supply of children to the monster, to teach children to throw each other into the river, etc. But after a fun game with a monster the participants received a list of common actions applicable for problem solving, they had a serious discussion on the definition of social problems, public, corporate and private interest, they also learnt about nine and a half steps and monitoring, various types of actions, strategies and tactics for public interest advocacy.

Most of the participants attended a second day seminar on human integrity and education, which was even more intense. As it turned out, a little fascist and anti-fascist co-exist in each one of us, they wage a constant war with each other, often a fascist tells the truth, trying to gain control over human behavior; and the word tolerance is the medical term. During the workshop, for the first time many participants thought about the reasons for the victory of fundamentalism over humanism, the distinctions of anti-fascists from human rights defenders, they also asked themselves what to do and, of course, why.

What followed is even more exciting! The values of human rights (equality, freedom, justice, nonviolence) oppose modern fascism. But how well and how equal are these values perceived by us? Long ago people agreed that 1 minute equals 60 seconds, but not a single participant managed to stand 60 seconds exactly without looking at watch. This means that everyone feels time individually; and it’s ridiculous to talk about the inalienability of fundamental rights and freedoms recorded in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In addition, people agreed upon human rights much later than upon counting time.

How fragile is this concept, how differently do we understand it? There are many dual situations and bywords in our life: "Only a woman can truly understand another woman. The minority always strives to join the majority". Every participant took up his/her position and backed it with reasonable arguments, but there are no simple answers to difficult questions. Someone's personal experience tells them one thing and the mind tells another thing, and someone holds the position "that has nothing to do with me”.

Within the block “education” the young activists learned about the assertion “if you are to learn something, you can do this only in the area of discomfort”. So the participants had a real opportunity to plunge into this area in order to verify this assertion in practice, they also learned about the “pyramid of needs” and the “triangle of force”.

The workshops ended by awarding to the participants the certificates of the International School of Human Rights and Civic Actions, Human Integrity and Education.

The honorary president of the International Youth Human Rights Movement Andrey Yurov was a coach of these workshops.

Participants’ comments: "It is a pity that yesterday was yesterday. I am so eager to continue educational activities and it is important not to hurt people, to reach out to their consciousness".

The workshops of the School of Human Rights and Civic Actions and the School of Human Integrity and Education are regularly held on the territory of Ukraine by the International Youth Human Rights Movement. The admission of participants for the next seminars is now open. For additional information, look on the web-site:

Anna Martynyuk, YHRM Participant