CLOSE TO ONE HUNDRED STUDENTS FROM 19 UNIVERSITIES IN THE REGION PARTICIPATED IN THE SECOND EDITION OF THE INITIATIVE ORGANIZED BY THE CIPDH-UNESCO AND THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (IACHR-OAS). “HUMAN RIGHTS’ DEFENDERS RIGHTS” WAS THE SUBJECT OF THIS YEAR.
The thematic hearings contest is a simulation exercise aimed at undergraduate university students from the American continent, which aims to focalize in the reality of the American region regarding human rights and international protection systems. The 2021 Edition was developed in virtual mode.
On Monday, August 2, the activity was inaugurated with the words of the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Argentine Nation, Dr. Santiago Cafiero; the Executive Secretary of the IACHR-OAS, Tania Reneaum Panszi; and the Director of the International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CIPDH-UNESCO), Fernanda Gil Lozano.
“That young people are holding these flags of Memory, Truth and Justice is part of the discussion of the present, but above all things, the discussion of the future” said the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Argentine Nation, Santiago Cafiero, through a video. For her part, Tania Reneaum Panszi, Executive Secretary of the IACHR-OAS, stated that there is “a challenge in the hemisphere and that is to strengthen the democratic institutions of the States, as well as the strengthening of their capacities to implement public policies with a focus on rights that can generate concrete impacts on the enjoyment and exercise of these rights for all individuals, groups and collectives, with guarantees of human dignity, equality and justice ”, expressing his support for this joint initiative which consists of a simulation exercise of the operation of the sessions of the organization and in which undergraduate students from universities in America compete. In addition, Reneaum Panszi thanked the participants for their interest in continuing to promote the inter-American human rights system and expressed his conviction that “each and every one of you will be the next person who can establish new standards in the region.”
Fernanda Gil Lozano, director of the CIPDH-UNESCO, highlighted that “today, our challenge in the region is to achieve peace and justice through the strengthening of the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the right to identity, the reduction of different forms of violence, the deepening of citizen participation and the guarantee of fundamental freedoms. Therefore, the possibility for students to get involved in dialogue to highlight the potential that these values represent will allow us to meet the challenges that will arise in the not too distant future”. The director of the CIPDH-UNESCO warned that “it is imperative that access to justice related to the defense of human rights is defined at the national level and before the bodies in charge of enforcing justice at the international level when, at the domestic level, citizens have exhausted all possible instances and cannot find answers to their demands”. Finally, Gil Lozano invited the participants of the Contest to “get involved in the defense of human rights and, especially, of those most vulnerable people to whom we must train and confer knowledge so that they have access to all the safeguard mechanisms, and help them face the abuse, neglect and isolation to which they are subjected on a daily basis”, before opening the sessions
The 2021 edition of the Contest, for reasons of public knowledge, was developed virtually. About a hundred students participated, representing 19 universities from 10 countries in America. The activity consisted of a simulation competition between the teams, each composed of four undergraduate students from each of the competing houses of studies, some representing the role of civil society and others that of the State. The former had to expose the real human rights problem in the selected country, and the latter respond with arguments, proposing the concrete measures that the State is taking in this field.
For each edition, specialists and referents in the chosen subject serve as the jury in the competition. They represent the role of commissioners and make comments and / or questions to the participants after their presentations. Once each hearing is over, they evaluate the teams. In 2021, the jury was made up of human rights defenders from across the continent, commissioners of the IACHR, international human rights experts, and state officials.
After the inauguration, the first eleven hearings of the preliminary rounds were held for the rest of the day on Monday, with the topic: “Situation of human rights defenders in Colombia.” On Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 the preliminary rounds were completed, with eleven hearings in each one and with the topics “Situation of human rights defenders in Honduras” and “Situation of human rights defenders in Venezuela”, respectively. Half of the teams represented the positions of the State and the remaining teams those of civil society: the latter assuming the presentation of the problems and complaints of the various civil organizations in their countries, while the former expressed public policies and proposed solutions from the States.
After the first three days, the jury defined the names of the six winning teams of the preliminary rounds, which would thus participate in the semifinal round on Thursday 5.
The teams that the jury chose to compete in the semifinal round on Thursday 5 under the theme “Situation of human rights defenders in Honduras” were: University of Buenos Aires, National University of Río Cuarto, Universidad de los Andes, Universidad National of Costa Rica, National Autonomous University of Mexico and Central University of Venezuela. The modality was similar to those of the preliminary rounds. At the end of the sessions, the jury defined the two finalist teams.
During noon on Friday 6th, in virtual mode but in a session that was broadcast live on CIPDH-UNESCO’s official YouTube channel, the closing of the second edition of the Thematic Hearings Contest before the IACHR-OAS took place.
The teams belonging to the National University of Costa Rica and the National Autonomous University of Mexico participated in the final round, with the same operation as in the previous sessions and with the theme “Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia”.
CLOSING ACT AND AWARDING OF AWARDS AND MENTIONS
After the final round, on the afternoon of Friday 6 the jury made up for this occasion by Mónica Pinto, Joel Hernández and Fernanda Gil Lozano chose the team representing the National Autonomous University of Mexico as the winner. The team from the National University of Costa Rica was also awarded for their second place, while María Alejandra Díaz (University of Los Andes) and Marión Briancesco Arias (National University of Costa Rica) received the distinctions for best speakers. The Jury highlighted the parity between the finalist teams, as well as the level of all the teams that competed remotely in this 2021 edition of the Thematic Hearings Contest before the IACHR-OAS.
In closing, Fernanda Gil Lozano, Director of the CIPDH-UNESCO, and Mario López Garelli, Advisor to the IACHR-OAS, offered words of satisfaction and gratitude to all the participating teams for the work carried out during the five days.
PARTICIPATING UNIVERSITIES IN THE 2021 EDITION
- Argentina: Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad Católica de Córdoba, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
- Brasil: Universidad de Sao Paulo, Universidad Federal Da Grande Dourados, Universidad Federal Do Pará.
- Costa Rica: Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.
- Chile: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
- Colombia: Universidad de Los Andes.
- Ecuador: Universidad de Guayaquil.
- Guatemala: Universidad Rafael Landívar.
- México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrrey, Universidad Autónoma De Nuevo León.
- Perú: Pontificia Universidad Católica y Universidad Nacional de San Agustín.
- Venezuela: Universidad Central de Venezuela.