Looking back at International Human Rights Day

On December 10th at the Bibliotheek Utrecht, we marked the International Human Rights Day by hosting an event dedicated to the defenders of our planet. Commemorating 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the evening provided a platform for human rights defenders from South America and Southeast Asia to share their insights, challenges, and triumphs in their fight for environmental rights.

The event was part of the larger initiative by the SIM of the University of Utrecht, “75 years of Human Rights: What Do They Mean to Us Now?” (75 jaar mensenrechten: wat brengen ze ons nu?). This collaboration created a platform, bringing together thinkers, educators, students, and societal partners to explore the contemporary significance of human rights.

From 18:30 to 19:30, the ‘Theaterzaal’ became a space for our conversation on defending environmental rights. The moderator of the evening, Nick Anagnostellis, shared about the work of our organisation Peace Brigades International and about the Shelter City Utrecht project that we implement in the city.

Before the human rights defenders joined the stage, we screened a short documentary that was made by True Heroes Films. In this documentary, our Shelter City guest, Mona, shared about her environmental work she does in Bolivia and how her stay in Utrecht helps her to catch her breath and reenergise.

After the screening, Mona and two human rights defenders from Indonesia shared their stories in a live interview on stage, shedding light on the diverse landscapes they protect, the challenges they face, and the passion that propels their advocacy.

Next to Nick, PBI volunteer Marieke Martens joined the stage and interviewed the guests. The days before the event, Marieke assisted the Indonesian human rights defenders during their temporary visit in the Netherlands where they tried to raise attention on the environmental en human rights issues in West Papua.

Attendees gained a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of global environmental challenges and the role each of us plays in addressing them. It was great to see how everybody actively participated, posing questions and sharing their thoughts. A special thanks to everyone who attended, participated, and supported this event!

*Due to safety measures we cannot give the real names and pictures of the human rights defenders that joined the event.

This event was made possible by: Vfonds, Lush foundation, Haëlla foundation and Human Rights Utrecht.

Pictures made by: Rachèl Luttikhuisen