Global Campus of Human Rights Magazine n 3 (May 2021)
Borrell Fontelles, Josep
Rosa Salva, Piero
Broeck : Van den, Naomi
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From 10 to 12 May 2021, the Global Campus of Human Rights organized its annual International Conference at Yerevan State University, the hub of our Caucasus Master Programme. Although it was primarily held online due to COVID-19 related restrictions, I was able to participate together with a few of my colleagues from the Venice Headquarters. The topic of the Conference was “Climate Change and Children: Impact, Rights and Participation”. I was highly impressed by the enthusiasm of many participating school children and young people, including organizers of the Fridays for Future strikes, who conveyed the message that children have not only a right to actively participate in all matters that directly affect them, but that they are already taking the lead in pushing political and economic leaders to take the current global climate crisis seriously by radically changing the global economic and political system with the aim of saving our planet from collapsing. Together we discussed the need for a legally enforceable human right of future generations to a clean and healthy environment, strategic climate-related litigation initiated by children, the idea of a trusteeship for future generations and even rights of animals, nature and Mother Earth. As a city built in the Lagoon, Venice is particularly threatened by the rise in sea level caused by climate change. The Global Campus of Human Rights is fully dedicated to supporting the various movements of children and young people aimed at changing European and global climate policies and mitigating the effects of climate change. At next year’s Festa della Sensa, which is dedicated to the traditional relationship between Venice and the Sea, we may organize a symposium on the effects of climate change on the future of Venice in our Monastery of San Nicolò, with the active participation of children and young people. We are grateful to President Piero Rosa Salva for his interview and his interest in cooperating with the Global Campus on this and other ideas, how our human rights-related activities could be linked to some of the traditional cultural events taking place in this beautiful city with its magnificent 1600-year history. For example, together with the European Parliament, we are planning to organize a high-level annual Venice Conference on the State of Human Rights around the time of the Redentore Festival. We sincerely hope that EU Vice-President and High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, who expressed his full support for the Global Campus in his excellent interview, will participate in our Venice Conference. We are equally grateful to Ambassador Umberto Vattani for his very kind interview and his offer to strengthen the cooperation between Venice International University and the Global Campus in relation to our partnership with countries and universities in the North African and Middle Eastern region. Since the Arab Master of Democracy and Human Rights is the youngest of our seven regional Master programmes, we may jointly organize a conference on issues of democracy and human rights in the Mediterranean region. These and similar events aimed at putting students and young people at the centre of developing Venice into a Human Rights City, also through drawing on the necessary lessons learnt from the COVID-19 Pandemic, could also be supported by the Government of Italy and the City of Venice, as the interviews with the Italian Minister for Public Administration, Renato Brunetta, and the Deputy Mayor of Venice Andrea Tomaello underlined. Finally, I wish to thank our EMA student representatives Naomi van den Broeck and Charles-Antoine Leboeuf for their suggestion of using the COVID-19 Pandemic as a window of opportunity aimed at transforming Venice from a city of mass tourism to a more sustainable city welcoming higher numbers of international students rather than hit-and-run tourism. The Global Campus stands ready to assist the City of Venice in implementing such human rights-based reform policies.