The Second World Human Rights Forum (WRHF) was held in Marrakesh on 27-30 November, with participants highlighting that peoples’ participation in decision-making and governance is essential in achieving human rights worldwide. The Forum, building on the first World Human Rights Forum held in Brasilia in December 2013, brought together representatives of governments, international human rights organizations, national human rights institutions, national and international NGOs and UN experts.
The Marrakesh Forum consisted of an inaugural conference, during which prominent international figures expressed their views on major human rights issues in the world; more than 30 thematic events; numerous special events and around fifty diverse events; and a closing conference that drew the main conclusions and recommendations of the Forum. It also included a social and solidarity economy fair, along with training sessions and cultural events.
The thematic debates addressed issues related to human rights and access to justice; disabilities; religious traditions; the right to water; discrimination; and sustainable development, amongst numerous others.
During the Forum, the National Observatory of Child Rights in Morocco (ONDE) and the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) organized a high level panel discussion on strengthening participation of people, particularly children and youth, in defining the UN sustainable development agenda. UN-NGLS participated in this panel.
The following is a joint summary of the panel written by the UN Millennium Campaign and UN-NGLS.
It was a memorable occasion as more than 7,000 human right activists from all over the world gathered in Marrakech. The ONDE and UNMC panel discussion during the Forum featured a statement by Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UNDESA. “This event has come as a very timely occasion as we are in the midst of a process to define a new sustainable development framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals. It is both a great opportunity and a huge responsibility for the United Nations and the rest of the international community.”
Ravi Karkara, co-chair of the Policy Strategy Group for the World We Want 2015 (WWW2015), commended the government of Morocco for bringing together human rights activists and sustainable development practitioners to discuss the post-2015 development agenda. He called for establishing partnerships with children and young people, and for accountability panels in the implementation and monitoring of this agenda.
The Forum also celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC). The legendary Olympic gold medal runner Saïd Aouita participated in a five kilometer road race to draw attention to the need to fulfil the human rights of the most marginalized boys and girls.
Juan Chebly, Coordinator of the World We Want 2015, highlighted the importance of social inclusion and participation in building a sustainable development agenda with human rights at its core. Jasmine Jaruphand, Programme Coordinator of UNMC called upon children and young people to strengthen their participation in the MY World 2015 Survey and invited them to participate on the online discussions on the WWW2015.
Susan Alzner, Officer in Charge of the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) New York, called for strengthening of civil society organizations worldwide and drew attention to their pivotal role in ensuring a well-defined, people-centered sustainable development agenda and holding governments and the private sector accountable.
On the occasion of the 25 year anniversary of the UN-CRC, Dr. Mustapha Denial emphasized that the rights of the most marginalised boys and girls, including children with disabilities, indigenous and minority children, must be respected, protected and fulfilled. Najib Somoue of ONDE expressed the National Observatory’s commitment to realizing the human rights and an inclusive sustainable development agenda in Morocco.
Echoing the sentiments from this panel discussion, Ms. Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared at the closing ceremony of the Forum, “We want to see people at the center of all decision-making for policy that affects them. Listening to civil society is more urgent and indispensable than ever.”
More information is available on the Forum's website.