Students from different European countries have discussed human rights at the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office

23 March 2017 

17349717 1762631020664153 2489790814558367297 oStudents from various countries focused on human rights principles and international commitments at the discussion, which was organised by the Seimas Ombudsman's Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania.

By welcoming students from eight European Countries, the head of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office, Mr. Augustinas Normantas, noted that human rights are not only the rule of law but also encompass the culture of societies, the politics of states, and the attitudes of people.

Students from Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Lithuania, France, Portugal, and Romania shared their thoughts on the human rights principles enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, and they discussed respect for diversity, equality, and equal rights.

Professor of International Law at Mykolas Romeris University, Mr. Justas Žilinskas, started the event by asking students why it was important to respect human rights. He was interested in how human rights were defended and promoted in their countries. He talked about the development of human rights and human rights protection mechanisms in the world.

While introducing the aims of the grass roots movement "white gloves," the representative of the movement, Mr. Gembickis, reminded students about the importance of civic participation in standing up for human rights. A representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Matas Stankevičius, introduced the key documents and international treaties relevant to human rights and called on students to think of the essential human rights principles enshrined in international treaties.

Recalling the movement for equality which originated in the USA, the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Ms. Natalija Bitiukova, noted that even democratic countries face challenges in preserving human rights. Therefore, in her opinion, civil rights movements may put pressure on governments to push for high standards in the area of human rights.

Vilnius Salinikai Gymnasium initiated the discussion within the framework of the Erasmus+ project, “Participative culture - the way to an active European citizen.” The conference was organised by the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania.

The debate aimed to promote mutual understanding about human rights among students from different European countries. Moreover, it was meant to develop students' critical thinking regarding possible challenges to human rights by putting emphasis on the importance of their involvement in safeguarding human rights as a foundation of democratic societies.