On December 2nd 2015, on the initiative of the European Youth for Human Rights (EYfHR), the Press Club Brussels hosted a round-table discussion on the launch of the World Solidarity Forum (WSF). Representatives of various organisations and independent activists,met with the founders of the platform to talk about its mission and goals.
‘The WSF is envisaged as an umbrella platform set up to support, provide a space for and campaign on behalf of grass-roots organisations to influence social change. Our goal is to promote the message of human rights-dignity and respect for people of all nations, creating cooperation and peace. The WSF wants to develop a collective voice, to be visible, and raise and challenge important issues that disadvantaged groups face in the front-line. Being aware of the fact that the best way to achieve objectives is to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations, we want to achieve impact through collaboration. This is why we have gathered today!’ (Cristina Luca – EYfHR)
The round-table discussion welcomed participants from different backgrounds and areas of interest in relation to human rights. Even so, the discussion verged on different topics where consensus was always reached. The discussion focused on three main area:
- What are the biggest challenges the world faces today?
- What are the biggest challenges your organisation faces?
- How can we work together?
The answers, though varied, allowed participants to identify common issues. With regard to the biggest challenges the world faces today, they narrowed it down to the following: education, poverty (inequality of wealth), migration, climate change and terrorism –what we call the “realistic ones”. More than these, several ethical challenges were raised, such as the lack of empathy and compassion (translating empathy into action) or the lack of tolerance. It was also argued that even if people would like to make a change or act upon something, they usually don’t know where to start from – there is a lack of information on how to get involved. Moreover, even though organisations offer opportunities for involvement, they generally receive help in the form of material donations rather than actual actions.
Concerning the biggest challenges the organisations are facing, the top three collective answers were: funding, visibility and contacts. We are all aware that, without these three aspects, the rate of our rapidly growing success might decline, especially in the case of small organisations. A slow rate of success can also affect the commitment of individuals or groups, which will influence their involvement with the cause.
Then, how can we work together to overcome both the internal and external challenges regarding human rights activism? The participants proposed some practical suggestions and soon we will be able to put them into practice. The main goal is to create a network – a platform where all interested organisations and individuals can connect, exchange ideas, share good case practices and look for partners that wish to get involved with different actions. Then, together we can build pressure on policymakers from different countries. In addition, a great way to make everything happen transparently and unbiasedly would be to create our own media outlet – where all information will be available to interested individuals and organisations. Moreover it would allow the general public to be informed about real-life situations and on the ground news without any external influences.
Finally, WSF participants concluded that we should work towards creating a global movement of individuals, groups, national and community leaders who will spread the message of what solidarity and human rights are and how to implement and protect them. By setting up a strong network, the WSF team wants to raise awareness on and involvement in human rights issues. With this in mind, we are looking forward to our next meeting where more we will discuss more practical aspects and where we can form a stronger bond.