Human Rights Council in Geneva

April 5, 2014

Here are two reflections of some of the young women who participated in the Human Rights Council in Geneva (March 3-28) as part of an ongoing internship with WFWP Int’l.We posted this picture earlier, here are now two of the reflections, by Jimin Millet-Park and Viola Hara.:Reflection 1: Jimin Millet-Park:Today, the first day of my internship at UN started with the 25th Human Rights Council High level opening session. The presence of Ban Ki Moon impressed me a lot for he has been one of my role models. There was also high commissioner Navi Pillay and many other presidents and delegates representing each country. They talked about fundamental freedom of human rights and some global issues particularly about Syria. Many of the speakers emphasized the need of cooperation of all delegates and to encourage not only discussions but also actions. The rights of women and children were also stressed. Following the opening session, I attended to side-events on 'rights of the child'. Personally, what was more interesting than the actual discussion was the video presentation at the end. Visually seeing the children actually appealing for their rights to change their circumstances, for their rights to speak, and how their effort actually reached to UN and to the ears of the people working there impressed me. The children have their rights as well to express their views. As the speakers said, we got to pay attention to the voice of the children because the children who have no voice cannot challenge injustice nor have any rights; "They can never be ignored" (secretary of human rights council). Then, I was interested to go listen to a session on the 'International Actions with the view to abolishing the death penalty'. In my opinion, I agree with the existence of the death penalty but I wanted to hear from the ones who have opposite opinions to me. I learned that actually the death penalty does not really affect in the case of serious crime. In other words, it is not effective at deteriorating serious crimes. Also, the role of judges were addressed; judges are the actual ones who make the decision and most of them have never experienced prison and that they should have a better sense of what they are doing. I agree with the last idea. But I still think of enormous amount of tax that are going to the prison for the accomodation of the criminals and also the sentiments of the victims' family. It would be interesting if they could hold further discussion on this issue. Lastly, I went back to the continuation of the opening session where I heard the rest of the voices of the delegates from Slovenia, U.K., Italy, etc. To end the day, I visited the exposition of ' too young to wed: child brides'. There were many photos of the actual child brides and to see them was heartbreaking and shocking. I could not believe a 6-year-old girl could be married and there is someone who would like to marry her... and also there was a huge age gap between the girl and the husband.. for example there was a "husband"(if we may call it) who is 60 years old.. while the child was only about 10 years old. This was an event that aroused me the importance and seriousness of the protection and helps for these children. Overall, it was a hectic day and really fun and interesting day to discover and adventure UN. So excited that I fainted for the first time in my life in the public so dramatically. I was scared at that moment but after all, it was embarrassing and funny.Jimin ParkReflection 2: Viola Hara:Monday, the third of MarchTuesday, the fourth of MarchThe politicians from numerous countries present their countries, their achievements, state their future aims and express their political views in terms of human rights. We saw many prominent politicians, who you only know from the television, including Ban Ki Moon, the president from Tunisia, the foreign affairs Minister of Russia, Lavrov, who gave interesting speeches. It is interesting to make connections between the current news and their statements.Almost every Minister mentions the human rights violations in the Republic of Korea, Syria and Ukraine. I also found some statements contradicting to what I read and saw in the news. The foreign affairs minister of Switzerland emphasized their utmost effort in supporting migrants and migration, in an informal session about migration, stressing the support of the civil society. I have seen the opposite on the TV just a few weeks ago. The European Union was very concerned about the civil voting against migration and wanted to think about serious consequences for Switzerland. Didier Burkhalter did not mention a single word about it.It is hard to believe everything because every country wants to present itself in the best possible spotlight in order to keep up with the other member countries. Some representatives seem to be very passionate; others have problems pronouncing the words of their written speeches.It is an extremely diverse but peaceful atmosphere. You have members from almost every country. It was the first time, that I met a person from Vatikan, it was the first time that I have seen real pictures of children who were forced to marry at age 10,11 or were promised to another man with the age of 5, it is the first time for me that I saw a Tunisian woman talking with a passionate heart about their new constitution and equal rights for women in Tunisia. Tunisia passed the most progressive constitution, where women have the same rights as men, marking a milestone for Arabic countries. They were very happy to present their progress mirrored in their new constitution. Several Arab countries expressed their deference and shared their view-point that Tunisia is an“inspiring model and reflects the right meaning of Arab spring” (Diplomat from Qatar). Moroco, Egypt, South Africa, New Zeeland and Unicef congratulated them unisono.An event on forced marriages was a eye-opener on the first evening. Children are forced to marry at ages, which are inhuman; another form of slavery and corruption covered under the name “marriage”. The older men did not want their future bride to finish school because they think that the risk is too high that they wont be virgins anymore. Innocent small children, girls, adolescents have to give up their dreams without even coming close to them or others are not even conscious about what was decided upon their heads.Too many human rights violations take place in every part of the world, which is an incredible/unbeschreiblich crime. I wonder how this human rights conference will really make a change. I hope that deeds follow after words.

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