Human rights – a fashionable term or the real issue?

A few weeks ago, policy officers spammed our mailing lists demanding the members to fill in the surveys for their thematic researches. Now is the time to reflect on their results. The survey on human rights recognition, launched within the topic of social inclusion, revealed surprising results. In AEGEE, we state in our principles that we stand for human rights. Do we know what are we referring to?

Who protects my rights?
The most curious results were brought by the simplest questions of the survey. Only half of our members have never read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is the basic legal document of human rights protection. More alarming is the fact that only one third of the responders are aware about the mechanisms (institutions, laws) which protect their rights in Europe.

Perception of human rights
Depending on the country we live in, the viewpoint on the rights changes. The survey was filled by members from the different parts of our network. The Dutch expressed their satisfaction with their situation: in their country human rights are respected almost in all spheres of society. The Spanish mentioned angrily that the right to work disadvantaged mostly young people at labour market. Russian or Hungarian members urged to reinforce freedom of expression in their home countries. In AEGEE we feel as a part of European society and it is time to face these issues all together.

The important thing is to begin
Every coin has two sides, and for me the biggest motivation to continue drafting a position paper on this topic was brought by the fact that every responder answered that AEGEE should support initiatives to foster human rights in Europe. The results expressed the dissatisfaction and motivation to change! Changes are needed in Europe if we want to live in a society where implementation of rights permits us all to have equal opportunities. The responders supported and suggested various initiatives to be taken within AEGEE to contribute to this aim. Especially two groups of rights were put in front to be tackled by our organisation: freedom of expression and social rights which affect directly young people.

Speak out!
The survey showed that AEGEE should urge the policy makers on European level to enable young people to express their political, religious, personal opinions in any European country. This should be implemented on the level of national states as well, and enable young people to actively participate in protection of their rights in democratic states.

Lucia at EBM Valletta

Social rights 

We all know the situation is not easy. We hear a lot about crisis, about problems to create working positions and to find the solution to this mess. What we can do, however, is lobby for change. The responders expressed that young people should enter a labour market where non-discrimination is granted. They should be given the opportunity to gain experiences and skills when starting their career. Regarding the education, the responders consider that the non-formal education should have the same value as formal education. Also, the system of higher education should be more coherent, giving students opportunities for mobility and recognition of diplomas abroad.

What’s next?
This survey was just the start of drafting the position of AEGEE on this topic. Your ideas can contribute significantly to its final version. You can join the online consultations as well, which will be taking place one hour before the Skype meetings of Human rights working group. During the consultation, we will deeply discuss the results of the survey and transform them into a draft position paper, which will be later on developed into a final version.

How can you contribute? Write me an e-mail and join the online consultation. Let your voice be heard and express YOUR opinion on human rights recognition in Europe. Let’s create together AEGEE’s position on this topic.

Written by Lucia Sobekova, rapporteur on Social Inclusion, AEGEE Europe (, skype: lussinka134 )

Photos are in courtesy of Gunnar Erth