Building on Human Rights Lessons from the European Human Rights Protection Summer Course

I am passionate about children’s rights and deeply interested in human rights. I have recently been involved in a number of human rights-related activities and initiatives. From my work with internally displaced children to working as a global ambassador for a California-based NGO, I have learned a lot from these engagements, and look forward to sharing these experiences soon. But, prior to these, I had an exciting experience this past summer. On the 19th of May 2016, I was accepted into a two-week course on European Human Rights Protection at the European University, Viadrina funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and the European University, Viadrina. Armed with basic necessities for the trip and my PEIFF mentor’s advice, I departed Nigeria on the 9th of July. After two long connecting flights, I arrived Germany the following day. The Course began on the 11th of July with a welcome speech by Discrimination Law Professor Gerard Rowe. Immediately after the speech, lectures on the course began.

The course was centered on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), with an in-depth study of the Articles and Protocols, as well as the European Court of Human Rights procedures. Law Professors from universities across the world discussed the ECHR, its application, functionality and impact on persons residing within Europe. After studying the Convention Articles, Protocols and the European Court processes, I had the opportunity to put the knowledge gained into practice. I served as a Judge in a Moot Court trial in a simulation of the European Court of Human Rights.

Hillary Obinna Maduka Preparing for the Moot Court Trial

Although the training and study sessions were tasking, I returned home to Nigeria motivated by the knowledge I had gained to work hard towards accomplishing my dream of becoming a human rights advocate for those, especially women and children, who are denied their rights. In Germany, I had the opportunity of networking with distinguished human rights activists, law professors, policy makers and law students who continue to motivate me. I found their passions and visions deeply inspiring, especially the life-long commitment to work in the interest of others. I understood it; I understand how a deeply-rooted interest in human rights, in seeing and knowing justice has been done for the most vulnerable of us, can become a life-long commitment. This understanding prompted me to begin volunteering shortly after my studies in Germany at the House of Recab – an Internally Displaced Persons Camp for Children – where I teach Library Science and also double as the School Librarian.

Hillary Educating Staff on Children's Rights at Internally Displaced Persons Camp

On the 18th of November 2016, I had the opportunity to present a paper to the staff on the rights of children and the duties the staff owe the displaced children by virtue of their position. Our work at PEIFF is not simply about supporting and giving back to our communities; it is very much about empowering others, including young innovators and organizational leaders, to act in the best interest of vulnerable children in their diverse roles as teachers, guardians or mentors. In educating the staff about children’s rights, I hoped – and continue to work towards ensuring – that they uphold and respect the rights of these children, of these most vulnerable children among us.

Mr. Hilary Obinna Maduka is a 2016 PEIFF Mentee, Law Graduate, and formerly Senior Editor of the Research and Communications Department of the International Youth Action Against Terrorism. He currently works as a Research Assistant for Common Ground Centre, a Non Governmental Organization located in Nairobi, Kenya.

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