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Inspiring Stories for Human Rights Day 2020

Bright Spots for Year Include the Power of Protesters, Essential Workers

Students hold up a three finger salute during a protest. © 2020 Peerapon Boonyakiat/AP

On #HumanRightsDay 2020, we’ve decided to focus on the inspiring moments of an extremely difficult year. There were many bright spots, from the caretakers and essential workers globally persevering during this pandemic, to the protesters who were inspired to march by the murder of George Floyd. From the people in Lebanon who came together to help each other after a horrible, preventable explosion, to the brave peaceful protesters in Belarus demanding free and fair elections. But not every heartening story made the headlines, and many heroes are unsung. Today, among our inspiring stories, we hope you may find some you never even heard of.

Vicky, a teacher and guidance counselor in a small girls’ boarding school in Kenya, is dedicated to empowering girls.  © 2020 Private

People around the globe work every day to make the world a better, fairer, and more just place. Human Rights Watch’s Audrey Wabwire pays tribute to her sister, Vicky, a teacher and guidance counsellor in a small girls’ school in Kenya who is committed to helping girls reach their potential.

Vicky's and Audrey's stories >>


A child places his hands on a fence as Greek police officers stand guard at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees in Greece. © 2016 Reuters/Marko Djurica

On Human Rights Day 2020, let’s celebrate a tremendous victory for children’s rights as Greece is ending the practice of detaining unaccompanied migrant children in jail cells.

Greece Commits to End Child Detention >>


Gambia's Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou speaks on the first day of hearings in a case against Myanmar alleging genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya population at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, December 10, 2019, as Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on.  © UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ.

Gambia’s Minister of Justice displayed moral courage and leadership in seeking justice both within his own country and for the Rohingya - a truly inspirational story.

Giving Gambia a Big Voice on Human Rights >>


At the United Nations in Geneva the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots called on governments to not allow the development of weapons systems that would select and attack targets without any human intervention. © 2018 Clare Conboy

Here is to the university students and young people in Belgium who reviewed Peace Prize nominees and voted this year to Stop Killer Robots!

Children Vote to Stop Killer Robots >>


Demonstrators hold up pictures of detainees and a sign demanding "Justice for the prisoners and justice for the innocent" during a 2017 demonstration in Aden, Yemen.  © 2017 courtesy of Huda al-Sarari

The Yemeni activist Huda al-Sarari won a well-deserved top human rights award for her committed and courageous work in her home country.

Yemeni Activist Wins Prestigious Human Rights Award >>


Persons with albinism from six regions around the the world voted unanimously to form a global alliance on albinism. © 2020 Global Albinism Alliance

There’s strength in numbers, and people with albinism from six continents formed a global alliance to better advocate for the rights and futures of everyone with albinism.

People with Albinism Form First Ever Global Alliance >>


Rohingya refugee children attend a UNICEF run school in Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, August 27, 2018.  © 2018 AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File

In a landmark move, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Myanmar to protect the embattled Rohingya Muslims.

Court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya >>


A mother, right, breastfeeds her two-day-old baby at the Ataturk Children's Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 13, 2020.  © 2020 AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Happy Human Rights Day to mothers in Afghanistan who, for the first time, will see their names on the birth certificates of their children.

Afghan Women Win Fight for Their Own Identity >>


Revelers participate in the Philadelphia LGBT Pride Parade through the city's "Gayborhood" and downtown historic district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 10, 2018.  © 2018 AP

This year Pope Francis called for the recognition of civil union laws that would legally protect same-sex couples for the first time - love is love, on Human Rights Day and every other day 

Pope Francis Supports Same-Sex Civil Unions >>


Children tie tobacco leaves onto sticks to prepare them for curing in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.   © 2015 Marcus Bleasdale for Human Rights Watch

This Human Rights Day we can also celebrate a global commitment to eradicating the worst forms of child labor.

Historic commitment to end child labor >>


Former Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi (Left) and others cut a ribbon at the opening of the Neighborhood Opportunity Network. © New York City Department of Probation

As probation commissioner for New York City, Vincent Schiraldi’s helped thousands by taking on probation in the city’s criminal justice system.

Transforming probation in New York City >>

*A story that appeared in the original list was edited out after publications

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