Beirut - Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor officially launched its first Youth for Rights Fellowship session at its regional office in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday. This was the first session of an extensive training programme, in which a cohort of human rights experts gives fellows the skills needed to tackle important issues affecting them and their communities.

The fellowship programme unites 20 bright young people between the ages of 21 to 29 from around the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, bringing them into one room where they can engage in critical debates and learn in a welcoming environment. Euro-Med Monitor aims to turn these youths from bystanders and victims of human rights violations into the next generation of human rights defenders. Fellows joining the programme hail from various countries in the MENA region, including Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and the Palestinian territory.

Fellows receive training from experts in international law, international humanitarian law, and human rights advocacy mechanisms, as well as gain skills such as documentation, research, lobbying, and advocacy.

“This fellowship will equip participants with the proper knowledge and skills to advance human rights throughout MENA societies,” said Mohammad Moghabat, Euro-Med Monitor’s regional office director in Lebanon.

   This fellowship will equip participants with the proper knowledge and skills to advance human rights throughout MENA societies   

Mohammad Moghabat, Euro-Med Monitor’s regional office director in Lebanon.

The programme’s first session focused on international criminal law and was led by Reina Sfeir, international criminal law professor and Director of the Human Rights Legal Clinic at Beirut’s La Sagesse University. Fellows in attendance were provided with an overview of human rights law, international legal frameworks for prosecuting and punishing international crimes such as genocide, the limitations of international criminal law enforcement, and new forms of international crimes. By the end of the session, fellows were able to take home key information concerning the International Criminal Court, how court decisions are affected, what constitutes a war crime, and much more.

“The first session was a great success,” noted Fellowship Programme Coordinator Kamela Dahhan, mentioning “interactive discussions and enthusiastic fellows who showed a genuine interest in the programme”.

“This programme provides necessary skills and knowledge [for participants] to become advocates of their rights,” Dahhan added, by empowering them to become leaders in their own communities, driving positive change, and creating a better future for all. The second part of the programme begins in March, and will allow fellows to take the skills they have learned in their sessions with experts and apply them to practical work with partner human rights organisations. There, they will put their newfound skills to use, and will each produce a publishable report on human rights with the help of the partner organisation.

At the end of the four-month training programme, fellows will have many of the requisite tools to feel secure in entering the world of human rights advocacy, where they will be able to tackle rights issues across the globe. This initiative is part of Euro-Med Monitor’s overall strategy to provide youth with a platform and turn victims of human rights violations across the MENA region, who are often passive recipients of outside aid, into active defenders of their own rights. Euro-Med Monitor aims to create a warm environment for young people to learn and flourish by connecting them with dedicated specialists who can help them to develop their passions and improve society together.