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Celebrating 20 Years of Educating Youth on Their 30 Human Rights

How an educator has transformed the lives of millions of youth through education on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 2001, educator and Youth for Human Rights president Dr. Mary Shuttleworth launched a movement to teach youth the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. Her work is featured in an episode of Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network.

“Almost half the world’s population is under 25,” says Shuttleworth. “They are hardest hit by the world’s inequalities and injustices. According to UNICEF, 1.2 million children are trafficked across international borders.”

An educator, Shuttleworth saw that children and young adults could not understand the formal wording of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The challenge was to help them grasp the concepts of the document’s 30 articles. Youth for Human Rights International accomplished this with public service announcements and other materials that express these rights in terms that communicate to youth.

Shuttleworth traveled more than 650,000 miles (some 1 million kilometers)—the equivalent of 26 times around the globe—and introduced the campaign to more than 1,200 government officials and leaders on annual Youth for Human Rights World Educational Tours from 2004 through 2019, before the pandemic. Visiting schools, shelters, and orphanages in each country helped her gain an understanding of the issues that affect children around the world. She attended and organized conferences and established partnerships and affiliated groups and chapters in each location she visited.

In 2019, Shuttleworth was awarded the Medal for Social Activism at the World Summit of Peace Laureates for Youth for Human Rights International’s “work to educate the youth of the world on the importance of human rights, through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The Peace Laureates acknowledged that “Youth for Human Rights has conducted programs under the guidance of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates José Ramos-Horta in Timor-Leste, Oscar Arias Sanchez in Costa Rica and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, and many other locations around the world.”

Shuttleworth and Youth for Human Rights International have created global impact by making the concept and breadth of human rights understandable to an entire generation of young leaders who are now coming of age.

For more information on Youth for Human Rights, its history and the work of Mary Shuttleworth, watch “Shining a Light on Human Rights,” an episode of Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network, or visit the website of Youth for Human Rights International.


The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.

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