This year’s event was held at Salahaddin University, and was attended by students of the Colleges of Law and Politics, representatives of civil society, parliament members, university professors, and media. In his video message, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Raed Al Hussein, called on every individual to take action to protect human rights. “It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity," the High Commissioner said.
Dr. Sherzan Aziz, Dean of the Law College, opened the event, noting the importance of education of all people of all ages as fundamental to ensuring human rights principles are respected and protected. The Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, Mr. Jaafar Eminky, noted that respect for human rights will be key to ending the current crisis in Iraq. He highlighted domestic and gender based violence as a challenge confronting the region, noting that more efforts are needed to change harmful practices through better public awareness. Mr. Diya Butros, Head of the IBHR, focused on the role of education and invited universities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to consider incorporating human rights courses into their curricula and to establish special human rights departments.
Francesco Motta, Director of the UNAMI Human Rights Office and Iraq Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized the importance of freedom of expression and the right to receive and impart information as fundamental in a democratic society. He called upon youth to engage in a tolerant and open dialogue on all issues affecting them, and to promote space for the free exchange of ideas. President of Erbil International University, Mr. Mohamad Ihsan, emphasized the essential role that education plays for improving society and reflected on the need for a thorough reform of the educational system in the region.
Following the guest presentations, the floor was opened to students to ask questions of the panel. As part of the event, UNAMI HRO launched a booklet containing the nine core UN human rights treaties translated into Kurdish Sorani – the first ever such compilation of international human rights treaties in the Kurdish Sorani language.
Human Rights Day, observed every year, commemorates the day - 10 December - on which, in 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed Resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.