The Second Edition of the World Human Rights Forum (WHRF) was held held under the patronage of King Mohammed VI in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 27 to 30, 2014. The Forum took a critical look at multiple international human rights issues with four days of intense debate on how to promote human rights in the world.
The Forum was attended by over 7000 participants from about 95 countries comprising of civil society activists, human rights activists, leading academics, politicians, Nobel Peace Prize winners, businessmen, Heads of State and government representatives, heads of United Nations agencies and representatives of international organizations for human rights, national and international NGOs and representatives of the media. In December 2013, Brazil hosted the first World Human Rights Forum, with over 5,000 participants from 30 countries.
The Marrakech WHRF hosted about forty thematic forums, more than fifteen special events and around fifty diverse events: conferences, dialogues for human rights, internal activities, workshops, self-organized workshops and a cultural program.
Participants addressed human rights issues including the strong leverage for democracy and citizenship; citizen security and the protection of human rights; discrimination and human rights; the interaction of States with UN Mechanisms for The Promotion and Protection of Human Rights; Legislative Drafting and the Promotion of Human Rights; Youth Rights and International Human Rights Law: Current statute and development avenues, among others.
The event involved extensive debate, idea sharing and exchange as well as learning on various human rights issues in order to raise awareness and promote more rights in the different countries represented. By organizing this second edition, Morocco aimed to contribute to the emergence of a universal platform for dialogue among governments, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations working to meet people’s aspirations for respect, dignity, equality and justice.
International Federation of Journalists’ President, Jim Boumelha was a keynote speaker during the opening ceremony in Marrakech, on November 29, 2014. Representing the Federation’s 600,000 journalists based in 130 countries around the world, he addressed the World Human Rights Forum in Marrakech highlighting the important role of journalism in relation to human rights.
In his opening speech, Jim Boumelha highlighted the interconnections between journalists and human rights defenders stating that those who oppose human rights too often also target journalists. He stated that “The United Nations and UNESCO have a special mandate to defend freedom of expression and they have been engaged in producing a plethora of tools and instruments to protect journalists and to end impunity. Unfortunately they do not do enough to ensure that the international laws, declarations, motions, and other action plans are implemented by the governments that support and sign them.”
He also stated that “We are forced to confront serious threats to freedom of the press around the world every day” and “This situation concerns not only the global family of journalists, media organisations and trade unions but it also concerns the whole of our society. When a journalist is attacked or killed it is an attack on the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression and it is also an attack on democracy and an attack on all of our rights.
“The rights of journalists are essential to democracy, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. I appeal to our societies and citizens, our governments and all the organisations and influential people – especially to human rights activists – I encourage you to take action to help us create a free and safe environment for journalists.”
During the 3-day Forum, the host, Morocco expressed the need to involve developing countries in determining Human Rights values pointing out that history would show that most Human Rights values were written down in the absence of Africa; a continent that should be given the opportunity to enrich its own history with the Human Rights culture. “Countries in the developing world – particularly in Africa – want to play a part in determining human rights standards. They no longer want to remain a subject for debate and assessment, or to be a field of experimentation,” His Majesty, the King said in his message read out by Justice and Liberties Minister, Mustapha Ramid,
Morocco highlighted set goals following the Forum which included a national institution against torture, a law on working hours of stay-at-home moms for pension purposes, a law to protect women from violence with a shocking number of 6 million Moroccan women between the ages of 18 and 64 who have suffered from violence and Morocco ratifying the 3rd optional protocol to the convention on Children’s Rights.
Participants took part in about 160 associations, sports, cultural and training activities organized all over the city. There were local, national and international cultural programs including the World Coalition against the Death Penalty at Village du Monde, From 1948 to the Present Day Photo Exhibition at the Embassy of Palestine in Morocco and Le trio Joubran concert at le Colisé, among others.
The World Human Rights Forum (WHRF) is an independent international organization working for the promotion of human rights and duties throughout the world. The outcome of visionary initiatives, it is committed to protecting the ideals enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international documents. It seeks to unite human rights activists and NGOs around the globe to promote human rights, values and global wellbeing.
The closing ceremony was marked by the statement of several important figures notably the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education and the president of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.
During the closing ceremony of the Forum, President of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Michel Tubiana, announced that Argentina will host the next World Forum on Human Rights.
More information on the Forum can be found at http://www.maroc.ma/en/content/second-edition-world-human-rights-forum-marrakech-2014 and www.whrforum.org.