Saturday, 20 October: The Right to Participate: how citizens need to be involved in issues of Human Rights & Peace

The involvement of citizens in the life of a community is essential in order to ensure social inclusion and to avoid marginalisation and discrimination in our society. For this reason, the Right to Participate goes hand in hand with other Human Rights, like the freedom of expression, the access to education and the right to peaceful assembly and association. Nowadays, to encourage people to actively participate to the development of their community is becoming more and more important, if we want to avoid to suffer from unsustainable decisions imposed with a top-down approach. Crucial policies with an impact on the environment, local development and distribution of resources should involve as much as possible the community and should be based on the principles of equality, dialogue and sustainability.

The right to participate in the life of a community can meet obstacles, such as discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, sex, language, religion, political opinions, disability or other status. Other barriers might be imposed by totalitarian governments, intolerant groups or anti-democratic procedures. In contexts where the right to participation and the freedom of expression are limited, it is essential to counteract with peaceful instruments, rejecting the temptation to use violence as a mean to “defend” rights.

This is what the IVS movement has been putting into practice since its creation in 1920. The first international workcamp in Esnes, near the French battlefields of Verdun, is a meaningful example of how the right to participate can be exercised through effective and peaceful instruments. This initiative proved that grass-roots activism and voluntarism, combined with concrete actions, can be a key to promote peace and to strengthen threads with the local community. This last point is essential: war, unresolved conflicts, top-down impositions often destroy such links and make communities weaker and vulnerable. On the contrary, the deeds, values and commitments of international volunteers, like those participating in workcamps, can provide a valuable contribution to reinforcing the will to participate to the community life. In an interconnected world, this might be also the way to solve global challenges.

GHRW opening post on 20 October was published by the leading network NVDA:

Raising Peace camps and contributions from volunteers on the topic of Right to Participation:

On day 6 of the GHRW we gave visibility to initiatives related to the topic of participation: in UK, we highlighted the People’s Vote March for the Future, attended by more than 500.000 demonstrators who peacefully express their position on Brexit; we supported the activists protecting the Hambacher Forst in Germany and standing for Climate Justice, showing to the world that active participation can bring to constructive results; and we published a link to an interesting article about the political participation of women in India.

On the last day of the GHRW, two members of the IVS movement, Elix and VAP UK, organised GHRW actions aimed at providing visibility to Human Rights and to involve young participants in related activities, using non-formal education method. Here are pictures of their contributions:

Global Human Rights Week event at Othona organised by VAP UK
“We say #Yes4Diversity”, a GHRW action organised by Elix in Corfù, Greece

GHRW Closing post by CCIVS President Ingrid Danckaerts:


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